Tag: science fiction

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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Blog Tour Review: Grubane – Karl Drinkwater

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s blog tour post for Grubane by Karl Drinkwater! I’m glad you could join me to hear my thoughts on this fun, entertaining sci-fi short story. You may remember that I read another Lost Tales of Solace story earlier this year. If you haven’t already checked that review out and want an introduction, you can find my review of Helene here.

As always, I would like to take the opportunity to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and the author Karl Drinkwater for the opportunity to take part in today’s blog tour. If you enjoy today’s review post be sure to check out some of the posts by other bloggers taking part in this tour as well!

 

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?

 

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/b/Grubane

 

My Thoughts…

Whether or not you have read any books in the Lost Solace universe, Grubane is easy to pick up and enjoy. It can be read as part of the series or as a standalone book; the narrative isn’t dependent on knowledge of events in the others. I read the first book of the Lost Tales (Helene) back in March having not read the main series. It didn’t matter in the slightest! I read Grubane with an idea of what to expect with the author’s writing style and the universe the story is set in, in general terms, but the storylines are different and are independent of one another. In addition to these shorts, have some of the main series books to read. It will be interesting to see how these all tie together later.

You might think that the narrative could come across as clinical given that the tale is told from the perspective of an AI. That isn’t the case at all! The AI’s featured in the books I have read so far are really quite special. They are highly intelligent and through human contact, they learn a lot about humans and go on to develop personalities of their own. The dynamic between Grubane and Aurikaa12 is one that emphasises the point that humans and technology can learn a lot from each other.

Through Aurikaa12 we learn a lot about the prestigious Major Grubane and there is plenty of character development. The difficult scenario he finds himself in and how he responds to such tells us a lot about him as a person. The chess component of the novel is very interesting as it proves that the Major is an excellent strategist. I also liked how the events in the book were analogised to a game of chess as well!

There is no shortage of action in Grubane and the fast-paced narrative makes this very easy to pick up and become immersed in. I read Grubane in just a couple of sittings. The narrative packs in plenty of plot twists and unexpected moments despite being just over one hundred pages long. It’s the perfect length to still be long enough to invest in the characters and storyline but also accessible and a relatively quick read. Personally, Grubane struck the perfect balance on the length to have the best of both.

 

Author Bio

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

Social Media Links –

Website https://karldrinkwater.uk

Twitter http://twitter.com/karldrinkwater

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/karlzdrinkwater

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/authorkdrinkwater/

Newsletter http://bit.ly/newsletterkd

 

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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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 – July 2020

I can’t believe I am writing yet another reading list post. Where is the year going? Don’t get me wrong, with this year’s track record it’s not a bad thing, but still! We’re now over halfway through the year, and I’m definitely not half-way through my reading challenges. Oh well, maybe that’s a discussion for another post, but I’m not beating myself up over it.

For now though, shall we jump into the next few books I am planning to read over the next month?

 

Chimeborn – Daniel Curry

Goodreads – Chimeborn

Welcome to Whitby, the quaint, magical town on the sea. Its ruined Abbey watches over from the East Cliff, broken and long since abandoned. However a magic within watches over Darcy Colben and his friends – the Chimeborn.

Born in the witching hour of midnight and gifted with magical sight, Chimeborn can see the Abbey for what it really is. A centuries old academy for their kind, and home to the Council of Chime. The power of Saint Hilda still resides in Whitby and this power has been shattered among the modern Chimeborn. A battle brews for control of the ancient magic, and sides will need to be chosen by all.

Ideal for strong young readers, and an enjoyable story up to young adult, this tale of power and growing up will leave you desperate to explore the shores of the north-east of England and find the magic for yourself.

 

I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting to carry this book forward to this month, but here we are. I had to cut back a lot of my jobs around the house, as well as hobbies in order to study for an exam. As it happens, I actually sat that exam this morning and the hard work paid off, so it was worth it! I still have around two-thirds of the book to finish, but that equates to a couple of hours reading time, so not a huge thing.

 

The Burning Land – Bernard Cornwell

Goodreads – The Burning Land

The enemy is massing on the borders, a united force for once.

The king, a man of many victories, is in failing health, and his heir is an untested youth.

Uthred, the king’s champion, leads his country’s forces to war, but his victory is soured by personal tragedy and by the envy of the king’s court. So he breaks with the king and takes off for the land of his birth, determined to resist all calls for his return. That is, until one unexpected request…

This is the making of England brought magnificently to life by the master of historical fiction.

 

Despite not finishing Chimeborn, I did actually start The Burning Land – the last book on last month’s TBR. I was confident this was going to be a carryover when I wrote last month’s TBR, so its reappearance isn’t a surprise.

A few nights ago I did allow myself a break from studying to have a ‘fun’ read before bed, but I was in the mood to start this book. I’ve read the first few chapters, so I’m 7% of the way through at the moment. I’m optimistic I will get to finish it this month!

 

Grace & Serenity – Annalisa Crawford

Goodreads – Grace & Serenity

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

 

I was really glad to be invited onto the blog tour for this book because doesn’t it sound so sinister?! I’m intrigued to read more and find out what it’s all about! I recently read another novel with a strong theme of abuse and it was written really well. I hope this is just as good, because if so, I am bound to enjoy it!

 

The Dead Tell Lies – J  R Kirwan

Greg Adams, a criminal psychologist at Scotland Yard, specialises in bringing serial killers to justice. He tracks down a spree serial killer nicknamed the Divine, who has already killed six teenage girls and is about to kill a seventh. Greg works out the location where he is hiding and joins a raid. The police capture the Divine and save the girl, but on the very same night, Greg’s wife is brutally murdered by another serial killer, known as the Dreamer.

A year later, unable to bring the killer to justice, Greg has quit his job and is ready to end it all, when he receives a phone call from a man who tells him the Dreamer is dead, and that he didn’t kill Greg’s wife, Kate.

Greg returns to Scotland Yard to work for Superintendent Chief Detective Donaldson in the hope he can re-examine the case with the help of two new detectives, Finch and Matthews.

As Greg delves into the case further, he becomes more convinced that the Dreamer wasn’t the man responsible for his wife’s murder.

​But if it wasn’t the Dreamer, who was it?

In order to solve the mystery around his wife’s murder, Greg is going to have to delve even deeper into the mind of a terrifying psychopath. And this time he might not make it back in one piece…

 

It has been a little while since I’ve read a crime thriller, so I’m looking forward to taking part in this publication blog tour. I’m a sucker for a psychology element to a novel! More details about the book are being published closer to the publication date, including the cover. So, I can’t share that with you right now, hence the placeholder image. Sorry guys!

 

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?

 

I’m going to try my best to get to this last book on the TBR, but as with The Burning Land in last month’s reading list – if I manage to start it I’ll be happy. In theory, I do have a bit more free time coming up so there isn’t any reason why I wouldn’t get round to this. I picked Sleeping Giants as the genre varies from the books already on the TBR, but also as it will count towards the Beat the Backlist challenge I am taking part in this year. I’ll admit, I’ve written off completing it, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up on it entirely!

Have you read any of the books on this month’s reading list? What are you reading?

 

 

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Stay at Home Book Tag

Hey guys! In my Sunday Summary post a couple of days ago I told you that I was going to be sharing a little bit more of a fun post this week. It’s been absolutely ages since I’ve done a tag and I read a great one over on The Book Dutchesses’s blog last week. Please go and check out Candyce’s answers to this tag – I’m sure you’ll enjoy her take on the post as much as I did!

It’s the Stay at Home tag… only appropriate in light of all the quarantining we have had to do lately! I’m glad to share that it has actually come to an end here in the Isle of Man. The borders are still closed, but we’ve had no active cases for about two weeks and no new positive tests for nearly four weeks as of this post.

 

Laying In Bed: A Book You Read In A Day

I certainly haven’t had the chance to read a book in a day during quarantine. Despite being at home, I am fortunate enough to still be able to work remotely and so I haven’t had the time. I’ll also come on to this later on in the post, but there is one other pretty big thing that’s happened since the pandemic started which has taken up my time.

The last book I read in a day, as far as I recall, was The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. Technically I read it across two days, but within 24 hours so it still counts as far as I’m concerned. I have read other short stories and novellas since then, but that feels like a bit of a cheat to count them. The Silent Patient is around 325 pages, so a good size book to have crammed into a day!

 

Snacking: A Guilty Pleasure Read

I’m not a big fan of books that are heavily based around character relationships, but the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is the exception to the rule and for that reason, they are my guilty pleasure. The relationship itself is about companionship and belonging with someone who has the same ideals as you… even though the rest of the world thinks it’s impossible. It’s not lewd or even particularly sexual, which is why I enjoy this series so much!

 

Netflix: A Series You Want To Start

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson. I’ve read eight books of his so far across three series’ (or future series in the case of Elantris). One series that I haven’t started yet is Skyward. I love the fantasy novels of his that I have read so far, but I’m looking forward to seeing how well he writes science-fiction. I bought this book just before lockdown, so an apt feature here.

 

Deep Clean: A Book That’s Been On Your TBR Forever

As Candyce said in her post, I could also write an incredibly long list of books that have been on my TBR forever! I am trying to work through them (albeit slowly at the moment), but I’ll get there eventually. The book I’m featuring here could equally have been a candidate for the previous topic, but it’s best suited here. Not saying I am trying to get through every Sanderson book written ever or anything, but…

 

Animal Crossing: A Book You Bought Because Of The Hype

The last book I bought based on fabulous reviews and hype in the book blogging community was Circe by Madeleine Miller and honestly, it was a little bit of a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. It was a perfectly acceptable read. I just didn’t think it lived up to the hype. There’s a good lesson learned there because I won’t be so quick to make the same mistake again. Circe was a little out of my comfort zone as I have scarce knowledge of Greek gods at best. Ironically, I have gone on to buy more books because I enjoy the topic. Next time I read a massive hype about a book, I’ll seriously consider whether it’s my cup of tea in the first place. If the book doesn’t appeal to me in its own right, then I shouldn’t buy it.

 

Productivity: A Book You Learned From Or Had An Impact On You

The last book that had an impact on me is one I reviewed during quarantine. I’m a huge fan of books based around WW2… morbid I know, but I’m fascinated. Cilka’s Journey taught me something I didn’t know – that some prisoners from the camps after they were ‘liberated’ were forced into labour camps elsewhere for several years afterwards for ‘aiding the Nazi’s’. They basically went from one hell to another. It’s hard to imagine having to go through that!

 

FaceTime: A Book You Were Gifted

I’ve been gifted a few books over the years. I feel sorry for family members who have ever considered trying to get me a book as a gift because knowing what I have and don’t have would be an impossible task. I only really get books if I specifically ask for them – otherwise, it’s a trusty voucher. I’m not complaining, I take great delight in spending them! I love wandering around my local Waterstones… especially if it’s spending money that isn’t mine!

One book I was gifted that I wasn’t expecting was Dune by Frank Herbert. I got this about three years ago for my birthday from a collection put together by my work colleagues. It’s a science-fiction novel, and it’s a bit of a classic of the genre, so I would have probably discovered and added this to my TBR in my own time anyway. I hadn’t heard of it when I got it, but it was such a great choice for me and I was really chuffed to get it.

 

Self Care: One Thing You’ve Done Recently To Look After Yourself

I definitely can’t pinpoint this to one, as I’ve had some pretty big changes in my life since lockdown began. The most significant act of self-care I’ve done is to move house. Now you’re probably thinking… that doesn’t sound like self-care at all! It has been stressful – especially so as I couldn’t have any help from friends or family. It was worth it though. I’ve upgraded from my flat so I have more space and more potential to make this place my own… plus, it’s an investment in my future. That definitely is self-care, just a bit more long term than the traditional definition perhaps!

In the short term, I have picked up crochet again and just recently finished making a baby blanket for a friend and then a jumper for myself! It’s been a good few years since I last picked it up, so I’m really happy with how well I’ve managed to get back into it. I’m also working on an afghan throw for my bed made up of all different coloured/patterned squares. It’s a huge project and still a work in progress!

 

Bonus: An Upcoming Release You’re Looking Forward To

Predictable I know, but I am sneaking in another Brandon Sanderson book here! The fourth book of The Stormlight Archives is due to be published in November this year and I’m really excited about it! I’ve read the first book, The Way of Kings so far, but I’ve been holding off reading more of the series since he’s not even halfway through writing them yet! I think I can justify treating myself to the second book now…

So, those are my answers to the Stay at Home Book Tag! It was nice to write a more casual post. If you like reading these, let me know in the comments and I’ll make an effort to publish some more! If you want to take part in the tag, please do and tag me in so I can see your answers!

Are there any upcoming releases you are looking forward to?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 5th April 2020

Good evening readers and welcome back to my weekly update post, Sunday Summary. I hope you have all been able to make the most of the weekend in? I’ve been spending mine cleaning, doing washing, reading, listening to audiobooks and working more on my crochet baby blanket project!

It’s been a busy week too, not just the weekend. I had quite a few posts lined up, so I’ve spent a lot of time working on blog content as well! My first blog post of the week was a review for a book I read at the beginning of the year. I received a copy of These Are Not the Trinity Papers from the author Vale Zalecki and it was finally time to put my thoughts together into a review.

The next post I had lined up was my reading list for April. I can’t believe we are a quarter of the way through the year already… but here we are! In that post, I took the opportunity to review my challenges, as well as set myself an ambitious reading list. I don’t even have to make excuses to stay in to read at the moment… it’s great!

Friday’s Shelf Control post featured a historical fiction novel that I am keen to read. It is part of my Beat the Backlist challenge, so I’ll be reading it a little later in the year with any luck! It’s a completely new period of history to me, although I am hoping from the sound of it that it is reminiscent in tone to the likes of Bernard Conwell’s Saxon Stories (The Last Kingdom) series.

And finally, on Sunday I shared my blog tour review of iRemember by S. V. Bekvalac. Fans of science fiction and/or dystopian fiction should really check out this review (and the book)! I think you’ll really enjoy it. You may have noticed that this Sunday Summary is coming to you a little late – well, this is why!

 

Books Read

Picking up from where I left off in last week’s Sunday Summary post, I did finish The God Game as promised. I blitzed the last part of the book before I went to bed and I am glad I did! It felt good to finish it after having a bit of a slow week otherwise.

The next book I picked up was iRemember, in anticipation of the blog tour I have just taken part in. I spent most of the week reading this and finished reading it on Saturday, just in time to start drafting my review. I really enjoyed the book, but I have been quite distracted and found myself picking it up and putting it down a lot. Not a fault of the book at all – I think it’s cabin fever! As much as I joke about not having to make excuses to stay in and read… I do miss going out.

I started my next read quite late on today and I’ll be reading it before going to bed tonight. Since I am taking part in a blog tour for Magical Intelligence later on this month, I wanted to get prepared. So, I’m reading it nice and early. I’ve only read the first couple of chapters so far, but I’m already hooked on the storyline and can’t wait to see what happens next!

Now normally I report a small amount of progress with the latest audiobook I am listening to, but that’s not the case at all this week! I only typically listen to a couple of hours or so a week, but I have really excelled this week! It’s in part because I am working from home and have been doing some fairly basic and repetitive tasks. I’ve also found them good to listen to when working on my crochet project too – they help pass the time.

This week, I listened to John Scalzi’s Head On in its entirety and around two-thirds of Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. That’s over 15 hours of audio!

 

 

Books Discovered

I read a great review this week for an interesting sounding thriller, due to be published next month. Dear Child’s synopsis caught my eye, and Drew’s review over on The Tattooed Book Geek was so good that I decided to pre-order a Kindle copy. It’s not out until next month, but hey, it’s not like I don’t have plenty of books to keep me occupied in the meantime…

 

Coming Up…

I want to start next week by reviewing a book that I read on holiday in October last year. Doesn’t that feel a long time ago? I doubt there will be any holidays in the near future too, sadly. Anyway, Circe was one of the first books I picked up on the week-long trip. I’ve seen lots of reviews on the book and I’m looking forward to sharing my opinion of it too!

This week I’ll be sharing a First Lines Friday post. I don’t normally have a particular book in mind so early on. However, there is a particular book I read years ago that I loved and want to share with you all now. I hope you’ll enjoy the introduction as much as I did!

Next week my Sunday Summary post will be coming to you on the prescribed day. It’s just as I was taking part in a blog tour this week that it’s a little late.

That’s all for now folks! Enjoy the rest of the week, stay safe, and most importantly… keep reading! Just kidding, stay in and stay safe friends!

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: iRemember – S. V. Bekvalac

Happy weekend readers! I hope you are having a good one? Since we are all in the middle of lockdown, what better way to spend your time than curled up with a good book? That’s how I am spending mine anyway.

If you are looking for book recommendations, then I hope I can help you here. Today I am taking part in the blog tour for iRemember by S. V. Bekvalac and sharing my thoughts on her book. iRemember is perfect for science fiction and/or dystopian fiction fans… so if that’s your cup of tea please read on!

Quickly before I jump in, huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

 

iRemember – S. V. Kekvalac

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.

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

For a limited time, iRemember will be available for only 99p.

 

My Thoughts…

iRemember has all the elements expected of dystopian fiction novels – the means to subdue a population and then control it. iRemember was created to allow citizens to protect their memories. The human mind is far from perfect, so why risk losing your precious moments to time and degradation or forgetfulness when you can upload them? That was the idea anyway… and citizens signed up in the thousands.

Helena Frome is the head of the totalitarian government now governing the City. iRemember has become her means of surveillance. Citizens own thoughts and memories can betray them if picked up by those monitoring the data being uploaded to iRemember. Icara Swansong is an agent of the Bureau working for Helena Frome, to rid the world of corruption, but she is fighting a losing battle. Beneath the calming Tranquelle fumes, a dark side of the city simmers away, longing to be forgotten and will do whatever they can to achieve it.

As a huge fan of both science fiction and dystopian novels, iRemember was a great read for me! Set in a futuristic world, the Bureaucrats have all the latest, fancy technology and software. Primitive versions of tech and traditional weapons we know today are relegated to the city’s forgotten underbelly, the Sub Urbs. Despite being more advanced, the technology used in this futuristic universe is very similar to some of the more sophisticated technology we have now and is therefore familiar.

The narrative of iRemember is so twisty that you don’t know who to trust at any given moment. Who is in whose pocket and undercover influence shape the story in an exciting way. Character relations are complex and you’ll find yourself second-guessing people’s motives constantly! I certainly did! There is a vast array in the characters within the novel too. I really enjoyed Lucian’s personal history and cynicism, especially paired with Icara’s overzealous optimism.

The overall story is written really well and draws the reader into the complex web. I really enjoyed reading iRemember and the combination of genres it encompasses. Nothing is ever as it seems and the narrative keeps you on your toes throughout! iRemember is a twisty tale full of deceit, lies and corruption… and cover-ups!

 

Author Bio

SV Bekvalac was born in 1987 in Croatia, in what was then Yugoslavia, but grew up in London.

She studied German and Russian at Oxford, and went to film school in Prague. After almost becoming a film-maker and then an academic, researching cities and films, she found herself writing fiction about cities instead. She started off with screenplays and short stories, but they got longer and longer. iRemember is her first novel.

She has lived in cities all over Europe. Now she lives in London, or in one of her own imaginary cities.

 

Social Media Links Twitter @sandra_bek @EyeAndLightning