Tag: historical fiction

Guest Post Stephen Spotte

Guest Post – Stephen Spotte

I was delighted when Kelly from OpenBooks advised me that Stephen Spotte wanted to contribute a guest post to my blog. I recently read A Conversation with a Cat, his new novel – for which I am writing a review very soon!

Today, the spotlight is on Stephen himself. In his post, Stephen gives us an enjoyable introduction to the novel by telling us about the paws behind the cause. I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I did!

 


Stephen Spotte

My wife Lucia and I occupy a beach house on a barrier island off Florida’s southwest coast where we share space with a large black cat named Jinx, a selfish creature who alternately ignores us and demands our attention. Cats are world-renowned sack-out artists. The average domestic cat is fully awake about four hours of every twenty-four, and Jinx is no exception. A cat can fall asleep almost anywhere, but most have preferred napping sites, one of Jinx’s being my desk beside the computer. There heat from the desk lamp puts him into a soporific state aptly described as cat-atonic. Having zonked out, Jinx stretches and twitches as I struggle to write, maybe dreaming of plump, slow-footed mice or one-night stands after an evening of dumpster-diving during his former life as a virile tom, king of the urban alleys.

Jinx the cat - Stephen SpotteOccasionally he creates sentences of his own when an errant paw paw comes to rest inadvertently on the keyboard. These usually appear on the screen as zzzzzzzzzz or eeeeeeeeee. Interesting, although not exactly literary keepers. Such episodes of somnolent creativity are disrupted by intermittent arousal when he sits up to blink away the sleep and gives me a raspberry. Once I was prepared and snapped his picture.

We know nothing of Jinx’s kittenhood and early adolescence, having obtained him several years ago at a local animal shelter. No other visitors had shown interest because black cats are considered bad luck, another of those inane superstitions like belief in ghosts that persist no matter the sophistication of our cultural development.

No one working at the shelter could recall exactly how long Jinx had resided there among the dozens of unwanted cats. On the day we visited the record stated only that Animal Control trapped him in an alley. Soon after arriving he was de-balled, de-wormed, de-ticked, de-loused, vaccinated, and put up for “adoption,” an ambiguous term where cats are concerned. Dogs in their slavering servitude look forward eagerly to being “owned,” a concept universally disdained by cats. As solitary and basically anti-social creatures cats accept human companionship only if the arrangement is personally beneficial and doesn’t trample on their self-respect.

At one time in at least one place that respect was returned with astonishing reverence. Egyptians from the first century BCE (before current era) given a glimpse of contemporary American society would be alarmed and confused by how far domestic cats have fallen in the esteem of ordinary citizens. Sure, you can log into social media and see thousands of cute cat pictures, but cats no longer possess the lofty status they enjoyed in Cleopatra’s day.

 

A Conversation with a Cat

A Conversation With A CatMy new novel titled A Conversation with a Cat features and juxtaposes the lives of Jinx and an imaginary pet cat of Cleopatra’s I call Annipe (daughter of the Nile). Jinx gives us his memoir in chapters that bookend Annipe’s tales. As she reports, “Cats were sacred in ancient Egypt, represented by the cat goddess Bastet and worshipped at temples dedicated in her honor. . . . Even when an ordinary household cat died all human members of the family were required to shave their eyebrows as a sign of mourning, and when the head of a household passed away and was mummified his cat was killed and mummified too. Tradition also called for embalming a few mice so the cat would have snacks in the netherworld.” Although cats have become the most popular pets in the U. S. (dogs trail a distant second), they don’t receive universal respect in any modern country, and certainly nobody today worships them. Don’t take this on my word, just ask any cat you meet.

To hear Annipe tell it, “That cats were worshipped and temples dedicated to [Bastet] is certainly no less than we deserve. And the citizens protected us with a fervor to make Bastet proud. I’ll give an example. When Mistress [Cleopatra] was still a young girl a Roman official visiting Alexandria killed a cat accidently, whereupon a mob of enraged citizens attacked him and ripped him apart. Even earlier, in 525 BCE, the Persians led by the general Cambyses III invaded Egypt only to be stopped at the city of Pelusium. Cambyses ordered images of Bastet painted on the shields of his soldiers, at which point Egyptian resistance collapsed. Think of it: the Egyptians surrendered their country rather than see their cats disrespected. How many times has that happened in human history?

“It should come as no surprise that we cats have always considered ancient Egypt the apex of human development and agree unanimously that after Egypt fell to Roman hands your species underwent a steady regression, a reverse cultural evolution. Romans were arrogant. They thought that anyone who didn’t speak Latin was a barbarian, but to Alexandrians they were the barbarians. And through the centuries others followed. Want proof? Look around at the state of the world and don’t blame us cats for what you see.”

Just as Jason sought the golden fleece, perhaps every cat’s ultimate dream is to capture a rodent with gold-colored fur. I say this despite knowing that cats have bi-chromatic vision and therefore are color-blind. Nonetheless Jinx seems to come alert when he sees President Trump pontificate on television, and I must admit that as the president climbs the stairs to board Air Force One the back of his head does resemble the south end of a golden hamster heading north.

 


About the author

Stephen SpotteStephen Spotte, a marine scientist, was born and raised in West Virginia. He has been a field biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station (Vicksburg, Mississippi); curator and later director of Aquarium of Niagara Falls (New York); curator of the New York Aquarium and Osborn Laboratories of Marine Science (Brooklyn, New York); director of Mystic Aquarium (Mystic, Connecticut); executive director of Sea Research Foundation and research scientist at the Marine Sciences and Technology Center, University of Connecticut (Groton, Connecticut); principal investigator, Coral Reef Ecology Program (Turks and Caicos Islands, B.W.I.), and adjunct scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory (Sarasota, Florida).

Dr. Spotte has a B.S. degree from Marshall University, a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi, and is author or coauthor of more than 80 scientific papers on marine biology, ocean chemistry and engineering, and aquaculture. Field research has encompassed much of the coastal U.S., Canadian Arctic, Bering Sea, West Indies, Indo-West Pacific, Central America, and the Amazon basin of Ecuador and Brazil. His popular articles about the sea have appeared in National Wildlife, On the Sound, Animal Kingdom, Explorers Journal, and Science Digest.

Dr. Spotte has also published 18 books, including three volumes of fiction, a memoir, and a work of cultural theory. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist of The Wildlife Society and also holds a U.S. Merchant Marine officer’s license.

Dr. Spotte now lives and writes from his home in Longboat Key, Florida

 

Purchase links: OpenBooks     Amazon

Sunday Summary June 2018

Sunday Summary – 24th June 2018

Good evening folks! Another week draws to a close and it’s time to share my weekly progress (aka Sunday Summary) with you. I anticipated that this week was going to be less productive than my previous week, because:-

  • Last week was a good week for me, by any standards
  • I have had a redecoration project planned

 

I had a couple of days of work this week (yay!), but due to redecorating, they were FAR from relaxing!. As a result, I can’t say I managed to read as much as I hoped to. I’ve also been doing my fair share of writing blog posts, so I suppose I can claw that time back in the next day or two instead.

 

Books Read

My week began with finishing Blackwing by Ed McDonald – and what a way to start a week. I devoured this book in about two days, which speaks volumes about how much I enjoyed it! With a page count of approximately 380 pages, I am actually pretty impressed with myself on this one!

I swiftly moved on to Death in Dulwich by Alice Castle, first of two books in the London Murder Mysteries series I am reviewing next month. So far I am 28% through the book, which isn’t horrendous progress, but I would have liked to have read a little more on this one. Perhaps next week will be more fruitful.

My review copy of Ravencry arrived this week and I haven’t been more excited for a book in a little while. As I am due to be reviewing this early next month rather than mid next month, I started reading this as well. Admittedly, this is why Death in Dulwich was put on the back-burner – a girl has to prioritise somehow! I’ve acquainted myself with the first 45 pages or so, but after this, I had to prioritise redecorating, so I’m no further than that.

All in all, this isn’t the worst week I’ve had reading – actually taking the time to look at it properly; it doesn’t seem as bad as I thought it was. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve added Bard – The Odyssey of the Irish by Morgan Llewellyn to the TBR on the recommendation from a friend. We were discussing our mutual interest in historical fiction books when he told me about it. Since Ireland is close to home, it’s only fair to learn how and by whom the country became inhabited.

I read a fantastic review of The Court of Broken Knives by The Tattooed Book Geek today; such a good review that it makes me want to read it for myself. I want to try and read more from the Dark Fantasy sub-genre and this seems like a good place to start!

 

 

Coming Up…

Three Things Noone tells you about going self hostedI already have tomorrow’s post prepared for you – which is a rarity on my part! It’s a topic I decided to write about a couple of weeks ago. You may know that I recently transferred my blog from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. After researching and completing the process, I felt there wasn’t much information out there about what to expect after going self-hosted. Hopefully, my post tomorrow will give you a few pointers about what to expect.

 

I’m really looking forward to sharing Wednesday’s post as it was kindly contributed by the author of A Conversation with A Cat, Stephen Spotte. I was recently provided with a copy by OpenBooks in exchange for a review. Stephen has prepared a humorous insight into his book and the top cat that inspired his work, Jinx.

Naturally, my review of A Conversation with A Cat will follow on Thursday. I hope you can take a minute or two out of your day to check out my thoughts.

 

Sunday Summary June 2018My Sunday Summary will take usual pride of place – and I hope to be sharing news of a more productive week.

 

Book Review Banner

Book Review: The Irrationalist – Andrew Pessin

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

The Irrationalist

Goodreads – The Irrationalist

Who would want to murder the world’s most famous philosopher?

Turns out: nearly everyone.

In 1649, Descartes was invited by the Queen of Sweden to become her Court Philosopher. Though he was the world’s leading philosopher, his life had by this point fallen apart. He was 53, penniless, living in exile in Amsterdam, alone. With much trepidation but not much choice, he arrived in Stockholm in mid-October.

Shortly thereafter he was dead.

Pneumonia, they said. But who could believe that? There were just too many persons of interest who wanted to see Descartes dead, and for too many reasons. That so many of these persons were in Stockholm—thanks to the Gala the Queen was throwing to celebrate the end of the terrible Thirty Years’ War—made the official story all the less plausible. Death by poisoning was the unofficial word on the cobblestone.

Enter Adrien Baillet. A likeable misfit with a mysterious backstory, he arrives just as the French Ambassador desperately needs an impartial Frenchman to prove that Descartes died of natural causes—lest the “murder” in Lutheran Sweden of France’s great Catholic philosopher trigger colicky French boy-King Louis XIV to reignite that awful War. Baillet hesitatingly agrees to investigate Descartes’s death, knowing that if—or when—he screws up, he could be personally responsible for the War’s Thirty-First Year.

But solving the mystery of Descartes’s death (Baillet soon learns) requires first solving the mystery of Descartes’s life, with all its dangerous secrets … None of it is easy, as nearly everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted. Nor does it help that he must do it all under the menacing gaze of Carolus Zolindius, the terrifying Swedish Chancellor with the strangely intimidating limp.

But Baillet somehow perseveres, surprising everyone as he figures it all out—all the way to the explosive end.

 

Introduction

The Irrationalist is perfect for fans of historical fiction, particularly if you like the dish detailed and with a side of pretty gruesome violence.

Adrien Baillet, an impartial Frenchman, investigates the death of Rene Descartes on the orders of Zolindus, second in command to the Queen of Sweden. So long as his findings report death by natural causes, he will be spared a prickly fate himself. With nowhere to turn, he begins his investigation… but the evidence points to anything but a natural demise. With nearly everyone a suspect, Baillet can trust no one. Piece by piece, he unravels the mystery.

 

My Thoughts

I feel sorry for Adrien Baillet. Finding himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, he has to “investigate” Descartes death. He cannot afford to refuse if he wants to keep his head, but without the funds to return home, he can’t escape Sweden either. Young and lacking experience in the ways of court, he is the perfect puppet for Zolindus to manipulate.

I like how flawed Baillet is as a character. Despite having noble intentions, he is weak – cowardly even. What he lacks in strength he makes up for in intelligence. In that, Zolindus underestimates him. A lot of books paint protagonists to be the best of the best, but this is unrealistic. These characters are human and by nature, are not perfect. Baillet’s fear and inability to stand up for himself helps raise the tension of the narrative. With murder and subterfuge lurking around every corner, it is easy to understand his paranoia.

The plot is well developed, which is necessary given the complexity of the murder investigation. Baillet considers the potential motive of every character, but the conclusions drawn aren’t forced in order to make everyone a suspect. Every motive is well explained and backed-up, which I imagine is a very difficult thing to achieve. It would take a lot of knowledge and research to make this novel work so well, which Andrew Pessin has accomplished effortlessly.

Within the narrative of the investigation are chapters that look back into the past life of Rene Descartes, before he makes it to Sweden. Not only do these provide a lot of insight into his relations with other characters, (usually outlining why there was bad blood), but they change the pace of the book to make a refreshing break from the heat of the moment in Sweden.

 

Conclusion

Honestly, I didn’t anticipate the ending at all – which is a measure of a good mystery to my mind. We come to our own conclusions about the murder; but there is nothing like a good 11th-hour plot twist to keep us on our toes.

Sunday Summary June 2018

Sunday Summary – 17th June 2018

Since today is Father’s Day, it won’t be a surprise that I have been spending the day with my Dad. I do every weekend. Not only is Sunday a family day (at least it is here) – it’s also an opportunity to look back and reflect. So firstly, happy Father’s Day Dad! I wouldn’t be half the person I am without you!

(literally)

Whitney Houston not funny

ANYWAY… shall I just get on with what I’ve been reading this week? Yes. Alright. Good.

 

Books Read

Many books have been read this week, my friends.

I’ve been reading The Irrationalist by Andrew Pessin for the past couple of weeks or so and it was great to see this wonderfully detailed novel through to its unexpected conclusion! It took little longer to read because it requires full concentration. As a historical fiction fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and its twists and turns.

The next book I picked up was A Conversation with A Cat by Stephen Spotte. I kid you not, I think I read it in two sittings within 24hrs… or near as dammit. Sticking with the historical fiction genre, this book looks back at the life of Cleopatra from a unique perspective. As a period of history I haven’t really had the opportunity to study, I devoured the content of this book. My experience of Cleopatra comes from reading “Antony and Cleopatra” in GCSE English. An essay was garbled together. Somehow. Sorcery must have been performed, because to this day, I have very little recollection of what happened. I can’t read Shakespeare for love nor money – I keep threatening to teach myself.

Anyone regularly reading my updates may notice that this week, I haven’t included Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. It’s more by chance than conscious decision I haven’t listened to the audiobook at all this week. Instead, I ended up picking up a book not on my list at all! Since I have been making great progress in reading the books on my TBR this month, I felt a little break from the routine was required as a reward. Having recently obtained a copy of Blackwing to review by Gollancz, and with Ravencry due to release shortly… I couldn’t resist picking this up! I have only been reading it this weekend (well, yesterday really) and I am already just over 200 pages in. Who knows how much longer it will last until I’m done? I give it a day, at this rate.

 

Books Discovered

 

This week I’ve been pretty good, and by that I mean I’ve added the books to my list without actually dipping my hand into my pocket. Yet.

Payday is eagerly awaited this month, so I am trying to avoid spending where possible for the next week or so. I’ve got a bit of a redecorating project next week, which turned out to be a little pricier than I anticipated… but oh well. If a job is worth doing and all that.

I have enjoyed reading Brandon Sanderson so far; after spotting The Rithmatist as a suggestion on Amazon, I had to add it to the list.

Eve of Man seems to be doing a few rounds of social media lately, which coincidentally began after I saw the book in a local store. I love the idea of the dystopian type theme, but I’ll admit I have a reservation over the implied love-interest/conflict, which I probably won’t like. I’m a hard-hearted soul! For the moment I am adding this to the list and keeping an eye out for reviews before I get myself a copy. It may not be my cup of tea after all.

I pre-ordered a copy of Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor this week and I was reminiscing over my love of Strange the Dreamer. I decided there and then that I COULDN’T POSSIBLY wait until October for Muse of Nightmares to be released, so I am going to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone this summer. I’ve also heard nothing by praise for this, so I am looking forward to it already!

 

Coming Up…

I refuse to eff this up this week.

down the tbr holeIt’s been a while since I looked at my ever-growing TBR pile, and I really feel I need to tame that monster.  Whittling the list down is hard work, but someone has to do it. I began using a meme, originally hosted by Lia at Lost in a Story and I’ve had moderate success so far. So, I’ll be writing another Down the TBR hole post on Tuesday.

 

The Irrationalist

I want to go ahead and review The Irrationalist whilst the book is fresh in my mind. I am awful in the sense that I don’t really make notes when I read (a bad habit I am trying to remedy). Since there are a few things I really want to cover in my review, it’s best that I write it sooner rather than later. With that in mind, I’m looking to publish my review on Friday this week.

 

 

 

So that’s all from me for now folks! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I hope to see you all around very soon!

Top Summer Reads

Rebecca’s Top Summer Reads

How do you even go about choosing your top summer reads when there are just SO MANY books out there?! It’s a tough one to call! In order to tackle the problem, I’ve decided to split this column into two main sections, with a final section including the books I hope to read during the sunny season.

Everyone has different tastes as well, so the books I choose are probably different from yours. I hope to cover as many genres as I can so that something appeals to you, dear reader – so without further adieu, let’s get started!

Light / Humorous Books

The Queen & I – Sue TownsendThe Queen & I - Sue Townsend

My mum recommended this book to me years and years ago – and I actually have it downloaded on my kindle. I started reading the first few chapters all those aeons ago, but I haven’t finished the book. I used to be very selective about the books I read, (once upon a time) and I found it difficult to read anything that wasn’t Fantasy. Were I to re-visit this now, I think I would appreciate it a lot more! There’s just something about the idea of the Queen being forced to live on a council estate that spells humorous disaster!

 

 

 

The Rag Nymph - Catherine CooksonThe Rag Nymph – Catherine Cookson

I have included this book here because the narrative is easy to read. I have Yorkshire influence in my family too, so “Raggie Aggie” reminds me of mum when I was growing up. The fond memories I have and the familiarity of her character must play its part in my choosing this book. Set in 1854, this book will appeal to fans of historical fiction. This novel does have mature themes, however; if you are looking for something lighthearted I would point you in another direction.

 

 

 

I Don’t Know How She Does It – Allison PearsonI Don't Know How She Does It - Allison Pearson

Please don’t think I am discriminating here guys – but in this section, I’m giving a nod to a book categorised as “chick lit”. That’s not to say you can’t read this book – for the most part, I wouldn’t describe this as my genre either.

This entry is another in which I have read part of the book, but not finished. Again, it was years ago I first found myself laughing at Allison’s take on the trials and tribulations of “the working mum”. Whilst the expectations of a mother may be a little out of date now, the book is laugh-out-loud funny. Allison made a rip-roaring return to the series by publishing How Hard Can It Be? last year, proving that there is still the demand to laugh at (and relate to) Kate Reddy’s parenthood troubles.

 

 

Epic/Long Reads

 

 

The Last Kingdom - Bernard CornwellThe Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell

Maybe you prefer to sit down with a heavier book – perhaps you want to be transported to another world/universe entirely. Let the sun, sea and sand melt away and the riotous clash of swords fade in. Going abroad was never a peaceful affair in times past. If you’d like to reminisce on those English shores many moons ago, then The Last Kingdom (aka The Saxon Chronicles) may be your cup of tea.

 

 

 

IT – Stephen KingIT - Stephen King

Looking for a challenge? Are you happy to dedicate your soul to one book? Do you like horror? Then I challenge you to read IT by Stephen King. I read this book back in October last year – in time for Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa locally). The book was unnerving rather than scary, in my opinion, so I wouldn’t say it was unapproachable for anyone. That is, unless you are intimidated by clowns or the page count. At approximately 1,370 pages, it will keep you occupied for some time… or hiding under the covers.

 

 

The Way of Kings - Brandon SandersonThe Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson

If a series based with its own established Universe, complete with a unique magic system appeals to you, then The Way of Kings is my recommendation for you.

The depth of history and world-building in this epic series will have you in awe, my friends. If it weren’t for the fact that Brandon Sanderson has only published the third book of the series just recently, I would have binge-read the entire thing by now! I am forcibly restraining myself – trust me.

 

 

Empire of Silence – Christopher RuocchioEmpire of Silence - Christopher Ruocchio

Here is one for fans of science-fiction.

I was floored by this when I read it… and soon you can too! With a publishing date of the 5th July, I have high hopes that this book will soar in popularity this summer. Whether you are a veteran sci-fi fan or a relative newbie, this can be enjoyed by all.

If you want to decide if this is for you or not, you can find my recent review of the book here.

 

 

 

My Summer Reads

So, which books am I planning on reading this summer? There are lots to choose from and an inevitably never-ending TBR list! It’s taken some time to narrow it down, but here are three of my much-anticipated summer reads:-

 

Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor

I loved Strange the Dreamer… and I cannot wait until October until the release of Muse of Nightmares!

I’m serious – I cannot wait… and so this is why I have decided to pick up the first book of this series! I love Laini Taylor’s writing style – so much so that genres or themes I would normally not show a preference for can basically get away with murder.

 

 

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeThe Curious Incidenct of the Dog in the Night-time

I have wanted to read this book for such a long time… and now it is well overdue.

Not long ago I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and really enjoyed reading a narrative written from a child’s perspective. The added bonus with this is hopefully learning how people on the autistic spectrum perceive the world (or at least one interpretation of, anyway).

 

 

 

A Darker Shade of Magic - V E SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic – V.E Schwab

Considering I was supposed to read this in February this year… I have absolutely no excuse to put off A Darker Shade of Magic anymore. This is a hugely popular book and I have yet to see whether I love it as much as the hype would indicate I should.

I’ll admit I always take things like that with a pinch of salt, becuase we all have different opinions and tastes in books. I would be lying though if I said I wasn’t curious.

 

 

 

So – have any of the above books made your list? Perhaps you have read them already! Either way, I would love if you could drop me a like or a comment about what you are doing this summer.

Your devoted blogger,

Sunday Summary June 2018

Sunday Summary – 10th June 2018

Even the Sunday Summary post is late this week. Fabulous.

This week has been really topsy-turvy, and I feel like I’m apologising all the time for late posts. I’m probably the only person that notices. So yeah, sorry (again) for the late post. You can blame Windows updates on my laptop for this one – only after all the time and effort, it failed! That’s technology for you eh?

Anywho, here we are. Have you had a good reading week?

 

Books Read

I didn’t read as much as I would have liked this week. Again, I’ve been plagued with IT issues in getting my blog set up on a self-hosted site. Don’t get me wrong, the upgrade is certainly worth it and I’d do it all again, but I still have a number of broken links (250…ish) to fix, and that’s all after a very impatient wait to get my site transferred in the first place!

So, has the hard work paid off? What do you think of the new site?

In the moments I haven’t been inches away from throwing my laptop out of the nearest window, I been buried in one book or another. I’ve been making further progress in reading The Irrationalist by Andrew Pessin – if you want to know a little more of the story you can either check out my comments in last week’s Sunday Summary post or alternatively via OpenBooks. I would have liked to make a bit more progress on this one, but I am aiming to finish this by next Sunday’s post.

I have a Blog Tour coming up for Chilling Tales of the Unexpected, so I have also been reading the first couple of stories (out of the four within). That post is actually coming up next week, so finishing this short book is a priority for the next day or two. So far I am finding these reads really easy to either pick up as a break from heavy material or even in the few minutes before starting work. I don’t think it will take long to read the remainder of the book.

Lastly, Nevernight. Again, this is a book I am listening to and chipping away at in the mornings. I love the tone and humour in it – it really does brighten up my day! I’ll be needing the lift when the alarm goes off at 6:40 tomorrow morning, believe me.

 

Books Discovered

I have seen this book around for a while, but I confess I hadn’t read much about it or the reviews for it until last week. It has been displayed in my local *large chain bookshop* – so I decided I’d see what it was all about.

Aside from the vodka at weekends, this is just me. Routine 9-5 job, run-of-the-mill weekends… week in and week out. I think I will relate to this so much; I only wish I had looked at this sooner.

 

Coming Up…

This week, I think I am going to treat you to a Top Ten Tuesday post! We have had some absolutely fabulous weather over here – it must be a record for the longest dry-spell we have had. With that in mind, I am going to put together my Top Ten Summer reads. Maybe we’ll have some books in common!

 

 

 

So guys, as I mentioned earlier, I’ll be partaking in a Blog Tour this week for Chilling Tales of the Unexpected by Ann Girdharry. I am really looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you about this collection of short stories, so please tune in on Thursday.

 

 

 

And last, but not least, I’ll be wrapping up the week with my usual Sunday Summary post. I have actually quite enjoyed writing this post a little later in the day (writing a weekly wrap up and posting for midday on day seven seems a little strange, thinking about it). I’ve also found it a bit easier to write as I am not so time-pressured. Basically, I’m saying I am going to try this again next week.

 

I hope the wait has been worthwhile and I look forward to seeing you around! If you have a minute to drop me a line, your comments are always appreciated!

Audiobook Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

Later than billed, today I am sharing my review of the audiobook version of The Tattooist of Auschwitz. (Sorry! In my defence though, I did say probably Friday, not definitely). As a result of moving my blog to a self-hosted site, I have had a lot of back-end fixes to make. Naturally, this has eaten up my time. Apologies for any inconvenience folks – I am trying to get everything fixed as soon as I can!

So, without further delay –

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Goodreads – The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival—literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.

Like many survivors, Lale and Gita told few people their story after the war. They eventually made their way to Australia, where they raised a son and had a successful life. But when Gita died, Lale felt he could no longer carry the burden of their past alone. He chose to tell his story.

 

My Thoughts…

It is easy to forget that this is a story built around a true experience of the Holocaust. The depth of the narrative immerses you completely in the trials/ turmoils of Lale (pronounced La-le) and Gita Solokov. Taken away from his parents and transported to Auschwitz, Lale begins a new, cruel chapter of life. He is forced to tattoo the identification numbers on those brought into those awful concentration camps after him. Should he refuse, he would be killed and replaced without further consideration. Thousands died in that awful place (and many others just like it, no doubt).

Figuring that doing it in the kindest way he can is more merciful, he begrudgingly takes up the role. Exploiting what freedoms he has as a result of the role, he makes the lives of those he shares the camp with better.

 

“If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.”

 

It is difficult to believe that the horrors re-lived in Lale’s narrative are based on the atrocities that did, in fact, happen. I will openly admit I had forgotten that the book was written from a survivor’s experience by the end. The narrative pulls you right into the story and you share the feelings of despair, hated and desperation along with our characters.

There are even times when the characters you think you should hate… the gun-wielding officers charged with policing the camps, are seen in a compassionate light. Described as barely more than children themselves, they are only acting as instructed; they aren’t made out to be as evil as they could be. I think there’s truth in that. The majority were probably only acting out of self-interest, or fear, just as the prisoners were. A survivor would have every right to portray these men as the monsters for their oppression. To recognise that there was more to them than that takes wisdom. It begs the question, were the officers prisoners, of a sort, as well?

I have taken to listening to audiobooks whilst getting ready for work in the morning. On the last day of listening to this book, I wanted to finish it so badly that I listened to it in the car. If you are… sensitive… to difficult topics such as this, I do not recommend listening to the last couple of chapters whilst trying to drive. That or even when you are going out in public, for that matter! I made that mistake but spared myself too many questions with the help of a little bucket load of concealer.

 

The audiobook in itself is narrated remarkably well – I think Richard Armitage captured the tone of the text just right. Although the story covers a tragic and delicate topic, there were times in which to laugh; to love. Such is life… and at these times we, as the listener, were uplifted by these small victories. We very much feel a part of the fight to survive the oppression… and dream to live and love outside of the confines and squalour of the present as much as our protagonists do.

 

End Note

The Holocaust is always going to be a difficult topic to broach, but for me, that’s not a reason to shy away from it. It is only by educating ourselves and our children, then their children that we can seek to avoid making the same mistakes. I am by no means saying we will – but we can remain hopeful. I have tried to keep the detail to a minimum, as this will not be for everyone to read. If that is the case, then I wouldn’t recommend the book to you either. If, however, you enjoy historical fiction or have enjoyed reading books of a similar nature, then this will appeal to you.

It sounds awful phrasing it like that… but you know what I mean.

Reading List – June 2018

It is that time of the month again folks – a new month and a fresh reading list!

With it being beginning of June, it’s time to bring out the summer reading list! What are you going to be reading this month? Do you spend a summer holiday indulging in a lighter read, or hit the books hard? I personally like to indulge in the latter – with a lot of time to fill and some sun to soak up, I would absolutely read something… heavier.

Having the time to take in all the details and give a trickier book all of my attention, with no distractions, is certainly my cup of tea. Alas, I have no relaxing holidays planned yet, so I will have to content myself dreaming about it.

And I feel like I need a holiday after the past couple of days! I apologise to anyone who has tried to access my site, as you may have been unable to. Remember I promised you some news in my Sunday Summary post? Well, I can finally share it – I am officially self-hosting my blog! I’ve nearly thrown my laptop at the wall in frustration (impatience, basically)… but I got there! So, with a new behind the scenes set up and a new look to boot, I hope the wait was worth it for you! There are some niggles to work out still, like missing images on old posts, but please bear with me! I’ll be working my way through fixes shortly!

So, diversions aside, shall I get on with my reading list now?

 

The Irrationalist – Andrew Pessin

So this is a carryover from last month and I have already made decent progress. Whilst I did start this last month, I had no way of finishing it on time. Sounds like the story of my life at the moment! No matter, I am already around 40% through this historical-themed murder mystery… and I cannot wait for the plot to unfold even further!

 

A Conversation With A Cat – Stephen Spotte

A Conversation With A Cat is the next book on my list for this month. OpenBooks very kindly provided me with a copy in exchange for a review. I have to say I am definitely intrigued by the unique perspective in this book… a tale of history from the eyes of (many) cats! It really isn’t every day you get to say that – that’s for sure!

 

Chilling Tales of the Unexpected – Ann Girdharry

The next book on my list is for a blog tour I am taking part in shortly. Chilling Tales of the Unexpected is a collection of four short stories… and I’ll confess I have already whet my appetite and read the first tale this weekend gone. These are only short and I think will make great material if I want to snatch a quick read in my lunch hour, or even for a break between other books. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on the 12th June, so I do hope you can join me then!

 

The London Murder Mysteries #1 & #2 – Alice Castle

The next two books on my list are also ARC’s because I am reviewing BOTH for another tour next month. Basically, I didn’t want to leave myself short of time to read these (I know what I am like). I’m not taking part in this tour until the 14th July, so I have no excuses! Again, going for the murder mystery theme – I must be going through a phase – haha!

 

The Eye of the World – Robert Jordan

The last book on my list is not an ARC.

Shock horror, right? Actually, I added this book to the list because it has been on my TBR a shamefully long time. Three and a half years, in fact. I know.

I added this first book of a long and established series after a friend of mine completely devoured them in the last years of school. I think so far I have tried a sample of the first chapter, but I always get distracted by other books. I have also tried a sample of the audiobook for it, but frankly, I don’t like the way in which it is narrated. I would much rather read the book myself. So I will. I am putting my foot down, and finally reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

Have you read any of the books on my reading list for this month? I would love to hear from you, as always!

Sunday Summary – 3rd June 2018

Good morning everybody! It’s a beautiful day here; the sun is shining and I have plenty of chirpy visitors on my windowsill! I trust you are all having a pleasant day, whatever you are doing.

I have some good news to share with you soon, because it is something I have been looking into and getting excited about now for weeks…

I’m going to hold my cards to my chest for just a wee bit longer and tell you after the event. I don’t want to jinx anything… so please bear with me on this one. For now though, on to my Sunday Summary…

Books Read

So what have I been reading this week? Well, picking up from last week, I finished reading The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. The magic within makes you wish you were a child again. But the story has a darker side to it – one shaped by war and the effects it has on those that fight for their country.

Following on from this magical read, I picked up The Irrationalist by Andrew Pessin, which remains my current read. It is an intriguing read in which our Protagonist, Adrien Baillet, must pull apart the circumstances of the great René Descartes… death. With many a suspicious circumstance and plenty of enemies, it is difficult to believe that Descartes untimely death is natural, and Baillet can’t trust anybody but himself if he wants the truth. This is proving to be an interesting read so far, so I can’t wait to be able to tell you a little more about it.

I’ve also been listening to more of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – and I have to say that the humour in this book is really what I need to pull me out of my morning grumpiness sometimes. I love the characters, the story and the narration is just… on point. I’ve already bought Godsgrave with my next credit!

Books Discovered

There’s just a couple of books in this section today!

I was intrigued by the write up of The Hangman’s Daughter, no doubt probably because I am reading a similar kind of murder mystery type genre presently. Not only that, its historical setting and the references to witchcraft drew me in. I think this is a series I will come to love… when I finally get around to reading it!

Caraval – I added this book to my TBR a while ago, and I have finally bought this book. Admittedly, I have done so based on the hype around it; I hope that wasn’t a mistake. I’ve obviously seen a lot of people talking about this book, and Stephanie Garber, so it will be interesting to see what my thoughts are on the book!

Coming Up…

As it is the beginning of June, I’m hoping to share my reading list with you in the next couple of days! Usually I like to commit to days I’ll post, but this week I can’t really. All will be revealed, I promise!

Later on in the week (hopefully Friday) I am planning on sharing an audiobook review with you! This time, I am reviewing The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris… and I really can’t wait to tell you just why I loved this book!
Until next time friends,
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 27th May 2018

There is genuinely nothing more pleasant than a bank holiday weekend – especially if the sun is shining!
Feeling in the summery mood lately, I bought a small bird feeder that sticks to my window. Who knew such things existed?! You don’t have to have a garden to enjoy nature, it seems. Over the past few days I have had a number of small visitors to my windowsill.
So what else has been going on with me? This week I posted a couple of reviews to the blog, and I would really love if you could check them out (if you haven’t done so already)! On Wednesday I posted my review of Eternity’s Echoes by Evan Hirson, a science-fiction novel in which five teenagers harness the power of time travel. Sticking with the science-fiction theme, I shared my review of Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio. I really enjoyed reading both these books! Science-fiction books are enjoyable reads… but it’s not a genre I pick up everyday. I’ve decided I definitely need to read more of this genre.
 

Books Read


 
This week’s read is The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. In my Sunday Summary last week I touched on the book as I had just started reading it. Now I am just over half way through and I absolutely love it! It is a story of a Toy Emporium whose magic is legendary. The Emporium opens at first frost for the Christmas period and closes again when the snowdrops bloom. Cathy, a pregnant teenager runs away from the family that have shunned her and joins the Emporium. I love how and why Papa Jack created the Emporium. His life has not always been plain sailing, but it goes a long way to showing why he thinks and how the “magic” of his Emporium allures children and adults alike! I can’t wait to finish this book.
Nevernight has also been on my list this week, and I have been listening to this audiobook getting ready for work. This is a long audiobook, so I am going to be listening to it for a while! Annoyingly I lost a little bit of my progress (must have closed the app or something) so I had to make that up again, but it’s not the end of the world.
 

Books Discovered

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I posted about this on Instagram and Twitter yesterday, because I was so excited to receive this book mail! Season of Storms was published on the 22nd May and I am delighted to have been provided with a review copy! I really enjoyed reading The Last Wish last year – and I’ve played a little of the game franchise too! This beautiful hardback is going to be tempting me – I just know it!
 

Coming Up…

Quintessential QuotesOn Tuesday I am going to be sharing another Quintessential Quotes post, because I said I was going to write them more often. And I haven’t. Normally when I set these up I have an idea of a theme I’m going to base it on… but not this time! I’m basically going to decide when I write it.

This might be fun…

 
Diana ChristmasLater on next week I am going to be posting a review of Diana Christmas by F. R. Jameson; I was kindly requested to review this book by the author in exchange for an electronic copy. Diana Christmas is a screen siren, whom at the peak of her fame, disappears from the limelight. When our film journalist Michael meets her years later, the sinister truth starts to unravel as to why Diana disappeared.
I am also hoping to share an interview with the author about this book, so please stay tuned for that too!
Rebecca mono