Tag: sci-fi

Reading List – September 2020

I can’t believe it’s September. Where has this year gone?

Given the current circumstances I don’t suppose it’s a bad thing that this year is flying, but still… shortly we’ll be 75% through with 2020 and it doesn’t feel like it should be at all!

Regardless, it is the beginning of a new month, and you know what that means. It’s time to share my TBR for the month ahead. This month’s list features a couple of books that I am reading for blog tours. Another is a request from the author and the rest are all from my TBR and contribute towards my Beat the Backlist challenge I set earlier this year. 8 months ago.

Again, where has this year gone? That barely felt like five minutes ago!

Anyway, shall we check out the books on this month’s reading list?

 

Freedom of the Creed – N. J. Coleridge

Goodreads – Freedom of the Creed

The Woe-Be-Gone boys, a vicious gang of outlaws rushes south through the American frontier, leaving desolation in their wake.

On their trail is Saoirse Creed, a bounty hunter with a debt to pay. Her only chance to pay that debt rides with the gang, but what depths will she sink to achieve her goal.

Now, as she tracks them down to a town on the precipice of despair, Saoirse must overcome the final hurdle in order to capture her man and return to a life that she thought was all but lost.

 

I am reading this particular book for an upcoming blog tour. The first thing that caught my attention when reading the synopsis is the chase through the desert. Might sound daft, but that combined with the western vibe reminds me of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. If you’ve read the book I think you’ll get it.

I haven’t read anything like this in a little while so I’m looking forward to it!

 

The Rue Stone –Janet Stock

Goodreads – The Rue Stone

The rue is a mysterious and rare being who is rarely seen, so Janna is amazed when one arrives at the inn where she works, looking for a room. The next morning, her life changed forever, she is left wondering whether she will ever see him again. Only time and the rue stone have the answer.

 

The Rue Stone is a fantasy novella that I’m squeezing into my blog tour schedule. It’s only around 80 pages, so a nice short read. I’ve enjoyed picking up some shorter books lately and I’m sure this will be no exception. Janet has published four books to date but this will be the first time I have tried anything of hers. Novellas are a great way to try a new author and I’m looking forward to giving this a go. The synopsis doesn’t give much away, so I’m intrigued to find out what happens!

 

 

Rags of Time – Michael Ward

Goodreads – Rags of Time

London.1639.

Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil.

A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over.

But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.

Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.

Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.

In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave.

Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase?

And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?

Rags of Time is the first book in an engaging and entertaining new historical crime series, set during the upheaval of the 17th Century.

 

Despite not really taking on many ARC’s at the moment, I’m glad the author Michael Ward contacted me to ask for a review of Rags of Time. It’s a historical/crime fiction novel which is right up my street! It’s not too long a novel either, so should fit perfectly into this month’s TBR with my other reads. It’ll also be nice to have a bit more variety in genre as there’s a high proportion of fantasy in this month’s list.

 

The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained – Various authors

Goodreads – The Psychology Book

Clearly explaining more than 100 groundbreaking ideas in the field, The Psychology Book uses accessible text and easy-to-follow graphics and illustrations to explain the complex theoretical and experimental foundations of psychology.

From its philosophical roots through behaviorism, psychotherapy, and developmental psychology, The Psychology Book looks at all the greats from Pavlov and Skinner to Freud and Jung, and is an essential reference for students and anyone with an interest in how the mind works.

 

Regular readers of my blog will have picked up on the fact that I’m a huge psychology fan. I studied it back in school and loved the lessons since I had a great teacher. I added this book to my TBR a good few years ago as a refresher to some of the things I have learnt already. I’m hoping there are also some new and different things in there as well though.

I have picked up this book before so I have an idea of its formatting. Its chapters are quite short and there is a new one for each ‘idea’. This will be a good book to pick up here and there as these chapters are very short and digestible.

 

Dune – Frank Herbert

Goodreads – Dune

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender’s Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis’ second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands.

In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them.

And his journey will change the universe.

 

It’s only taken me three and a half years since being gifted my copy of this book to get around to reading it…

I’m finally going to read an iconic sci-fi novel and I can’t wait to see if I agree with all the reviews. I have actually picked it up and flicked through the first few pages before now. I think I must have been bored one day and needed a change of genre. I’ve only really read enough to sample it so I know I like the writing style. It’s the longest book on this month’s list at just over 500 pages. Fingers crossed it lives up to its reputation as a brilliant book.

 

Red Sister – Mark Lawrence

Goodreads – Red Sister

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

 

I couldn’t tell you how old I was when I last picked up a book by Mark Lawrence. I’d quite safely bet that I was a teenager, but that’s as specific as I could guess.

The only series of his I have read to date is The Broken Empire series; I loved it! I’m surprised it has taken me so long to read another of his books. Red Sister has been on my TBR since April 2017 and it’s one of the books on my Beat the Backlist challenge. I’m not sure if I’ll get to finish this one before the end of the month, but I’ll try my best!

So, that’s my reading list for September! Have you read any of these books? What are you reading?

 

 

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Book Review: The God Game – Danny Tobey

Hi everyone! I’m glad you can join me for today’s book review of The God Game by Danny Tobey. I was very kindly sent a copy of this book for review by Gollancz. The synopsis caught my eye immediately and I knew this was a book I was going to really enjoy – I wasn’t disappointed! Thanks to Gollancz for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for a review. As always, the opinions stated below are honest and my own.

 

The God Game – Danny Tobey

Goodreads – The God Game

For fans of Stranger Things and Ready Player OneThe God Game is a brilliantly plotted science-fiction thriller about a VR game in which the stakes are impossibly high: if you die in the game, you die in real life

Five best friends in a high school computer club get sucked into an underground hacker’s game run by a mysterious A.I. that thinks it is God. It’s all fun and games until people start to get hurt.

And the stakes keep getting higher. As the Game pits them against each other and turns their high school upside down, it offers the ultimate promise – win and learn the meaning of life; die in the game, and die for real.

 

Purchase Links:   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

The God Game cleverly combines its sci-fi/fantasy genre with thriller to keep readers on the edge of our seats.

The most chilling part of the narrative is that, if such a game existed, I honestly think some kids today would buy into it. I graduated school a good few years ago now, but recently enough to remember what it was like. Peer pressure would definitely do its part in egging kids on to push the boundaries and do something they would regret later.

I enjoyed how well the sci-fi elements of the novel were written to be accessible to all. I didn’t find the language too technical or difficult to read. Anyone could pick this book up and understand what is going on.

I enjoyed the variety of characters in the novel. The dynamic of the group and the individuals within has a significant impact on the narrative and how each character responds to the circumstances they find themselves in. By the end of the book, I felt I knew them all well as if friends of my own. They aren’t the crowd I would choose, but the narrative is so immersive that you come to know them well by the end. The difficult and moral decisions they have to make give us an intimate knowledge of where their boundaries lie.

Sci-fi is one of those genres where I might not pick it up for a while, but then I’ll read a lot at once to make up for the fact. I read The God Game at the end of March this year and that was the fourth sci-fi book of the year. After reading it, I read another two books immediately after this. Despite this, the storyline of this particularly prominent and memorable. It’s a unique story and one that I think will be popular with a YA audience.

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 23rd August 2020

Good evening everyone and welcome back to another Sunday Summary post! I can’t believe it’s the end of another week already! I hope you are all keeping well?

This week I began with a fun Unpopular Opinions Book Tag. Having looked around for inspiration, I figured this would be an entertaining read and would give you the chance to learn a little more about me and my reading tastes. I certainly enjoyed writing it anyway.

Then on Friday, I shared my latest First Lines Friday post. This week’s theme was crime and I shared the opening to a brilliant crime/psychological thriller novel I read and reviewed last month. If you haven’t checked that post yet and you love that type of fiction I recommend you give it a read.

 

Books Read

This week I have been devoting my free time to reading Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. It’s the only book I have picked up so far this week, but I’ve really enjoyed it! In last week’s Sunday Summary post I talked about the book (having just started it) and how I liked the chapter formatting as interviews. This continued throughout and it made a refreshing change from the continuous narrative prose that is a more typical format.

I’m hoping to start my next book, Steelheart tonight with a cup of tea before bed.

Aside from reading, I’ve taken some time out to work on an ongoing crochet project. I was also asked by a work colleague to help teach her daughter how to crochet. She had taken an interest in learning herself but needed help with the names of stitches and reading patterns. I’ve enjoyed spending the time doing that as well this week, which is why I have only read the one book.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve been pretty good again this week and there are no new additions to the TBR! Not a bad thing, given the size of it…

 

Coming Up…

I want to share another book review with you first thing next week, and the particular book I have in mind is one I received a copy of from Gollancz to review. The God Game by Danny Tobey an entertaining YA sci-fi thriller novel I read and enjoyed earlier this year. It’s definitely time to share my thoughts with you on this book; I hope you can check out that post when it goes live!

On Friday I’ll be sharing my next Shelf Control post. This week’s featured book on my TBR is a non-fiction book, which is a rarity! It dabbles in psychology, which is why I think I’ll enjoy it, but it’s also supposed to be humorous as well.

Next Sunday I am taking part in a blog tour for Grubane by Karl Drinkwater. With that in mind, that post will be going live on Sunday and my usual Sunday Summary post will be shared on Monday morning.

 

 

That’s all from me in today’s reasonably short Sunday Summary post! Have a great week and I’ll see you in the next one.

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 16th August 2020

Good evening everyone and welcome back to this week’s Sunday Summary post! I hope you have had a good weekend, whatever you have gotten up to.

In terms of blog scheduling, mine has been a little busier than usual! At the beginning of the week, I managed to drag my poor attempt of a review of Days of Blood and Starlight out of the dump. I was really disappointed that I struggled with this a couple of weeks ago, but I think I’ve done it justice now. On Thursday I shared a spotlight feature post and author interview for Justice Gone by Nicholas Lombardi Jr. Since publication last year the book has gone on to win an impressive 5 awards! Friday’s was a Shelf Control post and I have finally come to the end of my classics run! This week features a book whose main character is book lover – someone I definitely relate to!

 

Books Read

After finishing Grubane last week I moved on to the next book on my TBR. I didn’t actually start Mindworm by David Pollard until midweek, but it was quite a short read and I finished the book on Saturday evening. I didn’t really know what I expected from the synopsis as it was quite vague, but it was an interesting short story. At just over 100 pages it didn’t take long to read at all.

I then moved on to my current read, Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. I’m only a few chapters in but I’m really enjoying the format of these chapters. They’re written as case file interviews and we are only just learning who the characters are. It’s refreshing to read something in a different format and there’s a good plot developing. Sleeping Giants is one of the longer books on this month’s TBR, but I don’t expect it will take me long to read!

 

Books Discovered

There aren’t any new additions to the TBR this week thankfully. I’m trying to cut the list down a bit as I have managed to creep over 200 books – oops! Thankfully this month’s TBR has quite a few books that will come off this list.

 

Coming Up…

I have decided that I feel like starting the week with a book tag. They’re fun to write and through them, you get to know a bit more about me and my reading tastes etc. I haven’t read many tag posts lately so I ended up doing a bit of searching on the web for inspiration. I found one called the Unpopular Opinions Book Tag and having read the questions, I think it will be fun!

On Friday I’m sharing another First Lines Friday post. This week I am going to set another genre theme as the last one, non-fiction, was fun. It was also a bit of a challenge as I haven’t read much non-fiction. This week’s theme of crime will be a bit easier as I definitely read a lot more of those!

And last, but not least, another Sunday Summary post will be coming your way this time next week. I’m reverting back to my usual 3 posts per week schedule as that’s manageable. I struggled a little bit to do four and keep up the reading.

 

That’s all from me in this week’s Sunday Summary update. What have you been reading?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 9th August 2020

Hey everyone and welcome back to another weekly update post! We’ve had a glorious weekend here and I’ve made the most of it – I’ve even caught the sun a little! Oops!

At the beginning of the week, I shared my reading list for August. It looks a little more ambitious than I have been recently, but it isn’t really. It just so happens that I have a couple of short books to read for blog tours, and the next few books going towards my Beat the Backlist challenge are also shorter. It works out quite nicely as I am looking to get back on track towards my reading goal if I can. If you haven’t checked out that post yet please do – have you read any of the books on my list?

In my First Lines Friday post I set myself the tricky challenge of featuring a non-fiction novel. As a general rule I don’t read many, so I had a limited pool of books to find an interesting opening for. I think I did pretty well and I’m pleased with my book choice!

 

Books Read

It’s going to get a cursory mention since I did technically finish it after last week’s post; I read the last 5% of The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell last Sunday night.

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was around 40% through This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. I said I didn’t think it would take long to finish and I was right. I finished this in a matter of days and I’ve already returned it to the colleague who loaned me their copy! This is probably the best non-fiction book I have read in a long time – I seriously recommend it if you haven’t read it. It’s hilarious, equally sad and really highlights the day to day struggle of being on the frontline in the NHS.

I’ve also read Grubane by Karl Drinkwater in its entirety this week. I finished this whilst sat out in the garden this morning in fact. It’s a sci-fi novel I am reviewing for a blog tour later this month. It’s a really interesting side story in the Lost Solace universe. At around 114 pages it was really easy to read in a couple of sittings!

 

Books Discovered

I have actually added one book to the TBR this week. After reading and returning This is Going to Hurt to my work colleague, he mentioned that he thought the author had also published another Christmas themed book (yes – I just said the “C” word in August). I looked it up and he was right – it’s called Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas.

I know what I might be adding to December’s reading list…

 

Coming Up…

Next week I’m going to attempt to share a book review that I started drafting a couple of weeks ago. I tried on a couple of occasions to put my thoughts down for Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, but I wasn’t happy with it. I love the book and the series so I wanted my review to reflect that… but it didn’t. For whatever reason, I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind at the time. I’m going to start again from scratch and fingers crossed I’m happy with the end result this time!

Later in the week, I am going to be sharing an interview with an author I featured as part of a blog tour. I read and reviewed Justice Gone by Nicholas Lombardi Jr in April 2019 and since then, the book has gone on to win multiple awards – it’s fifth just recently! In my post I’ll be sharing an interview with the author about the book, his inspirations and writing style, just to mention a few topics!

On Friday I’ll be publishing my next Shelf Control post. You might be pleased to know that I am coming to the end of my classics run (finally!) I hope you can join me and we can talk about the next book on my list.

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update! What have you been reading this week?

 

 

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Reading List – August 2020

I can’t believe another month has flown by and I’m sharing August’s reading list with you already! It only feels like five minutes since I published the last one.

My reading has been a little on the reserved side for the last few months. Given everything else I’ve had going on I think it’s completely understandable why. I’m still keeping busy with the house and work and all, but this month I want to make a push to clawing back towards this year’s reading goal if I can. As of writing this post I am 10 books behind schedule. Even if I can’t get back on target, I’d like to say I made an effort!

With that in mind, I’m going to try and read a few more, slightly shorter books than my usual this month. Two books are for upcoming blog tours and four more are on the list for my Beat the Backlist challenge. I wouldn’t say deliberately choosing something slightly lighter is cheating. If I dedicated a month to reading short stories out of nowhere, that would be a fair call. We’re still talking books that are mostly three-hundred-and-something pages at least, so they aren’t short to say the least. I just don’t fancy getting bogged down in five hundred page epics this month.

So, would you like to see what’s on August’s reading list?

 

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

Goodreads – This is Going to Hurt

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

 

This is actually a carryover from July, although it was a book I picked up pretty spontaneously. Long story short, I’ve just gone back to work and one of my colleagues read the book during lockdown. He says himself that he isn’t that much of a reader but he couldn’t put this one down… and I can see why! It’s brilliant! I read around 40% last month and have been reading more since the beginning of August. Realistically I am going to finish this very, very soon, but since I’ll have read most of it in August and I need to document it somewhere, it’s on this month’s reading list.

 

Grubane – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Grubane

Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal.

His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their reputation precedes them.

But this time he’s been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their compliance.

Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions. Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how many players are involved in this game?

Lost Tales of Solace are short side-stories set in the Lost Solace universe.

 

I discovered this author when I read another short story, Helene, for a blog tour back in March this year. Since reviewing that book I have also received copies of the main Lost Solace series from the author to read in exchange for review. I haven’t gotten round to them yet, but I knew when I saw this second upcoming blog tour I wanted to read more based around the universe before I dive into the main series!

I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this at the end of the month, so I have plenty of time to read Grubane.

 

Mindworm – David Pollard

The placid life of a college librarian is plunged into a desperate fight for survival when he witnesses the death of his only friend. Suddenly he is forced to confront disturbing changes in his nature and appetites and their consequences.Suspected of murder and pursued by an implacable police detective he runs – but is he running from the law or from himself?

 

Mindworm is my second blog tour read; although my post isn’t due to be published until the beginning of next month. I wanted to read it in plenty of time before my post is due to go live! Mindworm is a psychological thriller novel and having read some great ones lately, I’m really in the mood for another good read from this genre!

 

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

Goodreads – Sleeping Giants

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

 

Sleeping Giants was on last month’s TBR, but since I didn’t want to hang onto This is Going to Hurt too long on account of it being a loan, I chose to delay reading this until this month. It’s also the first read of the month that will go towards my completion of the Beat the Backlist challenge. Sleeping Giants has been on my TBR since April 2016… so it’s definitely overdue reading!

 

Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Steelheart

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

 

At 386 pages, Steelheart is the longest book on this month’s TBR. It’s quite common for me to pick up books that are around or even well over 500 pages, so it’s short(ish) by my standards. I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson, as you may have guessed by the number of books of his I’ve read in the last year! Steelheart has been on my TBR for a long time as well – since January 2016! My Beat the Backlist challenge is the one I am most behind in and the TBR is growing slightly faster than it’s shrinking… I want to work on that and so a focus on some of the older books on my TBR kills two birds with one stone. Plus, if they’re that old I really do need to pull my finger out!

 

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Goodreads – Lord of the Flies

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable novel about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”

 

My recent Shelf Control posts have made me very aware that I have a cluster of classics that I need to read as part of my Beat the Backlist challenge. I don’t want to find myself trying to read them all one after another. With that in mind, I decided to include one in August’s reading list. Lord of the Flies is probably one of the ones I am looking forward to reading the most – I can’t wait to let you know what I think of it.

 

The Feedback Loop – Harmon Cooper

Goodreads – The Feedback Loop

Stuck in a virtual dreamworld called The Loop, a man named Quantum Hughes struggles to free himself from a glitch that forces him to live the same day on repeat. His life changes when a mysterious letter arrives one morning from a woman named Frances Euphoria, the first human player he has made contact with in a very long time. Once Frances appears, members of a murder guild known as the Reapers begin surfacing in The Loop, hoping to capture Quantum or worse — kill him. To further complicate matters, The Loop itself is doing everything it can to stop Quantum from finding the hidden logout point by turning everything in the virtual dreamworld against him.

With time running out, will Quantum break free from his digital coma before he’s captured or killed by the Reapers? Who is Frances Euphoria, and what does she actually know about how long Quantum has been trapped?

The Feedback Loop Series takes place thirty years before the Life is a Beautiful Thing Series. It shares the same world, but is a standalone series that focus on dream-based virtual reality worlds and the people who are trapped in them. The next book in the series will be called Steampunk is Dead, and will be released in the fall.

 

Last but certainly not least, I thought I could try and squeeze one more book onto the list to round off the month. I hadn’t actually realised that The Feedback Loop was that short! I didn’t expect it to weigh in just under 200 pages, but there we go! I’ve liked the sound of this sci-fi novel even though I haven’t read any of the books it relates to. I think it’s the perfect opportunity to give it a go and then if I enjoy it, I can consider the rest of them!

So, guys, that’s my reading list for August! It looks long compared to my previous lists, but in terms of page count I don’t think it is any longer than my previous ones.

What are you reading?

 

 

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First Lines Friday – 24/07/2020

Happy Friday everyone and welcome back to another First Lines Friday post! I hope you have all had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend! I certainly am!

Before we start wishing our lives away though, it’s time to share the opening lines of another fantastic book. In my Sunday Summary post last week I set the criteria that this week’s featured book would be one I physically own. I’ve had a quick peruse and found an intro with a particular line I love. It was the selling point for making this today’s chosen book.

Can you guess what it is, or who it is by?

 

It was her third time with live ammunition… and her first time on the draw from the holster Roland had rigged for her.

They had plenty of live rounds; Roland had brought back better than three hundred from the world where Eddie and Susannah Dean had lived their lives up until the time of their drawing. But having ammunition in plenty did not mean it could be wasted; quite the contrary, in fact. The gods frowned upon wastrels. Roland had been raised, first by his father and then by Cort, his greatest teacher, to believe this, and so he still believed. Those gods might not punish at once, but sooner or later the penance would have to be paid… and the longer the wait, the greater the weight.

 

 

 

So, what book am I featuring in today’s First Lines Friday post?

 

The Waste Lands – Stephen King

Goodreads – The Waste Lands

In the third novel in King’s epic fantasy masterpiece, Roland, the Last Gunslinger, is moving ever closer to the Dark Tower, which haunts his dreams and nightmares. Pursued by the Ageless Stranger, he and his friends follow the perilous path to Lud, an urban wasteland. And crossing a desert of damnation in this macabre new world, revelations begin to unfold about who – and what – is driving him forward.

 

I absolutely love the last line of that extract. Don’t you?

I’ve read the first couple of books in the Dark Tower series already. This is the next one I am due to pick up. I bought the rest of the series a good few months ago (pre-pandemic) with book vouchers I had. Since I started the series in paperback (as I love Stephen King and I tend to buy physical books of favourite authors) I like to be consistent. I read in all methods, but if I start a series in one way then I have to finish it all in the same medium.

Stephen King’s writing is some of the best and fantasy is my favourite genre of all-time. I really couldn’t ask for more with this series! I am seriously going to have to pick this up soon; it has been over a year since I read the previous book The Drawing of the Three. I wouldn’t have guessed it was that long ago!

Have you read The Waste Lands or any other books in the Dark Tower series? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s audiobook review of Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. When I looked back to the date I listened to this audiobook I was amazed that it was seven months ago! I finished Thunderhead in December last year, which really goes to show that I need to get a wriggle on and catch up with my reviews!

If you are new to the series or want to check out my thoughts of the first book (audiobook), you can find my review of Scythe using this link. I remember writing this review at the same time as listening to Thunderhead as it served as a nice reminder of events before that made writing my review easier. As yet I haven’t started listening to The Toll, but I suspect I will be soon since it has been a while!

 

Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman

Goodreads – Thunderhead

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

 

My Thoughts…

You would expect that the lives of Citra and Rowan couldn’t be turned more on their head since being apprenticed to the Scythedom. Yet, that was just the beginning of a revolutionary shake-up not seen before in the world. Citra, a newly ordained Scythe, has the help of Scythe Curie to navigate the turbulent waters of unrest from the inside. Rowan, however, has gone rogue and taken matters into his own hands. Both have the same goal; to revolutionise the Scythedom be weeding out corruption and those that would abuse the power granted by their higher calling.

As a huge fan of dystopian fiction I enjoyed delving back into this series. The setting of the novel is interesting and the complex relationship between the Scythedom and the Thunderhead has a significant role. The Thunderhead, as an intelligent sentient supercomputer (for want of a description) observes the growing conflict between Scythes and can calculate the likely odds of the future. Strictly speaking, the Thunderhead is not permitted to talk to or assist Scythes in their duty. And yet, when Citra is deadish the Thunderhead exploits a loophole to communicate with her. For the Thunderhead to feel like it has to break its own rules, it doesn’t bode well…

I absolutely hate discussions about politics in real life, but I really enjoy the complexities of it in novels. Political divides are abundant in this second instalment of the series. The lines have been drawn for a large conflict. Although a dystopian novel, the ultimate subject matter rooted in this conflict is death. It’s something easy for us to understand has real meaning outside of the world created in the novels.

The ‘old guard’ Scythes believe that their duty is sacred. Their business must be conducted with the utmost respect and dignity to those chosen to die (for natural death has been conquered). Even those chosen are carefully selected based on historic death rates by age, ethnicity, manner of death etc. ‘New order’ Sycthes want to push the boundaries – be permitted to conduct their business en-masse, using a variety of weapons that aren’t designed to keep the business clean/painless etc. It’s brutality, and as a reader I found myself taking the side of the ‘old guard’ very quickly.

The characters are as large as life as in The Scythe, and with a few surprises and new faces the narrative of Thunderhead is still fresh. Some of my favourite parts of the book are the musings of the Thunderhead. As an all-seeing-all-knowing being, it’s a great way of getting a neutral perspective on events whilst also exploring the idea of a society run by what is basically a ridiculously smart (and scarily human-like) computer.

I can’t wait to see how events pan out in The Toll. The ending of Thunderhead is so unexpected and dramatic! It’s quite a cliffhanger, it has to be said. The events of Thunderhead far exceeded my expectations of what might happen, so all speculation for The Toll is thrown out of the window. I’ll just have to start listening to it to find out!

 

 

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Reading List – April 2020

I can’t believe it’s the beginning of April already! It doesn’t seem like three months ago I was setting myself targets for this year – but it is! I don’t feel like I am doing too great with one of those either, so I’m hoping to address that in this month’s reading list!

At the beginning of the year, I set myself a couple of challenges – the Goodreads Reading Challenge (as I do every year) and new this year, the Beat the Backlist Challenge. I also said I wanted to borrow from my local library more too.

The Goodreads Challenge is going well – I’m on track for my target of 80 books by the end of the year. It’s the other two challenges I’ve fallen behind in… not for a lack of trying! I’ve picked up 5 Beat the Backlist books, but I’ve had to DNF two of them. So, I’ve only read 3 out of my target 25 books. I suppose the aim is to clear 25 items off this list, but counting DNF’s feels like cheating so I’m not counting them. I have also tried to borrow from my local library electronically for some of the books I am reading, but they just don’t have the ones I am after in their library. Obviously, with everything going on right now the actual library is closed, so my options are limited with this right now.

So, this month I am going to be working a little harder on the Beat the Backlist Challenge, because that I can do! I’ve kept my blog tour schedule nice and light for other reasons – I was supposed to be moving house soon. Clearly, that’s also not happening right now! However, I would be daft not to take the opportunity to catch up with some of the older items on my TBR.

So, what am I planning to read this month?

 

iRemember – S. V. Bekvalac

Goodreads – iRemember

The city of iRemember shimmers in the desert haze, watched over by the Bureau, a government agency that maintains control through memory surveillance and little pink pills made from the narcotic plant Tranquelle.

It looks like an oasis under its geodesic dome, but the city is under siege. ‘Off-Gridder’ insurgents are fighting to be forgotten.

Bureau Inspector Icara Swansong is on a mission to neutralise the threat. Her investigation leads her into iRemember’s secret underbelly, where she finds herself a fugitive from the very system she had vowed to protect. She has to learn new rules: trust no one. Behind every purple Tranquelle stalk lurk double-agents.

A sci-fi noir with a psychedelic twist, iRemember explores the power the past holds over us and the fragility of everything: what is, what once was, and what will be.

 

I actually finished March’s TBR a little early (since I DNF’d Good Omens at 47%) so I have actually made a healthy start on this book already. I am getting the two blog tour reads done first, just in case things do ease off here and the move is possible. I’m not holding my breath, but I don’t want to count on it and then get myself in trouble as a result of being ill-prepared.

As it happens, my blog tour post for this book is due on Sunday, so naturally, this book is the first on my list. I’m really enjoying it so far, and you’ll be able to get my full thoughts on it on Sunday!

 

Magical Intelligence – M. K. Wiseman

Goodreads – Magical Intelligence

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.

And now hunted by one of their own.

Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.

Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

 

This is my second and last blog tour of the month. My post for this book isn’t going live until the end of the month, but I’m still reading it nice and early.

The synopsis sounds really good – and quite unusual! That’s why I wanted to read it and share a review for the tour coming up later this month. It sounds like it blends fantasy with mystery, two genres I really enjoy reading.

 

Boom Time – Michelle Lowe

Goodreads – Boom Time

Bootleggers, coppers, and no good, dirty gangsters! During Prohibition, the parties were wild, the alcohol was flowing, and danger was never far away. Pierce Landcross has been brought to the fast-paced future of New York City, 1926. His abductor, the Trickster, claims he’s hiding Pierce for his own protection, but cutthroats and femme fatales lurk around every corner. Lost in a strange land, Pierce vows to keep his nose clean, but that doesn’t last long when he falls into the bootlegging racket. Pierce has to quickly adapt to a world full of diesel-fueled machines, airships, moving picture shows, and clashes with rival gangs. At the same time, he has to elude a hunter from his own time sent to kill him!

 

I downloaded a copy of Boom Time from BookSirens as I really like the sound of the synopsis. I really enjoyed learning about the Roaring 20’s in history, and this sounds like it takes a lot of inspiration from it! Okay, it’s a very exaggerated version, but why the heck not?

My love of fantasy novels is really shining through in this TBR, and I don’t feel ashamed of the fact either!

 

The Bands of Mourning – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – The Bands of Mourning

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metal minds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

 

My first book contributing to my Beat the Backlist Challenge is The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson. You may recall that I have been reading the earlier books in this second half of the series over the last few months. I bought my copy of this book last month knowing I would get to it shortly. It makes sense to pick this up whilst the rest of the series is fresh in my mind!

 

The Thief Taker – C. S. Quinn

Goodreads – The Thief Taker

The year is 1665. Black Death ravages London. A killer stalks the streets in a plague doctor’s hood and mask…

When a girl is gruesomely murdered, thief taker Charlie Tuesday reluctantly agrees to take on the case. But the horrific remains tell him this is no isolated death. The killer’s mad appetites are part of a master plan that could destroy London and reveal the dark secrets of Charlie’s own past.

Now the thief taker must find this murderous mastermind before the plague obliterates the evidence street by street. This terrifying pursuit will take Charlie deep into the black underbelly of old London, where alchemy, witchcraft and blood-spells collide.

In a city drowned in darkness, death could be the most powerful magic of all.

 

The Thief Taker is my second BtB entry. I really debated with picking this up in light of its inclusion of plague and current events. I decided to stick with it though because I do quite fancy the sound of it. It’s not like the Black Death is anything like our current epidemic.

I featured this book not that long ago in my Shelf Control series and I have been thinking about picking it up soon anyway. I have a lot of Brandon Sanderson novels on the oldest part of my list for the challenge so I am trying to break them up.

 

The Women’s Room – Marilyn French

Goodreads – The Women’s Room

The bestselling feminist novel that awakened both women and men, The Women’s Room follows the transformation of Mira Ward and her circle as the women’s movement begins to have an impact on their lives. A biting social commentary on an emotional world gone silently haywire, The Women’s Room is a modern classic that offers piercing insight into the social norms accepted so blindly and revered so completely. Marilyn French questions those accepted norms and poignantly portrays the hopeful believers looking for new truths.

 

I have a lot of fantasy on this month’s list, so I have decided to pick up The Women’s Room as a change of genre. This is my third and final book contributing to my Beat the Backlist challenge. It is definitely quite a bit different from the books I pick up generally. We’ll see what I make of it!

 

A Dance with Dragons pt 2 – George R. R. Martin

Goodreads – A Dance with Dragons pt 2

The fifth volume, part two of A Song of Ice and Fire, the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age. Now a major Sky Atlantic TV series from HBO, featuring a stellar cast.

The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance.

In King’s Landing the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister, awaits trial, abandoned by all those she trusted; while in the eastern city of Yunkai her brother Tyrion has been sold as a slave. From the Wall, having left his wife and the Red Priestess Melisandre under the protection of Jon Snow, Stannis Baratheon marches south to confront the Boltons at Winterfell. But beyond the Wall the wildling armies are massing for an assault…

On all sides bitter conflicts are reigniting, played out by a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves. The tides of destiny will inevitably lead to the greatest dance of all.

 

The second part of A Dance with Dragons is an ambitious addition to the TBR. It’s here as an “if I get through the rest I’ll start this next” book. I don’t expect to get this finished this month as well as all the above. If I get to make a start on it though, I’ll be happy.

It’s the last book of the series (that’s been published so far), so when I finish this I’ll have completed my re-read of the series!

That’s my list for the month! Have you read any of these books? What are you reading this month?

 

 

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Book Review: These Are Not the Trinity Papers – Vale Zalecki

Today’s book review post features a science-fiction/thriller/horror novel that I gratefully received from the author in exchange for an honest review. The synopsis is really intriguing and very unlike anything I have ever picked up before. These Are Not the Trinity Papers is a real mix of genres, so even my best guess about what to expect from the synopsis was blown out the window… in a good way!

 

These Are Not the Trinity Papers – Vale Zalecki

Goodreads – These Are Not the Trinity Papers

Isaac Beringer knows the thesis he penned during his psychotic fit was utterly absurd and he was right to be laughed out of academia. Yet decades later, he finds himself summoned to the United States by Elias Cohen, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar technological giant who just happens to be his biggest fan. Elias may be beautiful and brilliant, but Isaac knows he must also be extremely batty to consider Isaac’s thesis the greatest scientific work of the 21st century. He soon finds out how deep the rabbit hole goes; a rabbit hole that houses a sprawling neural network of servers designed to emulate human learning, human corpses 3D-printed with flesh and blood, and a monumental amount of effort to resurrect one particular person from the dead. And Elias isn’t even his only fan.

Isaac might have shaken off his insanity, but unfortunately, the world around him has just fallen in love with it.

 

Purchase Links:   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

Isaac Beringer lives a reasonably quiet and comfortable life on his farm with his wife. He doesn’t remember much about his psychotic episode all those years ago but frankly, he is happy to forget about the whole damn thing. Other people have different ideas though. Isaac and his ideas have acquired an intense following and there are several parties interested in a piece of his madness. Yet some are willing to go further than others to get it…

I really enjoyed the futuristic world-building of the novel. The technology is more advanced but the world itself is very familiar and not-too-distant to what we know. In my opinion, there is the right balance of technological advancement; Isaac and Elias’ work fits in with the current climate as a feasible possibility but isn’t so far along that the reader becomes alienated from the setting of the book.

Isaac has lived without the technological frills the world at large is used to; his way of life is very much like our own now. As a character, he is very affable and relatable. Elias is at the other end of the spectrum, with every kind of technology at his fingertips. Elias introduces Isaac to a whole new way of living and lifts him out of his monotonous life. His position lends his character a degree of arrogance initially, but as the book progresses we see more of the man behind the billion-dollar company and more about his personal ambitions and motivations.

Those that like LGBT representations in books will enjoy a particular character relationship in this book. It’s a little unusual given the age difference between the characters as well. But at the same time, it felt completely natural. It isn’t forced in any way. Their situation draws them together and it feels right. You know sometimes how LGBT representation is championed as normal (which it is), but then hyped up so much that it stands out like a sore thumb? Yeah, me too. It’s so contradictory it bugs me. However, if you want to read a narrative where this isn’t the case, I’m pointing you in the right direction. I’ve seen the LGBT relationship in this book described as understated, but I don’t agree with that. I’d say other LGBT relationships are overstated… but that’s just my opinion.

I really enjoyed the blend of genres that came together in this novel. They complement each other really well! I had no idea where this whirlwind of a story was going to end up and I was surprised constantly by what happened next! I really didn’t expect some of the elements of the book, so it definitely has the capability to surprise most readers.

 

 

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