Hello and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series in which I take the opportunity to share the opening introductions of a multitude of books. These may be books I’ve already read, are looking to read, or even just a little bit intrigued about.
For today’s post I decided to keep my options wide open. I’ve been thinking about a particular author quite a lot this week, and so I’ve decided to feature one of his books today.
Can you guess what today’s featured book is from the intro?
Nothing but stars, scattered across the blackness as though the Creator had smashed the windscreen of his car and hadn’t bothered to sweep up pieces.
This is the gulf between universes, the chill deeps of space that contain nothing but the occasional random molecule, a few lost comets and…
… But a circle of blackness shifts slightly, the eye reconsiders perspective, and what was apparently the awesome distance of Interstellar wossname becomes a world under darkness, its stars the lights of what will charitably be called civilisation.
It’s bad enough being new on the job, but Teppic hasn’t a clue as to what a pharaoh is supposed to do. After all, he’s been trained at Ankh-Morpork’s famed assassins’ school, across the sea from the Kingdom of the Sun. First, there’s the monumental task of building a suitable resting place for Dad — a pyramid to end all pyramids. Then there are the myriad administrative duties, such as dealing with mad priests, sacred crocodiles, and marching mummies. And to top it all off, the adolescent pharaoh discovers deceit, betrayal – not to mention a headstrong handmaiden – at the heart of his realm.
I have been thinking about Terry Pratchett a lot lately and my love of the Discworld series. This is why I wanted to feature one of these books today.
These books are great fun to read. They are lighthearted and humorous, and full of fantastic quotes that I have saved throughout the course of reading them. My favourite from Pyramids is: –
“The conversation of human beings seldom interested him, but it crossed his mind that the males and females always got along best when neither actually listened fully to what the other one was saying.”
The narrative and the characters within spoof human character and how faith and traditionalism affect human behaviour. These books are laugh out loud hilarious, and anything that features the character of death, however brief, is a hit with me.
What’s really good about pyramids is that it is a standalone novel. It’s fair to say that any of the books can be picked up independently, but the character set in Pyramids don’t seem to appear in any other future novels. So, this is an undisputed choice if you want to sample the Discworld series without committing to the wider series.
Have you read Pyramids, or any of the other books in the Discworld series? Let me know in the comments!
Good evening everyone – you know what time it is! I’m back with another Sunday Summary update post and I can’t wait to share everything I’ve been up to this week! It’s been a really good one for me. You’ll know that I’ve been taking a significantly slower pace this year, however this week I have felt more like my old self.
As I was taking part in a blog tour later this week, I decided to opt for a three-post schedule and shared my first post around midweek. That was a discussion post in which I shared my opinion on blog stats… and whether they really matter. If you haven’t checked out that post I’ll be really interested to hear your thoughts!
Then, it was the time of my blog tour post on Saturday. I haven’t generally been taking part in reviews for blog tours this year, however, I have enjoyed Karl Drinkwater’s Lost Tales of Solace series to date. I had an invite for this particular book, Clarissa, a little while ago and I signed up immediately! If you’re a fan of sci-fi, or even if you would like to give the genre a try, these books are a great way to give it a go as they are approachable to everyone.
I’ve made quite a lot of reading progress this week; in this respect I feel a lot more like my old self as well.
As of last week’s Sunday Summary update I have just finished reading Ruabon by Karl Drinkwater. From there I went on to pick it up yet another short story. This one was completely different to the usual type of stuff I read. It was recommended to me by the CEO of my company, who is also an avid reader. The Cockroach by Ian McEwan is a political satire regarding the subject of Brexit. It’s something we all have an opinion on and I really enjoyed reading this author’s witty take on the matter.
I’ve picked it up a couple of times casually earlier in the year, however as I hadn’t deliberately set aside the time to read it I found I just wasn’t finishing it or picking it up for a while afterwards; consequently I was having to restart. I’m glad I set aside the time this week to get through it because it was an entertaining read and it was good to get out of my comfort zone!
Next, I decided to pick up something a little bit longer. I’ve read a few short stories in quick succession and so whilst I had the reading bug, I wanted to take a step up. I scanned my bookshelves and settled on The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor. I previously read and loved her first book, The Chalk Man, and so I felt picking up her second novel was a safe bet to keep the momentum going.
And I was right. I managed to finish this particular book as well! It’s not the longest, at around 350 odd pages, but it’s the quickest I’ve read a book of that length for quite some time. I loved the premise and the execution of drawing out the narrative. The characters are also fantastic – honestly, this is a serious recommendation!
I’ve done reasonably well with audiobooks this week too. I had only a few hours of A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin left to listen to and I got through those quite early on this week. I love the book, but I’m glad to finally got to the end so I can listen to something different for a change. The audiobooks are around 30 odd hours each. I’m sure you can understand why I’m looking forward to a change!
Speaking of which, I’ve actually picked of started listening to my next audiobook as well. I’m now listening to A Suitable Lie by Michael J. Malone. I can’t remember off the top of my head how I discovered this particular book, but it’s a psychological thriller. From what I have listened to so far, it seems to revolve around the subject of domestic abuse. Some people may not like that, however I’m reasonably pragmatic about it. Whilst unpleasant, these things do happen and I’m not averse to reading (or hearing) about it.
Again, I have absolutely no updates for you here. This week my TBR went down one rather than up, so it’s going in the right direction for a change!
I’m planning on beginning the week with a Top Ten Tuesday post. This week’s theme is Books I Have Read in One Sitting (Or Would if I Had the Time). I can’t say there are many books I have read in one sitting, but there are a few – and there are plenty more that I would have done given the opportunity.
On Friday I’m taking part in another blog tour and providing another review for Karl Drinkwater. In yesterday‘s post I reviewed the third book of the series, Clarissa, and I’m continuing next week with a review of the fourth book, Ruabon. This particular book lived up to my expectations and so you can expect a glowing review! I hope you can check that post out!
Then, as always, I’ll round off the week with another Sunday Summary update!
In the meantime, however, that is all from me in today’s Sunday Summary. I hope you have a fabulous week wherever you are and I will catch you in the next one!
Hi guys and welcome to today’s first First Lines Friday post!
I’m back to posting my First Lines Friday feature on a regular basis and I am thrilled to be sharing today’s featured book with you. Today’s feature was actually inspired by the conversation I had at work today. We have just come out of lockdown this week and I’ve enjoyed being back in the office and able to have a chat with my colleagues. I quite often end up having bookish chats with my boss. It’s quite a small company and we all know each other really well. He knows about my blog and how much I read and we often talk about our current reads or compare notes on books we have both read.
Today we ended up talking about a book series we are both part way through. It’s written by a very well-known author. The conversation reminded me of how much I am enjoying the particular miniseries of which today’s featured book is a part of. We both enjoy the series as a whole for it’s lightheartedness and satirical nature. I love the silliness and laugh out loud humour, particularly from the characters introduced in the below quote.
Here is today’s First Lines Friday feature: –
The wind howled. Lightning stabbed at the Earth erratically, like an inefficient assassin. Thunder rolled back and forth across the dark, rain-lashed hills.
The night was as black as the inside of a cat. It was the kind of night, you could believe, on which gods move men as though they were pawns on the chessboard of fate. In the middle of this elemental storm a fire gleamed among the dripping furze bushes like the madness in a weasel’s eye. It illuminated three hunched figures. As the cauldron bubbled an eldritch voice shrieked: “When shall we three meet again?”
There was a pause.
Finally another voice said, in far more ordinary tones: “Well, I can do next Tuesday.”
Through the fathomless deeps of space swims the star turtle Great A’Tuin, bearing on its back the four giant elephants who carry on their shoulders the mass of the Discworld. A tiny sun and moon spin around them, on a complicated orbit to induce seasons, so probably nowhere else in the multiverse is it sometimes necessary for an elephant to cock a leg and allow the sun to go past.
Exactly why this should be may never be known. Possibly the Creator of the universe got bored with all the usual business of axial inclination, albedos and rotational velocities, and decided to have a bit of fun for once.
Kingdoms wobble, crowns topple and knives flash on the magical Discworld as the statutory three witches meddle in royal politics. The wyrd sisters battle against frightful odds to put the rightful king on the throne. At least, that’s what they think…
I love Terry Pratchett. And it was actually his Discworld novels that got me into reading regularly and ultimately into blogging as well. His satirical writing style was something that I came to depend on at that time.
The witches series is my favourite, with the death series not far behind. Truth be told, there aren’t many that I haven’t enjoyed. They all have their good elements, although some shine brighter than others and this can definitely be said of the witches series in my opinion.
The antics they get up to are hilarious, but probably the thing that draws me to the stories the most is Granny Weatherwax herself. I absolutely love her character! She is hilarious, sarcastic and truth be told a bit of a bossy boots, but she is a real driving force to be reckoned with. I wouldn’t like to cross her, put it that way!
I hope you enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday feature! Have you read Wyrd Sisters, or any of the other Discworld novels? If not, does this intro entice you to give it a go? Let me know in the comments!
Hi guys! I hope you are having a lovely week! In light of Donald Trump’s ongoing visit to the UK, I’m really excited to be taking part in a topical Blog Tour for a political satire novel, Time of Lies. For this post, I have been kindly provided with an extract of the book for you to read. I hope you enjoy it!
Time of Lies
In 2020 the United Kingdom elects its own Donald Trump.
Bob Grant, former football hooligan, now the charismatic leader of the Britain’s Great party, has swept to power on a populist tide. With his itchy finger hovering over the nuclear trigger, Bob presides over a brave new Britain where armed drones fill the skies, ex-bankers and foreigners are vilified, and the Millwall football chant ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’ has become an unofficial national anthem.
Meanwhile, Bob’s under-achieving, Guardian-reading brother Zack gets a tap on the shoulder from a shady Whitehall mandarin. A daring plot is afoot to defy the will of the people and unseat the increasingly unstable PM. Can Zack stop his brother before he launches a nuclear strike on Belgium? And just what is ACERBIC, Britain’s most closely-guarded military secret?
A darkly comic political thriller, Time of Lies is also a terrifyingly believable portrait of an alternative Britain. It couldn’t happen here… could it?
In 2020 the UK elects its own Donald Trump as Prime Minister – Bob Grant, uneducated Bermondsey geezer and self-made millionaire. The election slogan of Bob’s BG party is ‘Britain’s Great! End of!’.
Zack, a Guardian-reading out-of-work actor, can’t believe that his brother Bob has his finger on Britain’s nuclear trigger. Meanwhile Patrick Smath, the Eton-educated permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, is wetting himself and having to tell Bob Britain’s most closely-guarded secret for the last 25 years.
Zack is married to Kathy, a rising Royal Naval officer and Patrick’s right hand person; they have just had a difficult visit with Kathy’s mum who lives in Helensburgh, Scotland. Here they meet the business end of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Zack is telling the story. (When the author went to Helensburgh for research, he booked a trip in a sailing boat so he could get a view from low down in the water. He never imagined that he’d experience in real life the scene below. But he did.)
We walk out to the Rhu Narrows light, two hundred yards into Gare Loch on the end of a shingle spit. It’s like standing beside a Belisha beacon on a traffic island, one-third of the way across one of London’s clogged arterial roads ‒ maybe the Cromwell Road near Earl’s Court – but the Narrows is narrower. Three miles to the north, guarded by a stationary police boat and some undercover seagulls, is Faslane. In the event of a nuclear bust-up, this will be the first place in the British Isles to be vaporised, taking with it Glasgow and over a million people. The forests and heather of Loch Long and Loch Lomond would be ablaze.
Some of the seagulls eye us quizzically and call up reinforcements. A black police inflatable comes round Rosneath Point, darting about like a fly.
‘Barry and Joan do a great job looking in on her,’ I point out.
Kathy’s worry lines report for duty. ‘But their son has just bought that place near Granada. They’ll be around less in the winters.’
I can tell she’s thinking about the possible move to Washington. Kathy’s boss is Patrick Smath. He pronounces it ‘Smayth’. From what Kathy says, he’s nice enough in a sorry-you-weren’t-as-well-educated-as-I-was way. He’s no Navy man but right up there, the most senior civil servant in the Ministry of Defence. For the last year Kathy has been working for him. If there is anything to Cairstine’s mutterings about a man with designs on Kathy’s career, that man is Patrick.
‘He wants me to go to Washington, but spend some time with the war-gamers at Rhode Island first.’
‘Don’t you think war games says it all?’
‘Zack, sometimes! I’ve told you … they’re not games. They’re about getting ready for the future. For goodness sake, think about the Russians, the terrorists, the hackers. No-one’s playing by the old rules. If we don’t practise, we lose. All our best people do this kind of stuff. Why Patrick thinks I’m one of them I don’t get, but don’t wind me up.’
I hold her close and bury my face in her shawl, in the smoothness of alpaca and bamboo. When my eyes open I’m facing Rosneath Point. Beyond the Firth of Clyde lies the Atlantic.
I catch my breath at a sight I’ve never seen before. A dark sword is being unsheathed at the water’s edge. The sword slides into view between low, grey-green hills, yachts at play and a ferry boat. Its front is rounded but as alien and black as Kubrick’s monoliths in 2001. While the submarine turns towards us its length vanishes, but not for long: the god of destruction accompanied by eight armed boats and tugs heads our way. This is Shiva, with two periscopes and a sonar third eye. His trident can spit dozens of nuclear warheads more than 7,000 miles. He is coming in procession before us.
He passes us almost within arm’s reach. The submarine is one-third again as wide as an athletics track, as long as an athletics oval. Fifteen-thousand tonnes drive through the water in silence. Wavelets touch Darth Vader’s cloak before streaming in lines to lap obediently at our feet. The dorsal fin, the conning tower, rises five storeys above us. Diving planes protrude to port and starboard. The tail fin makes a defiant finger gesture out of the wake. We don’t care to find out whether Shiva’s bridesmaids will fire their heavy calibre machine-guns, so we don’t wave.
And then he is past, handing back to us permission to speak while he punts his way up Gare Loch. Yes, one of the biggest insanities in human history has just passed close enough to touch. But see the other side of me, he now says. Watch me transporting underwater what you do not care to think about. I’ve been taking your fears to a safe place for decades. Thousands of sailors and engineers and physicists have worked hard at it. The least you might do is say thanks?
Author Bio –
Douglas Board is the author of the campus satire MBA (Lightning Books, 2015), which asked why so much of the business world is Managed By Arseholes. Time of Lies, his second novel, is a timely exploration of the collapse of democracy.
Born in Hong Kong, he has degrees from Cambridge and Harvard and worked for the UK Treasury and then as a headhunter. He has also had a distinguished career in public life, serving as treasurer of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and chairing the British Refugee Council.
As well as writing fiction, he is the author of two applied research books on leadership, which was the subject of his doctorate. He is currently a senior visiting fellow at the Cass Business School in London. He and his wife Tricia Sibbons live in London and Johannesburg.