Tag: historical fiction

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

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

Hi everybody!
Today I am pleased to be sharing with you my review of a book that has, quite frankly, been long overdue on the TBR pile. Whether others have seen the film or read the book, I feel very behind everyone else in catching up with this extraordinary tale.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Goodreads – The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Berlin 1942
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

I was gobsmacked to find this in the Children’s section of my library.
Were it not for knowing the subject matter, I wouldn’t have questioned it, but yeah. I was astounded, and perhaps a little ashamed that I hadn’t read it sooner. Who, in one breath, can proclaim to be a great lover of historical fiction… and in the next say that they haven’t read what is probably one of the most iconic works of that genre? Well, up until last month, that was me.
I cannot beg ignorance when it comes to the topic of the book, however. The Second World War is one of the prominent topics in the history lessons of my school days; in fact I highly doubt there is any British child that has never heard of the Holocaust. What makes The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas unique from the history lessons is that we “experience” the time through the eyes of an innocent, naïve child.
I’ve read a number of reviews criticising the book for a lack of historical accuracy and a lack of understanding about why Bruno would not recognise “The Fury” for who he is. Whilst I scoffed at the idea that this book was for children, in hindsight, it is more appropriate than I first considered. I think it is important to remember that this was probably written as an introduction to the topic, rather than an accurate account.
One of my favourite things about the book was that whilst suggestions were made about the atrocities we know happened at Auschwitz and other such camps, true understanding relies on better knowledge of the history. As this will come from either parents to children, or via school, the extent of understanding can be moderated for the age of the audience.
The book is also skilfully written, and it goes to show that books can be narrated from a juvenile perspective whilst not losing the quality of the narrative. Bruno’s sheltered lifestyle, his love of exploring and a desire to make friends make this young child a lovable character, despite some slight petulant behaviour.
This book was a quick read for me; in fact, I devoured it in two evenings. I also expected I would cry, but mercifully I didn’t. I had a vague idea about how the story would end, having watched about the first 40 minutes of the film in a history lesson once, so perhaps that steeled me against the ending of the book.
That’s not to say I would go on to watch the film, however. It is one thing to know of such atrocities and quite another to watch it play out in front of you, real or not.

Reading List: May 2018

It’s May.
There – I said it. As much as we all wish for Summer and the warmer climes associated with it (somewhere… far, far away from here perhaps), I just have to ask the question… where has the beginning of this year gone?
We are fast approaching the fairer months of the year (allegedly). Here at home, you can always tell when the preparations begin for the prestigious road races that take place here… patching up near-pristine roads etc. Meanwhile, other roads not on the course are sorely neglected to the point in which they have more craters than the moon.
Ahem. Not that I’m bitter or anything… and that is not what this post is about! Today, I am publishing my reading list for the month of May… so let’s get stuck in!
 

Empire of Silence

Empire of Silence GR

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his war.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives–even the Emperor himself–against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.

Normally, I don’t include books that I end up carrying over from the previous month. Finishing these books should maybe take a day or two, so I usually chastise myself for frittering away time and struggle on to cram those extra pages in to another, normal month of reading.
I don’t think it’s fair to do this to myself this month, on account of having over three hundred pages of this mammoth book left! As much as I love reading, I don’t have a death wish. I know my limit and I am unlikely to finish this in the next day or so.
 

Eternity’s Echoes

Eternity's Echoes.jpg

Aaron was a promising software designer with an upcoming company. He shared a quaint house on the outskirts of town with his best friends; another young man and two girls.
They’d known each other since school, and lived together peacefully for years with few problems.
Travis the newcomer however had a dark way about him, and all of Aaron’s attempts to get along with him had failed.
But just as the household began to settle down again, a strange device with a peculiar attitude entered their lives.
Would it fulfill all of their dreams, or instead become a curse?

Judging by the synopsis, reading this book comes at a perfect time.
I was kindly approached by the author with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Whilst I enjoy science-fiction, I would say that out of all the genres I take the time to read, it is the one I pick up the least frequently. I worry that the technical knowledge (I distinctly lack) will intimidate me away from enjoying the narrative, but nine times out of ten this isn’t the case at all. It’s almost a bit of an irrational fear.
That being said, I have really enjoyed the Sci-fi books I have picked up in the last year, so I’ll be proud to add this to my collection!
 

Diana Christmas

Diana Christmas

In 1959, Diana Christmas – the beautiful, vivacious redhead – was a major star in Britain. It was her moment. She was on the cusp of making it big in Hollywood. Then, she simply walked away from the limelight. Vanished from an industry that adored her.
Twenty years later, Michael, a young film journalist, arrives at her suburban home and discovers the still vibrant and alluring Diana. Between her sheets, he hears for the first time the reason for her disappearance – a tale of coercion, shame and blackmail.
To his shock, he learns that those who destroyed her career and ruined her life still have their claws in her.
Totally smitten, he promises to help her. But Michael soon finds that the past doesn’t let go easily…
Diana Christmas – A new thriller of desire and betrayal from F.R. Jameson.

My third read of the month is also a review request, so a huge thanks to the author for a free electronic copy of this book to review.
The historical setting and promise of a tale portraying the less-than-glamorous side of fame is what attracted me to this book. If anything in the news over the last few months can be believed, then it would suggest that fame definitely comes with a price and abuse of power. Having not read the book thus far, I can’t truly compare the narrative to the stories we have heard ongoing… but there is enough of a correlation to have piqued my interest.
 

The Toymakers

The Toymakers.jpg

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…

I was delighted to have been accepted for this read from Netgalley. This is the first book I have actually been accepted for on the site, and it’s about time I read it. Who doesn’t love a tale of childlike magic in the midst of war to lighten your spirits?
 

The Irrationalist

The Irrationalist

An historical murder mystery based on real events.
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.

The synopsis for this book is incredibly long, but I think the first line sums up the book, and just why it is right up my street. An historical murder based on real-life events.
I have been provided with an e-copy of The Irrationalist by Open Books at my request, and I really can’t wait to get stuck in! I love historical fiction, I love political intrigue… and I love a good old whodunit. Check, check, and check.
So guys, those are my reads for this month! What are you reading?
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 22nd April 2018

Hi everybody! I hope you are all having a lovely weekend, whatever it is you are doing.
Without looking at any of the stats or details, I have a gut feeling that I didn’t make much progress with my reading this week. Things just got in the way, and when I did have time I didn’t feel all that inclined to read. It’s a real shame, because I am reading some great books at the moment!
It’s not you, fantastic pieces of literature, it’s me…
Rather than reflect on what I haven’t done this week, let’s take a look at what I have done instead! On Wednesday I posted my review of Ekata: Fall of Darkness by Dominique Law, which admittedly, was less than complimentary of my experience reading the book. I had some nice feedback from that review actually – it’s hard to write reviews about things you don’t like for fear of crossing the line, but so far the review has been well received. In one day it received as many likes as other posts have over time.
The following day I posted Top 5 Quotes from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld… so far! I’ve read a number of books from the collection now, so it was a lovely way to re-cap through some of the older books. Picking favourites out turned out to be a lot harder than I expected!
 

Books Read (or procrastinated over…)


 
I made a bit more progress with The Seventh Scroll this week, but I find it’s a book I cannot binge read. Some parts are great and others can be on the slow side, which results in me picking the book up and putting it down again a lot. It’s also quite a lengthy one at just over 600 pages, so I don’t think I should beat myself up too much. I’m now just over a quarter of the way through the book. Truthfully, I hope the story picks up a bit soon. It’s not that I am not enjoying it, it’s the flow and consistency that isn’t there for me at the moment.
Knowing that there were times I wanted a break from The Seventh Scroll, I started reading Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio. I have taken to reading a chapter or two before going to bed at the very least, and I spent an hour or so reading yesterday. I’m currently 16% through the book; whilst that doesn’t sound much, that equates to 128 pages. This is also a mammoth book!
The one piece of good news is that I finished listening to The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris this week. I found myself so immersed in the story that until I got to the author’s note at the end, and the brief chapter written by the MC’s son, I had forgotten this is based on two real people’s experience of the camp! It’s a harrowing thought, the reminder that people were forced to live this way and suffer the way they did.

Books Discovered

A Brief History of Time.jpg
This isn’t usually the type of book I would attempt to read; whilst I like science-fiction, I’m not actually all that clued-up on the science. After his recent death, I decided that I had to at least try to read this book! All I have heard is positive things about his genius and wit, so I’ve finally added it to the list.
 

Coming Up…

Scheduling this week is going to be a little bit different! Normally I bring you a review on a Wednesday, but instead I am taking part in a Blog Tour for The Ghost of Glendale by Natalie Kleinman. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to review this book as part of the tour, but instead I’ll be bringing you the details so you can see for yourself what it is all about!
I will post my usual review on Thursday, and this week I am reviewing my first read of the month, Soul Music by Terry Pratchett.
I hope to see you around!
Rebecca mono

Reading List: April 2018

Appropriately, April showers is really living up to its name as I write this post today. Winter still has it’s clutches on us though, unsurprisingly! It’s sleeting, as well as raining.
Nice. A day to stay in and read, methinks! What a better day to write about my reading list for April?
I dedicated last month’s reading list to ARC’s (with the exception of my slip up reading Strange The Dreamer). That was because this month I wanted to mix it up again this time. In amongst the requests I have, I have a list longer than my arm of traditionally published books I want to read as well. This month is dedicated to those!
As I had a slip in March, I am allowing myself one exception, as I’ll explain below. So let’s jump right in!
 

Soul Music

Soul Music
Goodreads – Soul Music

Other children get given xylophones. Susan just had to ask her grandfather to take his vest off.
Yes. There’s a Death in the family.
It’s hard to grow up normally when Grandfather rides a white horse and wields a scythe – especially when you have to take over the family business, and everyone mistakes you for the Tooth Fairy.
And especially when you have to face the new and addictive music that has entered Discworld.
It’s lawless. It changes people.
It’s called Music With Rocks In.
It’s got a beat and you can dance to it, but…
It’s alive.
And it won’t fade away.

It feels like ages since I read any of Terry Pratchett’s books. I love the satire of them and how they all are loosely based within the same universe. This particular book is in the Death series of books, which is my second favourite storyline after the Witches.
It’s been seven months since I read the last Pratchett book. This one is long overdue!!
 

Seventh Scroll

The Seventh Scroll
Goodreads – The Seventh Scroll

For 4,000 years, the lavish crypt of the Pharaoh Mamose has never been found…until the Seventh Scroll, a cryptic message written by he slave Taita, gives beautiful Egyptologist Royan Al Simma a tantalizing clue to its location.
But this is a treasure cache others would kill to possess. Only one step ahead of assassins, Royan runs for her life and into the arms of the only man she can trust, Sir Nicholas Quenton-Harper–a daring man who will stake his fortune and his life to join her hunt for the king’s tomb. Together, they will embark on a breathtaking journey to the most exotic locale on earth, where the greatest mystery of ancient Egypt, a chilling danger and an explosive passion are waiting.
Steeped in ancient mystery, drama and action, The Seventh Scroll is a masterpiece from Wilbur Smith, a storyteller at the height of his powers.

It has also been a while since I started this series! I started it on the recommendation of a colleague, and whilst the main character and narrator from the first book REALLY got on my nerves, I enjoyed the book overall. I am assured this is the best book of the series and it is set thousands of years later.
I can’t wait!
 

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Goodreads – The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas

Berlin 1942
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

I am a complete wuss, so I think I am going to cry reading this.
It is a book I have really wanted to read for AGES, but never really had the courage to try. I know what I am like. I think I am going to struggle with it, but ultimately love it at the same time. I’m going to try and borrow this one from my library (it’ll be my first borrowed book in years!) but I suspect I’ll be buying my own copy for my bookshelves later.
 

Empire of Silence

Empire of Silence
Goodreads – Empire of Silence

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his war.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives–even the Emperor himself–against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.

Remember my exception to the rule? This technically is an ARC, but instead of reading ARC’s I have been requested to review, this is an ARC I requested from the publisher! I’m still shocked my request was accepted!
 

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone
Goodreads – Children of Blood & Bone

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

By the time I have caught up with current reads, popular books tend to have come and gone. I have seen this book again and again on social media and I love the synopsis! So, I am reading it now. Not in a years time, or two, when all the buzz has died down. Now. Because I can!
 
So those are my April reads!! Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are you reading this month?
Rebecca mono

Book Review: Copper Sky – Milana Marsenich

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

One hundred years on – the times have changed, as have our struggles… and nothing reminds us of that more than Copper Sky:-

Copper Sky

Goodreads – Copper Sky

The feminine spirit of the West comes alive in early twentieth century Montana.

Set in the Copper Camp of Butte, Montana in 1917, Copper Sky tells the story of two women with opposite lives. Kaly Shane, mired in prostitution, struggles to find a safe home for her unborn child, while Marika Lailich, a Slavic immigrant, dodges a pre-arranged marriage to become a doctor. As their paths cross, and they become unlikely friends, neither knows the family secret that ties them together.

 

Writing as somebody who has had the stability and privilege of 1st world background, this has naturally had some influence over the way in which I have interpreted the book. Some people may disagree with my comments, but please understand that I write them as generalisations only. In no way am I discrediting anybody else’s opinion or experience just because it is not a majority.

Comparing the lifestyle of these two women is a far cry from that expected and experienced by many others in modern day. That being said, we still have our modern day issues to contend with.

One of the topics Milana brings to the table, in a variety of ways, is the rights of women. This is still a hot topic today, albeit for different reasons. By way of example, one of our local topical debates at the moment is the issue of legalising abortion. My home town is the very place that allowed landowning women to vote from 1881 – some 37 years before the UK even introduced it, yet to get an abortion, women usually travel as they cannot be accessed here!

Anyway, that is a discussion for another time perhaps. The point is this; society has adapted within the past 100 years and thankfully our living and working conditions are not so harsh (for the most part).

Kaly, one of many prostitutes in Butte, has to battle with the reality that she is pregnant. The father, whom Kaly has known since childhood, wants to help her raise the child. Having had a difficult, parentless childhood herself, she faces inner turmoil, wondering what kind of life her child will ever have. Should she raise the child, (most likely into prostitution), or allow the child to be raised in an unsafe foster home? Those are not the only options either, but they are not pretty at all.

Marika has different troubles of her own. Does she respect her father’s wishes and marry the husband he has found for her, or pursue her dreams of training to be a doctor? Marika is a stubborn girl and I admire her mettle, as even in fighting into a profession she has longed to join since girlhood – it is very much a man’s world. Time and again she is not taken seriously, but she keeps trying all the same!

Copper Sky is based around real events and disasters within Butte, Montana. Mining disasters, fires and later civil unrest were frequent occurrences and as Milana correctly highlights – mining is a dangerous profession. Working conditions were less than ideal and many men lost their lives labouring in those mineshafts.

Despite the serious themes of the book, it is not without beauty. Gorgeous, vivid descriptions of the landscape and community reflect the author’s love of her hometown, and the depth of both Kaly’s and Marika’s perspective is absorbing. I was never in any doubt as to whose perspective the narrative was being relayed from due to the contrasting ideas and attitudes of the women.

Whereas Kaly, through hardship and experience has a perhaps pessimistic attitude to life (as can only be expected given everything she has gone through), Marika is youthful, hopeful and has an arguably more naïve innocence about her. Each character is complex; even though Kaly has little hope or stability for her child, she still moderates herself for the health of the baby so doesn’t dismiss having it outright. Marika, on the other hand, has a fiery temper and willfulness to be her own person and not be given by one man into the possession of another.

Living in a small community myself, I sense, relate to and love the community spirit that comes together anytime disaster strikes. When it comes to saving lives, all social and economic disparities are set aside, as they should be, in my humble opinion. The author has captured the soul and portrayed both sides of the double-sided coin of life in a way that broadens perspective. It is one thing to know what lengths people will go to and what motivates them, and quite another to experience it by seeing through their eyes.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 11th March 2018

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful women out there! I hope you have some lovely plans for today!
I’m off to spend the day with my mum a little later, but for now, here is how my week has gone in all things bookish!
So I kept things reasonably quiet in terms of blog posts as I knew I wanted to get a fair bit of reading done this week. For the first time ever I reviewed an audiobook, The Stand by Stephen King. I have really taken to audiobooks; they are so convenient to listen to if you are up and about doing other things… and that way you still get everything done and the benefit of “reading” at the same time! Win!
 

Books Read


 
I’m actually quite pleased at how much I have managed to read this week. Unfortunately, due to running over in finishing up my last February read, I am a little behind schedule and fingers crossed I can make that time up!
Living on A Rainbow was my last February read, which I finished on Monday. It covers a number of sensitive topics including mental illness, so be warned, but I have to say it is beautifully done. Not only that, watching the MC slowly decline only goes to show that it really can happen to anyone!
On Tuesday I began my March TBR in earnest, with Copper Sky by Milana Marsenich and again, what a beautiful book. It highlights the struggles of living in Butte, a mining town in Montana in 1917. Whilst it also includes the dangers men faced in working in such conditions they did and disasters experienced in the town, it predominantly focuses on the struggles of two women, Kaly and Marika. Kaly is a prostitute who finds herself pregnant and doubting the future of both her and her baby. Marika aspires to be a doctor and fights against her father and the arranged marriage he has planned for her. Without saying too much, I finished this book yesterday I really can’t wait to share my thoughts with you all about it!
I’ve also been listening to An Almond for a Parrot now for the past few weeks and it is so laugh out loud funny, I daren’t listen to it in public in fear of people thinking I am stark raving mad! It’s brilliant! It’s a little more risqué than I would normally “read”, but it is portrayed from a perspective of near innocence (which is funny, since our MC is a “lady of pleasure” to put it politely). You cannot help but laugh!
So, you may have noticed “Strange The Dreamer” up there and thought… what the? That’s not an ARC!! And you would be right – it isn’t. Yesterday, this book was really calling me. It’s been sat on my bookshelf for nearly a year and I keep picking it up, flicking through a few pages and then put it down again, vowing to read it next month. Or the month after. It hasn’t happened so far.
So yesterday, temptation got the better of me. I told myself if I had a productive day and finished reading Copper Sky I would read the first chapter. Naturally, this spurred me on, I got all my housework done and finished Copper Sky in the early evening. After a short break, I made myself a cup of tea and read the first chapter. Then the second, third, fourth… you get it. I ended up reading all of part one, which is about 80 pages worth.
 
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So yes, you could say that I fell off the bandwagon in a way. That being said, if I find a book that I love so wholeheartedly that I cannot put it down, I’m not going to deny myself that! That is what we readers look and secretly hope for.
I’m still going to be fulfilling my ARC reads, but no doubt I’ll be reading this on the side too. I will not wait until next month to pick it up again.. I can tell you that now!
 

Books Discovered


 
I’ve heard many a good thing about John Grisham’s writing, so when I saw this book discounted last Sunday, I knew had to try one of his books for myself!
Likewise with The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans, the murder mystery element of the book intrigued me, especially since it is set in London 1881, and historic fiction IS one of my favourite genres after all!
 

Coming Up…

This week, I am going to be reviewing my recent read of Living On A Rainbow by Calvin Wade. I touched above on how well the book tackles difficult themes, so if you are interested to know more, please stay tuned for my review on Wednesday!
Again, this week I am keeping it reasonably QT in the hopes of catching up with my reading, but the following week I will be sharing a number of different posts with you!
Keep reading!
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 7th January 2018

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!
New Year celebrations are officially over and we are back to the daily grind. That isn’t such a bad thing though – at least for me anyway. Getting back into a normal routine is what I like, and I have a review to catch up with on here so I should have time to do it. The thought that the next bank holiday is Easter is somewhat depressing though!!
 

Books Read


This week I made a good, healthy start on some of the requests I received this month. I have read Snobbity Snowman by Maria Bardyukova & Quiet Riley, a children’s winter-themed tale. After that, I picked up The Fall by Steve Campitelli and so far I have read 26% of the book.
The Stand
I’ve also made further progress on Audible with The Stand by Stephen King. Why have I not tried audiobooks before?! They are so handy to listen to when you are busy doing other things and can’t physically pick up a book.
 

Books Discovered


From reviews I have seen, written by fellow bloggers, I have added the above two books to the TBR. If you want to read those review posts, you can find them here and here.
 
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I also downloaded another book, as it was recommended to me by email from Bookbub and was free for the day. A King Ensnared is a  historical fiction book based on the trials and turmoil experienced by the James Stewart in 1406, heir to the Scottish throne.
 

Coming Up…

On Wednesday I want to share a review of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It was my last read of 2017 and it was absolutely sensational… I can’t wait to tell you why!
As usual I’ll wrap up the week with a Sunday Summary, and hopefully next week I’ll have some news for you in terms of reviewing some of the requests I have been reading.
Until Wednesday, ciao for now!!
Rebecca mono
 

Review: Making History – Stephen Fry

How would the course of history have changed if Adolf Hitler had never been born?

When I started this book I didn’t really know what to expect. I added it to the TBR last minute on recommendation alone. A work colleague of mine who writes short news articles, which are published weekly in a local newspaper also takes a bit of an interest in my blog. It’s nice to get some local feedback on what I am reading and the things I discuss on here. It was this work colleague that recommended Making History to me, following my review of Extracted by R R Haywood.

Prior to this book, I had never read anything written by Stephen Fry, so I went into this book with very little knowledge of what I was going to get out of it.

Making History
GoodReads – Making History

In Making History, Stephen Fry has bitten off a rather meaty chunk by tackling an at first deceptively simple premise: What if Hitler had never been born? An unquestionable improvement, one would reason–and so an earnest history grad student and an aging German physicist idealistically undertake to bring this about by preventing Adolf’s conception. And with their success is launched a brave new world that is in some ways better than ours–but in most ways even worse. Fry’s experiment in history makes for his most ambitious novel yet, and his most affecting. His first book to be set mostly in America, it is a thriller with a funny streak, a futuristic fantasy based on one of mankind’s darkest realities. It is, in every sense, a story of our times.

 

My Thoughts…

Cambridge history graduate Michael Young and physicist Leo Zuckermann come together, quite by accident, when Michael’s thesis falls out of his briefcase and is scattered into the wind. Michael has studied the early life of one of the most famously horrific and anti-semitic figures in our history, Adolf Hitler. Despite the thesis not being his speciality, Leo takes a personal interest and requests to read a copy. Michael later discovers just why Leo has such an interest in Michael’s study and together they undertake a project in the hope of re-writing history, for the better. The narrative flits seamlessly between the present day and fictional scenes based on true events during both “halves” of the book – both realities are explored in the same way.

It was the explored concept of time travel that prompted Mark’s recommendation of the book to me. In particular, we talked about what is known as the grandfather paradox… to keep it simple – if you travelled back in time and killed your grandfather before your parents were born, you could never have existed to kill your grandfather. It boggles the mind to think too hard about it, so unless that’s really a subject of interest to you, I wouldn’t think any further than the general concept too much.

Michael Young and Leo Zuckermann, with the use of a machine built by Zuckermann,  succeed in ensuring Adolf Hitler was never born – but their actions have disastrous consequences. Can they restore the course of history to its former self? Michael wakes up in this new alternate reality as a student studying Philosophy in Princeton, New Jersey. He has a full recollection of his life before the experiment and little recollection of the life he SHOULD now be living. With vague memories of being out drinking with friends and banging his head the night before, Michael, who now goes by Mikey struggles with his “amnesia” and eventually comes to terms with his new life and the consequences of his and Leo’s experiment.

The book suggests that people (both individually and as groups), despite various circumstances, have certain in-built reactions or behaviours – for example, in both versions of history – Leo Zuckermann invents the time machine in response to feelings of guilt over his ties in what happens during this dark period of history. In our alternate version of history, the unchanged socio-economic circumstances Germany experiences and the unchanged general public opinion is offered by way of explanation as to why history does not change radically in the way Michael and Leo had hoped.

As much as this book is based on a turbulent and sensitive part of our history, it was still a fun and enjoyable read. I loved history at school so I fell in love with this book pretty much straight away. Anyone who isn’t so interested would probably not enjoy this book as much as I did, being perfectly honest… but you never know!! Michael is a lovable character, despite his flaws. I actually find him quite relatable. Even though he is graduating from Cambridge, he is still a bit of an idiot so the reader doesn’t feel either patronised or alienated from the narrative.
One of my favourite elements of the book is that it both discusses and challenges our current history, yet in a fictional and humorous way. Even though historical and philosophical messages can be interpreted from the narrative, it also succeeds in being an entertaining read.

At 575 pages I wouldn’t suggest this was a light read, but to my mind, it’s an absolutely worthwhile one. Thank you for the recommendation Mark – this is high up on the list of  favourite reads this year!
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Sunday Summary

Sundays come around far too quickly and today is no exception! The only bonus is that tomorrow is a bank holiday here (yay!)
The Sunday Summary is a post I am going to be submitting weekly from now on to let you guys know how I am getting on, what I have been reading throughout the week, tell you about books I have discovered and added to the never ending TBR pile and lastly,  what to expect coming up in the following week.
 

Books I have Read

Following on from last Sunday I finished Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory on Monday night; the review for this book I posted on Friday and can be found here. If anyone is interested in historical fiction I would highly recommend reading this book, as it gives background to the beginnings of the Wars of the Roses without too much nitty gritty detail.
On Tuesday I began reading Extracted by R R Haywood, a science fiction book based on the concept of time travel. I haven’t read any science fiction for a while so this made a refreshing change! I am yet to post the review for this book, but it will be coming your way on Tuesday so keep your eyes out for that if you would like to hear my thoughts.
As well as finishing Extracted on Friday night I also started reading the eagerly anticipated Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I can happily hold my hands up and say I have never read anything in the realms of the horror genre before and so far, being approximately half way through the book I am not disappointed. With Stephen King as the author I didn’t think I would be, but you can never be sure until you try. The review for this book will also be published in the near future and I hope you can check it out.
 

Discovered Books

I have added a lot of books to the TBR pile this week. It’s no wonder I don’t stand a chance of ever seeing the pile in a manageable state (and preferably less than 100 books – next joke!).
This week is quite rare in that I have acquired a number of physical books. The majority of books I purchase are on kindle due to cost and convenience of being able to carry them everywhere I go, but this week I have three books added to the bookshelf in my hallway. They are:-

  1. Eagles in the Storm – Ban Kane
  2. Kill the Father – Sandrone Dazieri
  3. The Good Life – Martina Cole


I always love a book bargain when I can get one. Eagles in the Storm and Kill the Father were purchased in my local supermarket at two for £7 – which is a really good offer bearing in mind you could easily spend this on one book alone!
The best bargain of the week has to be Martina Cole’s The Good Life. My sister is a customer of a UK mobile network that allows customers to buy the book they have on offer every week for £1… yes you read that right! She lets me know what the book is every week and if I’m interested she will get it for me. As it happens, she is visiting this weekend so I managed to get this book quickly.
I have also downloaded two books for my kindle this week, including:-

  1. Mayflowers for November: The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn – Malyn Bromfield
  2. The Elizabethan World – Lacey Baldwin Smith


 
You can tell I’m being a bit of a history geek lately but I’m excited all the same!
 

Coming Up…

I figured as well as telling you what I have been doing, it would be nice for you all to know what will be coming up on my blog next week.
As mentioned above, Tuesday’s post will be a review of Extracted by R R Haywood. I always try to avoid spoilers, so if anyone is concerned about that please be assured I try my hardest not to give anything away.
Friday brings to us the start of a new month so I will be publishing my reading list. This month I was too ambitious in adding six books to the list, but as it happens I had to add one to the DNF pile (hopefully only temporarily). Next month I have only added five books to the list to read but if I get ahead of myself and manage to squeeze in another, I’ll keep you posted.
Lastly I will be posting again next Sunday with another weekly update! Until then, I hope to see you around
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