Happy Friday everyone and welcome to my First Lines Friday post! I love writing these and either sampling the beginnings of books still to be read or re-reading old ones! Today’s featured book is one that is currently on my TBR, or to be read list. Given the science-fiction theme I have been sticking to lately, I figured to share the opening lines of another book from the same genre!
Can you guess what it is?
I love Thursday nights. They have a feel to them that’s outside of time.
It’s our tradition, just the three of us – family night.
My son, Charlie, is sitting at the table, drawing on a sketch pad. He’s almost fifteen. The kid grew two inches over summer, and he’s as tall as I am now.
I turn away from the onion I’m julienning, ask, “Can I see?”
He holds up the pad, shows me a mountain range that looks like something on another planet.
I say, “Love that. Just for fun?”
“Class project. Due tomorrow.”
“Then get back to it, Mr Last Minute.”
Standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I’m unaware that tonight is the end of all of this. The end of everything I know, everything I love.
Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.
It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.
When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”
Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.
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Hello spooky friends! It’s time to share this month’s reading list – and it’s a bumper one! I am going on holiday with my lovely sister a little later this month and I’m crossing my fingers for lovely sunshine and some R&R – reading and relaxation time!
A combination of blog tours and a few reads of my own choice to check off the list make for a busy month. In order to keep up with this list, I am looking at having to read an average of 59 pages a day. Combine this with taking part in Blogtober, and you’ll see that I don’t like to make my life easy!
It’s a good job I like a challenge right? Are you ready to check out the books on this month’s TBR?
Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles – Paul Twivy
This magical story is inspired by the most haunting and least explored country in the world – Namibia – with its foggy Skeleton Coast, buried goldmines, shocking secrets and awe-inspiring sand dunes.
Spread across the face of its deserts are hundreds of miles of ‘fairy circles’ : vast enough to be seen from space. They grow and die with the same lifespan as humans, yet no-one has been able to explain why or how they appear.
Then one day, three teenagers and their families arrive from different parts of the globe. Helped by bushmen, the buried possessions of a Victorian explorer, and a golden leopard, they solve the mystery of the African Circles. What will be discovered beneath the hallowed ground? And how will it change the future of the planet above it?
My blog tour post isn’t until the end of the month, but I am prioritising reading these books first.
The synopsis is both unusual and intriguing for this book; it’s what drew my attention to it. The blog tour has been extended too, so it has grabbed a lot of bloggers attention. The book also has some sci-fi elements to it, so I can’t wait to see how this ties into the book!
To Snare a Witch: Book 1 – Bell, Book and Candle – Jay Raven
A chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge.
No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.
But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe. What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust at any cost and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.
And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…
I am reading this novella for a blog tour as well, one day after Hallowed Ground. The end of the month is packed with reviews – four in four days!
At 85 pages, this one is comparatively short so I can probably read it in one sitting. I really enjoyed reading Game of Crones, also by Jay Raven earlier this year. The writing style of Game of Crones suited me really well and I devoured it quickly. I trust I will be able to read To Snare a Witch in good time too.
If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?
When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House.
Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves.
Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?
I have the pleasure of reviewing this mystical, arcane novel on none other than Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa here). It feels very appropriate to be reading books with spooky and sinister goings-on this month. How could I refuse this blog tour spot?
RAVAGED BY WAR …AD 71. After the battle at Whorl, Brennus of Garrigill is irrevocably changed. Returning to Marske, Ineda finds her grandmother dead, though Brennus is not. Snared by a Roman patrol, they are marched to Witton where he is forced to labour for the Roman IX Legion. Embracing his new identity as Bran, Brennus vows to avert Roman occupation of northernmost Brigantia. Ineda becomes his doughty spying accomplice, though sometimes she’s too impetuous. Trading with the Romans lends excellent opportunities for information gathering. Over time, Bran’s feelings for Ineda mar with his loyalty to Ineda’s father. When she disappears, and cannot be found, Bran enters direct service with Venutius, King of the Brigantes.
If I want a rest after Blogtober then I have to go a few days longer before I can get it! After Whorl Bran Reborn is my last blog tour read of the month, with a tour date of 1st November. I recently read the first book in the series, The Beltane Choice. I enjoyed reading about a completely new period in British history. This book picks up after the events of the first book and I cannot wait to see how the story progresses.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
I first took an interest in Greek Mythology earlier this year, reading Mythos by Stephen Fry. There are a lot of good reviews of Circe, and it won a Goodreads Choice award last year. I bought a physical copy of the book earlier this year and I am taking this on holiday with me. Given the choice, I like a mix of e-books and physical ones – it’s not so large that it’ll compromise my luggage space.
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
I bought my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone at the same time as Circe. Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer duology was absolutely fantastic! I wouldn’t describe myself as a champion of YA literature; I don’t read all that much of it, but I adored these! Based on my love of those, it was a no-brainer decision to try her other books. This also isn’t too large, so it’s coming away with me!
We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.
Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.
At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.
Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.
Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.
I won a Netgalley download of Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. Given the nature of the book, it’s appropriate to wrap up with this book for Hop Tu Naa. Doesn’t it sound really creepy?! It reminds me a little of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary with the whole small town and sinister forest vibe. I loved that book. I wonder how it will compare.
So, seven books… I think that’s got to be one of the longest reading lists I have set for myself. Have you read any of these books? What spooky reads are you reading this autumn?
Good morning everyone! Today brings my second blog tour post of the month and I am pleased to feature Psychotopia by R. N. Morris. The tour has been organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources; I’ve been provided with a copy of the e-book for the purposes of giving an honest review. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts, but first, here is a little about the book: –
A game for the times we live – and die – in. Enter Psychotopia, a dark new dystopian novel from the author of the acclaimed Silas Quinn mysteries.
PSYCHOTOPIA, LEVEL ONE. Create your own boutique psychopath, then deceive, manipulate and be ruthless, spreading mayhem and destruction to reach the next levels.
It’s the computer game for our times. After all, the amount of crazy in the world is increasing. Senseless violence on the streets is becoming the norm. Can Dr Arbus’s ground-breaking device identify and neutralize psychopaths before it’s too late? In this increasingly dysfunctional world, surely Callum standing by Aimee after her devastating encounter with Charlie is proof that real love and goodness can still win in a world that’s increasingly rotten . . . Or can it?
Psychotopia is a work of speculative fiction in which society is filled with psychopaths. The narrative follows select individuals, some psychopathic and some not. Through their lives, we experience the indefinite change in society from our own and consider the consequences.
The perspective that has the most influence on my interpretation of the book is the police officer, Rick. His contributions to the book are primarily retrospective to the main storyline. As he also opens and closes the book with his thoughts on all that has happened. Consequently, the story feels less like the action-packed novel the synopsis indicates it will be and rather more philosophical. It’s not a criticism because I still enjoyed the book and the overall story. It is just told a little differently!
One of the philosophical elements I drew from the book is the influence of games on people’s minds. Can one person’s vision become media that alters another’s perspective? There are numerous debates about possible links between video games and violence. Nothing has been proven though. When a creeper blew up my ground-level spider spawner, I was pretty damn bitter. It was only 50 or so blocks away from base as well! I didn’t get violent as a result though. I have to think Minecraft isn’t quite in the league of Psychotopia, for my own sanity’s sake…
Still, having access to viewing and instigating negative behaviour in games may alter perspective over time. It’s a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” argument really, but I think about stuff like that. I’m an excellent debater… (at least in my own head).
Unusually, I found that chapters with different characters are written in different persons. I thought it an inconsistency at first, but it is done quite deliberately. I also enjoyed the nuance of chapters about the game development being issued as ‘circulars’. It serves well to break up the narrative and add some informal, conversational (and twisted) ideas into play.
Author Bio –
R. N. Morris is the author of ten novels. The latest is PSYCHOTOPIA, published 31 October, 2018.
A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award (as the CWA Gold Dagger was briefly known). A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger.
Giveaway – Win 1 x Signed Hardback Copy of Pyschotopia (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Today marks the first stop on the blog tour for Life, and Other Dreams by Richard Dee. The tour has been organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and I am delighted to be taking part! I’ve been provided with a copy of the e-book for the purposes of giving an honest review. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts, but first, here is a little about the book: –
Rick lives here on Earth now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly.
In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live six-hundred years in the future, half a galaxy away. They’re explorers, searching for valuable minerals on Ecias, an alien paradise.
Dan has no dreams about Rick’s life, he lives on Ecias, loves his life and Vanessa.
When the two worlds overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up. Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Cath thinks that Rick’s dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.
Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, in two times, at once? If not, then which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?
Richard Dee’s fast-paced, edgy science fiction -cum- psychological thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page!
Life and Other Dreams is an extremely approachable sci-fi psychological thriller. I would never have expected the two genres to gel as well as they do. I enjoy sci-fi books, but I confess it is the genre (of those that I “do read”) that I pick up the least. By no means am I a science geek, but that doesn’t matter. The concept of life on another planet and in a different time zone is simple and brilliant.
Two identities. Two completely separate lives. Rick and Dan exist in the other’s dreams – but where do the lines between the subconscious and reality lie? Rick lives a seemingly normal life, but Dan lives on another planet hundreds of years in the future. He and Vanessa are part of a small community colonising the planet, scouting for useful materials. The description of the unique landscape and the advancements in technology imagined are truly fantastic. More importantly to my mind, they are believable. No part of this new world feels forced or farfetched and consequently unimaginable. That can be a real deal-breaker with sci-fi, at least for me. However, I felt as much at home on Ecias as with Rick’s life on humble Earth.
It’s hard to tell if Dan and Rick are their own individual or in fact the same person, just living in different circumstances (or just the other person’s head). Each influences the other. They seem irrevocably bound together, but how or why are the intriguing questions borne from the narrative. This psychological thriller element sets Life, and Other Dreams apart from any other book I have read to date – for all the right reasons!
The pace of the novel and regular changes of perspective keep the narrative fresh. I found myself avidly devouring each chapter, desperate to find out what happens next for each of these men. They each have their own separate struggles in their own worlds, making the conflicts in the plot twice as exciting, and telling myself “just one more chapter” so much easier.
As to what happens next, we’ll just have to wait for the next instalment – Wake Me Up.
Author Bio –
Richard Dee is a native of Brixham in Devon. He left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.
Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, working as a Marine Insurance Surveyor and as Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich.
In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as HMS Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority.
Richard is married with three adult children and three grandchildren.
His first science-fiction novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of his Steampunk adventure The Rocks of Aserol and of Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space and the start of a series featuring Andorra Pett, an amateur detective. Sequels to Ribbonworld and The Rocks of Aserol have been published, together with a second Andorra Pett story, Andorra Pett on Mars. He also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection. Richard is currently working on prequels, sequels, and new projects.
You can find out more about me on my website at richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free novel or short story.