Tag: netgalley

Reading List: December 2018

When I look back on last month’s approach to reading – only setting a couple of books to read, it is with mixed feelings.

I set myself the task of re-reading A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin and getting around to my last NetGalley ARC, The Mansions of Murder by Paul Doherty. Re-reading A Game of Thrones is no mean feat – it is over 850 pages in its own right! However, I didn’t finish reading any others. I am also 60% through I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson, which is good. I wouldn’t describe this book as “my genre”, but it’s good to try something new. In addition to these two books, I also struggled through half of Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski before setting it aside. For now, at least.

I think my reading (or lack thereof) was a result of “unfortunate events” – combine trying to read one epic book along with another that is completely not your genre at all. Add to that a book you REALLY want to love and can’t really bear to DNF (but have to) and it all ends up a pretty toxic mix. I was also away for a few days, so that knocks out the schedule too.

 

That said, it’s only the 6th December and I have read Facing A Twisted Judgment by K. J. McGillick and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury already.

Perhaps I needed the break… or the start of a new month to breathe in some fresh air and start again. I’m not ready to write off the more relaxed approach yet. I just need to find the middle ground, is all. So, which books are going to make it onto the list for December?

 

The Road to Alexander – Jennifer Macaire

I am looking forward to reading this book in advance of the blog tour next month! The novel is based around time travel, with influences of Greek mythology. I’m not all that versed in Greek mythology I must admit, so I want to see how much influence it has in this book and whether it inspires me to read on further. The synopsis of the book makes it sound like a hilarious read too!

 

Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares – Shaun Hume

When I started my blog early last year, Shaun Hume was the first author to contact me for a review. Well, now he is back! The second book of the Ewan Pendle series has been released and he has asked if I will review the book for him. Obviously, the answer was yes! Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith is a refreshing read in a genre that I really enjoy. Now I get to find out the next step in his adventures!

 

The Cathedral of Known Things – Edward Cox

I fell in love with the fantasy world the Relic Guild series is based in earlier this year. I received copies of the series by Gollancz in exchange for a review and it’s time to delve into book 2. The storyline is intricate and detailed (without being too complicated) and the characters are adorable. I knew when I finished this book that I wouldn’t be able to wait for too long until picking up the next one.

 

So, those are just some of the books I am planning on reading this month! What is on your reading list?

Book Review Banner

Book Review: The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

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

The Toymakers

Goodreads – The Toymakers

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

 

In Summary…

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

Reading List - July 2018

Reading List – July 2018

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

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

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

Goodreads – Death in Dulwich

Goodreads – The Girl in the Gallery

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

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

A Darker Shade of Magic

Goodreads – A Darker Shade of Magic

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

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

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone

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

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

The Mansions of Murder

Mansions of Murder

Goodreads – The Mansions of Murder

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

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

The Eye of the World

the eye of the world

Goodreads – The Eye of the World

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

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

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

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

Which books are you picking up this July?

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

Five Reasons I Don't Rate Netgalley

I think pretty much all book bloggers have or will dabble with the offerings of sites such as Netgalley, Edelweiss or Bookbridgr at some point. I mean, what’s not to love about free books, right?
Well.
I see other bloggers hugely enthusiastic about the site… usually talking about how they have downloaded FAR too many books to keep up out of sheer excitement over the privilege. I never quite understood that because I didn’t really do it. I regret to say that I have never felt the same enthusiasm over the site; today’s post is all about telling you why.
 

Time Pressure

Book bloggers inevitably have to read A LOT in order to keep content on their sites… and let’s face it – there is practically an infinite choice out there! I remember hearing a ridiculous fact about how long it would take you to read all the free books available for download via Amazon. It was years… decades, even! Decades of continuous reading, and those books barely scratch the surface on the number out there available.
Inevitably, reading takes time. At the moment my average reading speed is about 4.5 books a month, which isn’t the most I could do… but hey, I don’t have a death wish. Bearing in mind I work 35 hours a week and have a little of a social life on the side, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for reading and writing. I already put a lot of pressure on myself to keep up the schedule I do… and I feel extra pressure by Netgalley and it’s rating system to review ASAP. As soon as you are accepted for a book, your rating drops… and the “recommended” rating needs to be quite high to stand a chance of acceptance for new, popular books.
 

Mediocre Site

If I’m completely honest, I just don’t think the site is all that great.
In the time I have been using it, there have been no changes, no updates… just the same, uninteresting userface since day one. What also surprises me is that there isn’t an app. Whilst compulsive downloaders may think this a blessing in disguise… I think an app would make using the service far more convenient. I’d be more likely to take note of what is available if it were presented in a more approachable, on-the-go format.
 

Rating

Am I a bad book blogger because I don’t reach the 80% recommended rating? No, I’m not.
Referring back to my first point, I read a lot of different books; some I have bought, others I have been gifted or provided with a copy in exchange for a review by authors/publishers directly. Some are even borrowed, the old fashioned way, from a library. Should I be punished for being a diverse reader and having multiple sources of books? I don’t think so, and yet I feel in order to gain a respectful rating and backing as a Netgalley reader, I’d have to read their books alone for months.
MONTHS!!!!
 

Badges

Badges look cute, sure, but do they serve much of a purpose? Again, am I a bad blogger because I haven’t earned many? I don’t think so.
From what I have seen, the vast majority of badges are awarded for quantity as opposed to quality. I suppose it’s a great tool for authors to identify that a blogger is active and reliable… but I think the best way for a blogger to sell themselves is via the content they publish on their own site.
 

Book Offering

Lastly, and most importantly, I just haven’t been enamoured by the books I have downloaded and read so far.
I know publishers do release review copies of both new and popular titles via Netgalley, but with my profile being as small and limited as it is, a request for these books would probably have me laughed out of the door.
Given the relationships I have established with publishers directly, by providing links to my blog alongside requests, I think I would have far more of a chance of obtaining review copies of titles without using a service like Netgalley at all.
 


 
If you love and use Netgalley all the time, then hats off to you. I hope you continue to enjoy the free books on offer.
I have two books left to read and review; both of which are scheduled soon. Writing this post and mulling over the reasons I don’t like the site has convinced me to close my account once I have reviewed the books I have outstanding.
If I have the means to enjoy reading in other forms, then why would I not allow other readers the chance to use the service and enjoy a hobby when they may not have the resources I do. I would much rather lend the opportunity to someone else when I don’t enjoy it at all.
Am I being unduly unfair? Do you use sites like Netgalley? What are your thoughts?
Rebecca mono
 

Book Review – Ekata: Fall of Darkness – Dominique Law

*** I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are completely my own***

Ekata

Goodreads – Ekata: Fall of Darkness

On Ekata, a utopian world where violence is unthinkable, Asher has been plagued with visions of death and darkness since childhood. On his eighteenth birthday he is confronted with a life-changing prophecy which tells of a threat not only to his world, but to Earth as well.

Alexis has always felt she doesn’t belong. When an extraordinary stranger appears on her doorstep, it raises more questions than answers. If everything she thought she knew about herself was a lie, who is the real Alexis? And how could she possibly be part of an ancient prophecy?

Through startling transformation and grief, the pair defy all expectations. But when everything changes, can Asher’s humanity survive? The fate of both worlds may depend upon it.

 

I don’t think there is any way I can particularly dress up this review. I am, after all, in the business of being honest so I’ll just come out with it.

Overall, I didn’t like this book at all. I’ll start with what redeeming qualities the book did have, which brought my rating of the book up from a 1 star to a 2 star review.

I liked the concept of the world of Ekata – a world without violence. The main point of conflict within the story is a man’s desire to prevent violence on Earth… but to do so he would remove the free-will of all people. I like how the morality of such an action is called into question and how this drives the resistance party.

The tale was also well written; even if I didn’t think all that much of the content of the story all the time, what was on the page was outlined clearly so that the story was easy to follow. This also proved useful because I found myself picking it up and putting it down quite regularly, but I wasn’t hindered by this at all. I also quite enjoyed the descriptions of nature and the world-building.

Inevitably, we were going to get to the parts I didn’t like… fairly quickly, unfortunately.

This book features so many unoriginal fantasy tropes that it is not even funny. I feel like I talk about this a lot, but is it too much to ask for a little originality? This book has the classic Good vs Evil, the inexperienced young one(s) exploring their Coming of Age to face-off against the veteran… and a quest to fulfil a prophecy in order to achieve all this, tied in a neat little package with a double bow. Oh, and there’s a host of magic and a unicorn to boot! Hooray!
To say I didn’t know that some of these elements were going to play a part would be a lie; I knew it was a prophesised ‘coming-of-age’ type tale. For me though, the straw that broke the camel’ back was the budding relationship between our two MC’s.

Now, I’m a girl and I’ve been a teenager, I know how all this raging-hormone stuff works. You break out in a ridiculous amount of spots (always on the worst day imaginable) and have more mood swings than hot dinners. I can hand on heart say that if a complete stranger arrived on my doorstep, turned my world on its head and was claiming that the fate of another world rested on my shoulders, I would slam the door, bolt it and call the police I would not even remotely consider how attractive he was. Call me frigid, soulless, or even a liar if you like, but I wouldn’t… given that this is pretty much the first thought that pops into our second MC’s head from the moment we meet her, I didn’t like or relate to Alexis at all.

Unfortunately, whilst a lot of the personality traits Alexis shows in the book are indeed present in young, angsty teenage girls, the only depth of character to this tempest of emotion is a love of horses… and there is just something about girls that love horses that just smacks of “spoilt brat”. There is a quote by Terry Pratchett that I aptly read only recently, which I think sums up the whole situation entirely:-

“There is a type of girl who, while incapable of cleaning her bedroom even at knife point, will fight for the privilege of being allowed to spend the day shovelling manure in a stable.”
-Terry Pratchett, Soul Music

Asher was more tolerable than Alexis, although nothing particularly grabbed me about his personality either. I wanted to read his chapter POV’s instead of Alexis’ because I didn’t hate his, not because I was looking forward to them.

My final bugbear about the book is, as chronology would suggest, the ending. Given the whole prophecy and the weight resting on Asher and Alexis’ shoulders, you would expect something to happen, right? It has so obviously been set up for a sequel, but it felt like I endured 400 pages for nothing of consequence to happen. I was left sorely disappointed.

So, ladies and gentlemen, to summarise – if you like reading about moody, insecure and overly-hormonal teenagers, spending every free moment not training to save the world fawning over each other, then this book is definitely for you! I have no problem with negative emotions in books, if it is written well and you are truly immersed with the character. If, however, you find yourself carrying their emotional baggage like an albatross around your neck, or find them just plain bad company like the last party guest that just won’t leave, it makes for very difficult reading.

This book was not my cup of tea at all, which is a shame.
Rebecca mono

Reading List: March 2018 – aka March of the Arcs!

I cannot believe it is March already!!
Spring is just around the corner, although if the weather is anything to go by you wouldn’t know it!! In an ideal world, it would be the kind of weather to stay at home in and snuggle up with a book – wouldn’t you agree?!
Unfortunately, living in your own Fantasy world doesn’t pay the bills, so I have to dig out every single pair of gloves I own and wear them simultaneously to venture into the frozen wastes to earn my keep *sigh*
We all have to have something to look forward to when the day is done though. I’ve spoken recently about the mini reading slump I have found myself in lately, and I have been trying to come up with some ideas for how to beat it. I have decided a change of routine is probably a good start, so I came up with an idea called March of the Arcs! I have a few (plenty of) arc’s due for review, so not only is this the change of routine I think I need, I hope the boost to my rating on Netgalley should also lift my spirits!! Fingers crossed I’ll also get introduced to some lovely new books too!
 
Copper Sky
Copper Sky
I was kindly asked to review this title by the author, who had seen a couple of my other reviews for OpenBooks… so thanks for asking me! So far I have read the first chapter and  I can’t wait to get stuck in to the rest!
 
StoneKing
StoneKing
Finally I get to read the much anticipated third book of this series!! I have been DEVOURING the previous books in order to catch up and participate in the current blog tour. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all on the 19th March!
 
Beowulf
Beowulf
I think this was one of my first downloads from Netgalley and I really want to give it a try. Admittedly, it isn’t the sort of book I would read normally – poetry isn’t really my bag, but since it is such an iconic piece of literature I feel I have to have a go! If nothing else, I am sticking to the brief of trying something new and breaking routine!
 
Ekata: Fall of Darkness
Ekata
This is also a Netgalley download that I have sat on for a few months and really need to read. It’s a kind of dystopian fantasy, as I recall… and both of these are genres I enjoy.
 
The Mansions of Murder
Mansions of Murder
This is my most recent Netgalley “Read Now” download, and it’s a historical fiction/murder mystery. I can’t say I have read anything like it before and I hope, if I enjoy it, I’ll be picking up more books in the genre. I am currently toying with the idea of trying Agatha Christie’s works, so this is my way of dipping my toes into the water, so to speak.
 
I hope you don’t mind that this list isn’t particularly detailed – it’s been a busy week for me here. If you have any questions or want to know more, please drop me a comment below!
For now though, have a wonderful Friday and a lovely weekend!!
Rebecca mono

Book Review: Former.ly – Dane Cobain

Hi everyone!!

Today, I am getting around to a task that I have should have done months and months and months ago.

I can see why Netgalley becomes addictive and you end up getting behind on reviews. I have only downloaded a few books, but the problem is that there are so many great books out there… prioritising your reading and putting these to the bottom of the list can give you a bad rating…

Not that I know anything about that….. *whistles tunelessly*

SO! In case you hadn’t gathered – I received a copy of this book, for free, from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.

Former.ly
Published 11 June 2016 by
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Goodreads – Former.ly

When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.

But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.

I think there is a part of that blurb that is misleading – “Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences”. Having read the book – I have absolutely no idea what this is supposed to refer to. Can someone please enlighten me? I can’t recall anything “shocking” published on the site.

Former.ly is a social network designed for users to prepare memorials for after they are gone. Beginning in a small, grubby house and gradually growing into a state-of-the-art office with full security complement, the Company seems to be going from strength to strength, but what is driving this Company forward?

The narrative within the book itself is well presented and there is enough mystery throughout to keep the reader gripped. When Dan starts at the Company, he knows very little about the work he is contributing to; he knows he is working out bugs in code, but not what it does. Other members of staff come and go and as Dan becomes more experienced, he is able to dig deeper using the trust he has gained. The pace at which the story unfolds is good, which helps the story to flow.

If I am completely honest, I didn’t really understand Dan’s motivation to stay with the Company at all. Not only is he working such crazy hours that it affects his relationship, but his employers are also really shifty and mistrusting all the time! I know if that was me, I wouldn’t sit well with it. There are other characters that feel the same way I do, but I struggled to sympathise with Dan for one simple reason – he had plenty of warning signs to get out of that situation sooner. Sure, maybe he did want to get to the bottom of what was going on, but I just couldn’t put myself in his shoes. That’s an entirely personal thing – not a fault of the character himself.

Overall, I rated the book three stars, as whilst the writing and the plot was good, I struggled to relate to the characters telling the story. I also didn’t feel that much depth with characters other than the MC either, which I would have expected since Dan et al spend almost all of the time in the office (yes, anti-social hours and weekends too)!
It was an acceptable read, even if there were parts that weren’t entirely to my liking.
Rebecca mono