Tag: historical fiction

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 23rd September 2018

Happy Monday all!

I can hear your thoughts ticking over now… “Monday? But this is a Sunday Summary post?”

Yes, you are right. I’m posting this late as I took part in a Blog Tour for The Barefoot Road by Vivienne Vermes yesterday. Anyone familiar with the requirements will know that you don’t post other material on a given day… to give the tour full exposure. So, I am honouring that and posting my weekly update post late – at 00:01 on Monday, to be exact!

I also took part in another Blog Tour earlier this week. Three Bloody Pieces by Elizabeth Davies is the first book of the Caitlin series, and I had the pleasure of reviewing the book for the tour.

All in all, it has been a good week for me. I hope you have had a fabulous week and are looking forward to another one!

 

Books Read

 

I have another Blog Tour coming up imminently for Ragis by Donna Migliaccio. I’ve been reading the series this year; it’s fast becoming one of my favourites. In last week’s update, I had made some progress in reading this book. This week, I finished the book, and quite quickly too! I always find these books really easy to get into, even after a break, which helps a lot! Stay tuned to my blog for my review – it’s coming up really soon!

After finishing Ragis, I began reading A Stain on the Soul by Elizabeth Davies. This is another Blog Tour coming up. You’ll note I haven’t added a cover for this book yet. That’s because the cover reveal is today… and it’s not for me to spoil it! I’m around halfway through this second book of the Caitlin series. If I’m entirely honest, I am finding this easier to read than the first book. The flow is better and a lot of the context is already laid out, so naturally, there is more action than its predecessor.

 

Books Discovered

I have well and truly wracked my brain… and I’m not lying to you when I say that I have nothing to report. Really, I promise… this time anyway! I solemnly swear that I have not added or purchased any books this week!

I must be ill…

 

Coming Up…

RagisRecall I mentioned an imminent Blog Tour for Ragis? Well, that is coming up this week, and I cannot wait! Tuesday is the big day, so I would love if you could check out that post. If the series is new to you, the reviews on the first three books can be found here:

Kinglet – Gemeta Stone #1

Fiskur – Gemeta Stone #2

StoneKing – Gemeta Stone #3

 

A few weeks ago I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award. I tried to write my own post in response to this almost straight away… but I actually found it to be quite tricky! I’m going to pick up where I left off and try to finish that post for you!

 

 

 

 

 

What are you reading this week?

Blog Tour: The Barefoot Road – Vivienne Vermes

The Barefoot Road reeled me in with its promise of mystery, tension and a difficult history for residents to stomach… and I can assure you I was not disappointed!

 

Goodreads – The Barefoot Road

Purchase Link – Amazon

Vivienne Vermes’ debut novel is a gripping read which will appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction, thrillers and evocative themes. The book begins with a young woman found, emaciated and unconscious, in the mountains surrounding a village in Transylvania. When it is discovered that she is of an ethnic group which was violently driven out of the regions many years before, old wounds are reopened as the villagers are reminded of their role in the bloodshed.

An uneasy peace is maintained until a young married man falls in love with the girl, and tension begin to rise within the community. The mysterious disappearance of a child causes this tension to mount into hysteria, driving the story to its chilling outcome.

 

My Thoughts…

I love books that tackle difficult themes. A number of my favourite books hold that accolade for precisely that reason; To Kill a Mockingbird and The Green Mile are but two examples.

The historical context of The Barefoot Road is clear straight away. In the first chapter, we re-live the persecution and slaughter of a community. When a young woman from that community is brought into the village, mistrust broods. As soon as anything untoward happens the blame falls at her feet; the villagers are quickly roused into seeing her account for her actions.

One constructive point I would like to make is that sometimes the narrative comes across a little stiff when referring to main characters by “first name” “last name”.  As a significant character, addressing Ioan Trifoi in this way (more often than not) distances him from the reader. It makes the narrative feel a little less personal and Ioan harder to identify with. He does grow on you as the tale progresses. Dropping the formal address could speed this up, in my opinion.

I’m glad that The Barefoot Road portrays society in its darkest moments, and how individuals can get swept up into a crowd for not agreeing with the majority. It is a common thing… but this kind of behaviour can have real, nasty consequences. Naturally, this is not a side to humanity we want to acknowledge or recognise. Yet, it happens…and we should recognise it in order to do something about it.

 

Conclusion

The tension that builds as the narrative progresses feels very real. As a reader, you cannot help but delve into the book further to watch events pan out. Themes of religion and witchcraft (and the weight characters lend to their importance) go a long way to setting the book. As a huge fan of historical fiction, I really enjoyed this aspect. The underlying motives, agendas and pre-existing relationships of various villagers within the town adds to the tension and conflict nicely.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vivienne Vermes is a writer and actress of Irish and Hungarian descent who divides her time between Paris and London. She has published four collections of poetry: Sand Woman, Metamorphoses, Passages and When the World Stops Spinning, and has performed her work in festivals throughout Europe. She is winner of the Piccadilly Poets’ award, the Mail on Sunday’s Best Opening of a Novel competition, as well as Flash 500s prize for short prose and the Paragram national competition for best poem and “petite prose”. She has taught creative writing in universities in Transylvania, and runs a writers’ workshop in Paris.

As an actress, she has played roles in a number of French films, including Les Trois Frères, Le Retour and in Les Profs 2 in which she portrayed Queen Elizabeth II.  Her voice also warns passengers on the Paris metro to “Mind the gap”.

The Barefoot Road is her first novel.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/VivienneVermes?lang=en

 

Three Bloody Pieces Book Blitz – Review

I am so pleased to be reviewing Three Bloody Pieces as a part of the Book Blitz today. Not only that, but there is also the chance to win a hardback notebook, a pen and a signed paperback copy of Three Bloody Pieces at the end of my post! Keep reading to find out how to enter.

 

Goodreads – Three Bloody Pieces

Amazon     Apple     Barnes and Noble     Kobo

 

A dead king, a queen who is more than she seems, and a witch who uses the dark arts to entrap her.

Queen, widow, beggar – Lady Caitlyn is all three, and now she can add murderer to the list.

When death and treachery propel her south to Normandy, to seek sanctuary with the exiled Prince Alfred, visions of a woman with ancient eyes travel with her.

Herleva is a woman filled with ambition and greed. A woman who intends to be more than a commoner. A woman who gets what she wants by whatever means possible, even if she has to practice the dark arts to achieve her goals.

A woman who is a witch.

Caitlyn finds herself caught up in a magic which changes her very being. A magic which produces a king to change the lives of every man, woman, and child in England.

 

My Thoughts…

This book is perfect for anyone that loves historical fiction, devious plotting witches and a sassy female protagonist. The flow of the narrative keeps events moving at a reasonable pace. In the first few chapters, danger is always around the corner to spur on Caitlin and her men on to safety. Set in a politically turbulent period of history, the tale is a fantastic blend of magic and fiction, whilst still touching on these historical events without being too heavy.

When we meet Caitlin, her life is in turmoil. Her husband is dead and her lands being raided by Llewellyn ap Seisyll. Those close to her are not as they seem and there are few places to turn to for safety. When she finds herself in Normandy, a mysteriously familiar woman ensnares her. Cast down from her life as a noble queen, magic and the will of a witch dominates her life now.

Written in a compelling first-person narrative, we really come to know and sympathise with Caitlin. Events unfold drastically out of her control, yet she does her best to maintain her composure and a level head even as she flees from danger. That said, she is just as human as the rest of us; she does lose control upon discovering treachery, as anyone would. Her character is very realistic and easy to invest in.

I feel we have a lot more to explore with Caitlin in her newfound life and I cannot wait to continue the series.

 

Author Bio –

Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There’s usually death…

Social Media Links –

Website – www.elizabethdaviesauthor.co.uk

Twitter  – @bethsbooks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethDaviesAuthor/

Instagram – @elizabethdavies.author

 

 

Giveaway!

Now, for your chance to win a hardback notebook, a pen and a signed paperback copy of Three Bloody Pieces (Open Internationally), please see the Terms & Conditions below:-

ENTER HERE – Rafflecopter

*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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 16th September 2018

Welcome to another Sunday Summary, my wild weekenders! Well, I can only hope you are – someone has to make up for me not being one at all! I hope you have had a good one, whatever you have been doing.

This week, I had hoped to share a post after my recent nomination for the Mystery Blogger award. I found, however, that the post proved difficult to write. To date, I’ve written about half of the post, so fingers crossed, I’ll share that soon. I did get around to sharing a Throwback Thursday post this week though, which is a relief! This week, I decided it was time to talk about a much-loved series that I had the pleasure of growing up with. Like many teens, I dreamt of getting my letter to Hogwarts. Alas, I just have to content myself with the magic in the pages of books!

 

Books Read

This week I finished reading The Barefoot Road by Vivienne Vermes. When I wrote my Sunday Summary post last week, I was halfway through the book. I’m glad that I managed to read this in plenty of time for the now imminent blog tour. I have a lot of deadlines coming up, so this is one to tick off the list! I enjoyed the book and it’s take on some difficult subjects – but more on that in my actual review!

I’ve definitely been a lot better on the reading front this week. Not only have I matched last week’s progress, I have also read half of Ragis by Donna Migliaccio. This is another tour I am taking part in – and sure looking forward to it too! I started this series at the beginning of the year and I am totally in love with it! So far, Ragis is living up to expectation and is proving easy to read (devour)!

Godsgrave is back on the agenda this week too! Gosh, aren’t I doing quite well?! Whilst working on my arty project, I listened to more of this audiobook. Listening in the morning just isn’t working out for me anymore, so I have stopped trying to be honest. Maybe I should try listening on my drive to work instead – I’m usually more awake then. Well, I sure HOPE so…

 

Books Discovered

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know Sunday treats (aka books) were purchased today! In my defence though… I was unsupervised. I usually spend Sunday’s with family, however, not today! I went shopping by myself, and before I know it, I was in Waterstones.

#sorrynotsorry

I decided to treat myself to another classic… and I chose Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. I’m trying to build up my collection slowly, so this is the latest edition! I also purchased the next book in The Gunslinger series, The Drawing of the Three. I bought and read the first book of the series in paperback; it would be sacrilegious not to continue the series that way, especially now I have the shelf space!

 

Coming Up…

I always look forward to this part of the post every week. It makes me look at the diary and temporarily cures my paranoia that I am going to/have missed a deadline! As I said above, I have a lot of deadlines coming up – and two of those are this week!

Starting on Wednesday, I have a Blog Tour review for Three Bloody Pieces by Elizabeth Davies. This is the first book of three; I am reading the next two books shortly for review at a later date! In the meantime, I would love if you could check out my thoughts on this first book when I post this week.

Next, I have another Blog Tour on Sunday! This is for The Barefoot Road, the first book I read this week. This is a standalone book that echoes historical fiction in its treatment of ethnic segregation and themes of witchcraft and religion. If you want to read more on that, check out my blog next Sunday.

 

 

Sunday SummarySo, as I have the Blog Tour scheduled, my Sunday Summary post is going to be slightly late. I’m going to schedule it for first thing Monday morning, so you don’t have to miss out on my weekly update and general musings. I hope to see you around for that!

 

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Authors

Any reader will tell you that over time, you will discover favourite authors.

Whether entrusting them to guide you through a lesser favoured genre, or you love their writing style, every author and their novels are different experiences for each of us.

I have been reading for many years, branching out more recently to try new books, authors and genres. Based on that, here are my Top Ten Favourite Authors:-

 

Stephen King

The Green Mile was the first book I picked up by Stephen King… and it kindled a real love for his writing. I have since gone on to read Pet Sematary, IT, The Gunslinger (book 1) and listen to The Stand as an audiobook. I have loved each and every one. Obviously The Green Mile is a little different to the majority of his writing. If anything, introducing myself to this author with this book made it easier for me to step into reading horror. It’s a genre I never thought I would like, but I have been proven wrong.

 

 

 

JK Rowling

It would have been criminal not to include J K Rowling on this list. I grew up with the Harry Potter books. They will forever be cemented as a part of my childhood/teen years. I read the last book of the series on holiday as a teenager – I think it was the last year I took physical books on holiday. I must have had four or five books in the suitcase (at least two were hardback; the weight must have been half books). This was the last book I was reading, and it was so good, I physically couldn’t put it down to pack the case to go home.

These will definitely need a re-read in the future!

 

 

Brandon Sanderson

Having read and LOVED the first Mistborn trilogy, I went on to read The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archives). I thought it would be difficult for Sanderson to best those books, but he did. It is taking all my efforts not to binge read the other two books that begin the series. Otherwise, I will be in for a VERY LONG WAIT for the remaining seven.

I am at the point now where I have added more of his books, just because they are his. I don’t know too much about them, but I am willing to give them a try regardless.

 

 

Laini Taylor

I have only read one of Laini Taylor’s books so far. I think it speaks volumes that I read the book outside of my TBR… and very quickly. I’ve also pre-ordered Muse of Nightmares ready for its release in October. Her writing is beautiful, her characters adorable and I just want more! I’ve also added Daughter of Smoke and Bone to the reading list because I loved Strange the Dreamer so much. This book also seems to have a lot of love, so I can’t wait to read this!

 

 

 

Terry Pratchett

I have become a Discworld nerd… that’s for sure. One of my friends in particular had read Pratchett’s work and raved about him a lot. I didn’t really get into the idea… but I think that is because she usually talked about it to one of her other friends. Let’s just say the friendship isn’t mutual and leave it there.

It’s bad that I let that reason put me off trying the books. I regret it now… but better late to the party than never, yes?

 

 

Terry Goodkind

I began reading the Sword of Truth series as a teenager, thanks to stumbling across Wizard’s First Rule in the school library. I’ll admit, since leaving school I haven’t really made much further progress with these books. That doesn’t mean I don’t intend to though! I love the characters and the world-building, but most importantly, the writing style. I think I am part way through book 5 of the series. I’ll have to give myself a re-cap and start that one again probably.

 

 

 

Bernard Cornwell

It is one of the rare occasions in which I had watched The Last Kingdom before I discovered it was based on a book series. When unveiling this “grand revelation” to a colleague who I knew had also watched the series… it turned out not to be a revelation to her at all. My disappointment at her knowing this already was short-lived, however, as she loaned me a copy of the book.

The rest, as they say, is history. Excuse the pun.

I have only read the first four books of the series so far, but Bernard Cornwell has plenty of other works. Irrespective of whether I have an established interest in the historical period they are based in already, I’ll read them anyway.

 

J. R. R. Tolkien

I don’t think I need to go into any particular detail when telling you which books this author is famous for. If you don’t know, then I wonder which rock you have lived under all your life.

I have read the most famous books of his, with the exception of The Silmarillion. There are an ample number of books that are based about the characters and history of the main series though. I hope to go on to read some of those. Unlike the other authors, his work is a little less diverse, but that is no criticism. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to develop Middle Earth to be the fantastical realm it is today.

 

George R R Martin

George R. R. Martin has written many works in his time. Most notably is he known for the Song of Ice & Fire series, (aka A Game of Thrones to those not familiar), he developed a lot of his writing skill in producing short stories.

I read A Game of Thrones first, before I realised many of his short stories were in anthologies and other publications. I went on to read those based on my love of this series. All I knew was that he wrote science-fiction, and not much else. I love some of those stories though – the first that comes to mind is Sand Kings.

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that I will read pretty much anything this God of literature sees fit to put on paper. Whether my genre or not, I’ve enjoyed reading his works so far. Long may it continue!

 

Patrick Rothfuss

I cannot tell you how much I love this man’s series, The Kingkiller Chronicles. The narrative is beautiful. He is a master storyteller through and through.

I haven’t yet read anything else other than the above series… but the principle is the same. Patrick Rothfuss is basically an “auto buy” author. It doesn’t matter what he writes, I want it.

I’m quite intrigued by The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle series. These are in the format of children’s books… but are NOT children’s books. I am lead to believe they are quite dark, which I am curious to see. I must be a not-so-secret sadistic person!

 

 

Whose books do you love? Are there any authors you auto purchase books for? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 2nd September 2018

I look forward to writing my Sunday Summary every week. It’s a time to sit down and review what I’ve been doing and gauge how everything is. It’s my organisation time, if you like.

Some weeks are better than others. There are times when I manage to make progress on three or four books. Other times it’s only one, or hardly at all. Last week wasn’t such a great week for reading. Family was visiting, which took out some of my time, but I was in a bit of a slump.

I am hoping that the progress I have made this week is enough to break me out of it. I don’t really have time to be in a slump, with so many blog tours coming up in the next couple of months! I’ve come to think that maybe the belief that I have overstretched myself was one of the causes of my slump. I’m feeling better about it now though – I know when I am due to be reviewing the books on my list and I am confident I can do it!

 

Looking back to what has happened this week, I posted another Down the TBR Hole post on Wednesday. I managed to take three books off the list, so it was time well spent! It is getting to the point where the books on the list were added not too long ago, so I anticipate that going forward, I’ll be taking fewer books off the list than I have historically.

Yesterday, I published my reading list for September; if you want to see which books I am reading for upcoming blog tours, check out that post!

 

Books Read

 

When I lamented to you about my lack of progress last week, I told you that I had only read the first few chapters of Three Bloody Pieces. I’m pleased to say that I have made a lot more progress this week. I have so nearly finished it; I am going to call it done. There is one chapter left, and I am going to read it tonight. It’s so near as damn it!

I am also back on the audiobooks, after a couple of weeks break. I’ve started a bit of an arty project (again) and listening to these at the same time is perfect! I am picking up where I left off with Nevernight, by listening to Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. I’ve listened to about 15% of the book in the last couple of days, which is good progress!

 

Books Discovered

 

I have been VERY good this week. There is literally nothing to report here. I haven’t added a single book to the list or even bought any…

*faints*

 

 

Coming Up…

toptentuesdayI enjoy writing Top Ten Tuesday posts… and I’ve been having a think about what topic I could feature next. Rather than focussing on books themselves, I’ve decided that this week, I’ll share my Top Ten favourite, go-to authors. I think I might struggle to narrow this down to ten…

 

I’ll be continuing my throwback mini-series on Thursday, with a review of another book or series I have read and am yet to review. I hope you can spare a few moments to join me for that!

 

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 29th July 2018

I look forward to writing my Sunday Summary post every week. I know it’s hard to believe, but the art of committing my week to paper a blog post JUST pips the prospect of looking forward to a 6:40am start the following day.

I’m weird, right?!

This week I have been back to the early starts and long days. I already wish I have another holiday to look forward to. Getting back into the blogging routine has been both joyously familiar and hard work. It’s easy to get out the habit, I think. Not only that, I don’t exactly do things by halves. This will be my fourth blog post this week, which is a rarity.

I posted my first Top Ten Tuesday for a while, and this time I focussed on the books I am looking forward to re-reading at some point. Most of them are either books read in my childhood/teenage years, or influential books that cover difficult topics.

On Friday, I was a part of the cover reveal for book four of the Gemeta Stone series by Donna Migliaccio, Ragis. As a part of that cover reveal, there is currently a giveaway for a chance to win a necklace just like the Gemeta Stone itself. Don’t leave it too late to get your entry in!

Then, yesterday, (slightly later than billed, sorry) I shared my review for A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. I originally intended to read this book earlier on in the year, but as usual, things get in the way. Anyway, I finally got there!

 

Books Read

Children of Blood & Bone

Not only have I been busy at work and generally getting back into the daily grind – ahem… routine, I’ve also been catching up with friends and family since coming back from my trip. The yarn I am setting up here is that I didn’t get to read as much as I had hoped. This week, I have made progress with reading Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, but that’s all. Usually I have at least two books listed here – but, as I said, I’ve been busy. I’ll be better I promise!!

 

Books Discovered

I added one book to the list this week, which is pretty restrained for me. I have enjoyed reading a couple of historical fiction novels based around Ancient Egypt. With that in mind, I’ve added The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt to the list!

Whilst not strictly an addition to the list (because it’s already on there), I purchased a copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak this week. I originally added The Book Thief to my TBR in June last year, but as the opportunity came up to get hold of a copy – I did!

 

Coming Up…

I feel like I say this EVERY SINGLE TIME, but its August next week. I’m just going to let that sink in. AUGUST!!! It barely feels like two minutes ago since I was saying that about March. Anyone who says time doesn’t run away from you faster the older you get is a liar.

A new month means a new reading list! Tuesday’s are a great day for me to post, so if you want to check out which books I’ll be reading (and maaaaayybe carrying over from this month – oops!), stay tuned. I am determined to get the first book on the list read because I have been trying to read it for ages and ages! I’ll be so disappointed if I don’t enjoy it now! Mind you, it is a recommendation from a friend and I think she has read the whole series. I trust her taste in books. I’m sure I’ll like it.

 

For my post on Friday, I want to write something a little different. My plan is still subject to change – maybe the feature topic in itself will change, but I want to write a discussion post. Once published, I would love some feedback if you can spare a moment or two.

 

 

Lastly, as ever, I’ll be rounding up the week in the usual manner.

 I hope you have a great week and I look forward to seeing you around! 

Book Review Banner

Book Review: The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

*** I received a free copy of The Toymakers from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own***

The Toymakers

Goodreads – The Toymakers

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

 

My Thoughts…

I finished reading this book at the end of May, but due to other blogging commitments, I have been unable to find the time to write my review. Usually, leaving a review for so long can make it difficult to remember the impression the book made on you at the time. However, there are a few stand out points that make this book quite unforgettable.

I cannot put into words how well Robert Dinsdale captures the spirit, imagination and the magic of being a child. I may be twenty-three years old, but there were times I wished I was transported to the age of childhood innocence. It may sound daft – hey, you’re an adult! Magic isn’t real! That is where you are wrong.

In stark contrast to the joy and wonder of youth and fun of the Toy Emporium, sixteen-year-old Cathy is due to become a mother. Shunned by her parents for the impropriety of being with child out of wedlock, she flees to the Emporium to start afresh. There, she raises her child and the two of them become part of the Emporium family.

As Emil and Kaspar wage their boyhood wars, the true horrors of real war come to haunt many families. Boys are sent to the trenches. Those that come back are not the same as the boys who left to fight for Queen and country.

I was fascinated at how Papa Jack came to be a toymaker. His back-story is rich and inspiring in equal measure. The life of the Toymaker has not been easy, and it is from the darkest shadows that the brightest light shines. Beauty, love, awe, and inspiration go hand in hand with the horror and brutality, trials and hardship of the world – this inseparable combination captures the essence of life.

 

In Summary…

I don’t think I can successfully put into words just how much I loved this book! Each character is unique and has their part to play. It is a wonderful blend of historical fiction and fantasy – lovers of either genre would enjoy reading The Toymakers for themselves. As an avid reader of BOTH genres… perhaps then you can see why I enjoyed the book so much! I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in these genres. I don’t think you will regret it.

Reading List - July 2018

Reading List – July 2018

By the beginning of July last year, I had read 30 books – which is an amazing achievement! This year, I’m a little bit slower on 25, but I am still more than happy with that! Bearing in mind that I am now self-hosted and trying to write better quality posts, I think the tradeoff is worth it!

Reading fewer books this year has definitely given me that opportunity to put more of the necessary time into my blog. It does mean, however, that some of the books I planned to read this year weren’t even touched. Therefore, I am dedicating July to tying off some of the loose ends and reading books I should have gotten around to sooner:-

Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery (London Murder Mysteries #1-2)

Goodreads – Death in Dulwich

Goodreads – The Girl in the Gallery

I’m starting July exactly where I left off last month because I have a blog tour coming up for this series. On the 14th July, I’ll be reviewing both Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery. I’ve run over on these because I had a wonderful opportunity to read and review Ravencry by Ed McDonald for Gollancz. However, with a shorter deadline than these two books, I had to put them aside temporarily to fulfill all of my obligations.

I’m currently over half way through Death in Dulwich, so I did manage to get a fair amount of this read last month. The narrative is reasonably easy to follow and Beth is a well-developed character. I am yet to decide if she is a particularly reliable narrator, or just an overzealous woman desperate for the truth. All will pan out in due course, I am sure.

A Darker Shade of Magic

Goodreads – A Darker Shade of Magic

Back in February this year I vowed to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic and experience the writing of V.E. Schwab for myself – only, never got to. This is a series I feel I could really get into, so I need to take the plunge and get reading. I am not putting this off any longer.

The premise of magic and the idea of multiple realities, without really being science-fiction is really interesting. If the ratings on Goodreads are anything to go by, I don’t think I’ll regret reading this book. We’ll just have to see if it lives up to expectation!

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood and Bone is one of my April cast-offs. Conversations are still being had about this book on the likes of Twitter and other social media platforms, and I am intrigued by the magic in the narrative. I have waited too long to pick up this book, and can only hope I enjoy reading it as much as I want to.

There has been a lot of buzz about the book highlighting issues experienced by ethnic minorities. In an interview on Mashable with Toni Adeyemi, she explains that there are references to police brutality and racism within. I’m also really looking forward to seeing a different culture. Reading Children of Blood & Bone will be an entirely new experience for me.

The Mansions of Murder

Mansions of Murder

Goodreads – The Mansions of Murder

March of the ARC’s (aka, my March reading list) was a reasonably long list, and I didn’t get around to picking up this one. This is my last Netgalley read, so once I have reviewed the book I am going to close my account.

This is not the only reason I want to read the book though. I am enjoying a few mystery reads at the moment. Combine this with its historical theme and there you have a book with promise. In my eyes anyway… and that’s what counts, right?

The Eye of the World

the eye of the world

Goodreads – The Eye of the World

This poor book has been on my TBR since 2014 and I STILL haven’t gotten around to it! I’ve re-read the first chapter sample several times. The writing really interests me, but I just can’t seem to commit to picking up the book. I have sampled the audiobook book before to get around this subconscious aversion I have. Unfortunately, I don’t like the narration. I will prefer reading myself for sure. I am now on a mission to read this (at least this year) because my friend Rachael devoured the series herself and recommended it to me.

I’ve already given myself a back-out clause for this month though. I know, I know. Call me awful, whatever, but I have a busy month coming up personally. I have over a week booked off work, but I am visiting family for some of that time. As a result, I can’t promise I’ll spend that time reading.

Obviously, I am going to try to read as much as I can though. Pinky promise.

What is good is that I already have most of these books (I think I only need to buy The Eye of The World), and I am pretty much on a spending ban until then. I’ve already bought myself a few books to make myself feel better about the prospect…

Which books are you picking up this July?

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Book Review: A Conversation with a Cat – Stephen Spotte

 ***I was kindly provided with a free copy of this book by OpenBooks in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

A Conversation with a Cat is a great introduction to the lives of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony, especially for those without the opportunity to learn about these remarkably powerful historical figures.

 

A Conversation With A Cat

Goodreads – A Conversation with a Cat

 

Synopsis

Stephen Spotte’s imaginative novel recounts the tales of a scroungy former alley cat named Jinx, whose memories aren’t just his own but those of other cats who existed before him, one of which was Annipe, Cleopatra’s pampered pet. Through Annipe’s eyes the ancient Mediterranean world of Cleopatra and her legendary lovers, Caesar and Antony, spread before us in all its glory, pathos, and absurdity. Jinx reveals these stories telepathically one night to his stoned and inebriated owner just home after gall bladder surgery. Annipe’s memories are bookended by Jinx’s own that detail his early scavenging days in bleak urban alleys.

“Could not stop reading this unique and curious account of a major period in history. Viewing events that shook the ancient world through the eye of a feline makes one want to view today’s news stories through the same lens. Never read a book with such a unique perspective. And it was fun.”—Edward R. Ricciuti, author of Bears in the Backyard

 

My Thoughts

Prior to reading the book, my knowledge of Cleopatra came from Shakespeare. To be honest, my understanding of Shakespeare is sketchy. It always has been. Studying Antony & Cleopatra without a consistent teacher – I had no chance really. Sigh.

I was as good as a complete newbie to this topic. Did I find it interesting? Absolutely! The details don’t bog the story down at all, but a lot of research has gone into the novel. The historical superpowers use their brains and brawn (amongst other things) to vie for power. The kind of things that cause salacious gossip and disgruntled wives. The lavishness and decadence of the ruling class are both enticing and beautifully described; Stephen ensures each scene is deliberately picturesque.

The book is cleverly written to pull off its conversational tone.

A commentary is given by Jinx, (in addition to narrating Cleopatra’s life from Annipe’s memory) which is interesting and charismatically witty. Jinx is a feline with “cattitude” and it definitely shows in the narrative! Naturally, the concept of a cat striking up a conversation with you telepathically is far-fetched. However, the story and circumstances are set up humorously so that it pushes boundaries, but isn’t unbelievable.

 

The perspective offered in this book is truly a unique one. Jinx reminisces about Ancient Egypt, as cats historically were held in higher esteem there. They were worshipped like Gods – unlike him, who finds his freedom and virility catnapped in one fell swoop, as we learn later. You can imagine his tail twitching in agitation even now. The balance between the present day and recounting Cleopatra’s reign is perfect. I would even go so far as to say that even somebody who doesn’t love historical fiction as much as I do could get on with it.

A Conversation with a Cat is funny and approachable to read. I personally really enjoyed the book – the fact that I read it in only two days speaks volumes.