Tag: ya

Reading List: October 2019

Hello spooky friends! It’s time to share this month’s reading list – and it’s a bumper one! I am going on holiday with my lovely sister a little later this month and I’m crossing my fingers for lovely sunshine and some R&R – reading and relaxation time!

A combination of blog tours and a few reads of my own choice to check off the list make for a busy month. In order to keep up with this list, I am looking at having to read an average of 59 pages a day. Combine this with taking part in Blogtober, and you’ll see that I don’t like to make my life easy!

It’s a good job I like a challenge right? Are you ready to check out the books on this month’s TBR?

 

Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles – Paul Twivy

 

This magical story is inspired by the most haunting and least explored country in the world – Namibia – with its foggy Skeleton Coast, buried goldmines, shocking secrets and awe-inspiring sand dunes.

Spread across the face of its deserts are hundreds of miles of ‘fairy circles’ : vast enough to be seen from space.  They grow and die with the same lifespan as humans, yet no-one has been able to explain why or how they appear.

Then one day, three teenagers and their families arrive from different parts of the globe. Helped by bushmen, the buried possessions of a Victorian explorer, and a golden leopard, they solve the mystery of the African Circles. What will be discovered beneath the hallowed ground? And how will it change the future of the planet above it?

 

My blog tour post isn’t until the end of the month, but I am prioritising reading these books first.

The synopsis is both unusual and intriguing for this book; it’s what drew my attention to it. The blog tour has been extended too, so it has grabbed a lot of bloggers attention. The book also has some sci-fi elements to it, so I can’t wait to see how this ties into the book!

 

To Snare a Witch: Book 1 – Bell, Book and Candle – Jay Raven

Goodreads – To Snare a Witch

A chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge.

No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.

But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe. What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust at any cost and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.

And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…

 

I am reading this novella for a blog tour as well, one day after Hallowed Ground. The end of the month is packed with reviews – four in four days!

At 85 pages, this one is comparatively short so I can probably read it in one sitting. I really enjoyed reading Game of Crones, also by Jay Raven earlier this year. The writing style of Game of Crones suited me really well and I devoured it quickly. I trust I will be able to read To Snare a Witch in good time too.

 

The Haunting of Paradise House – Killian Wolf

Goodreads – The Haunting at Paradise House

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House.

Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves.

Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

 

I have the pleasure of reviewing this mystical, arcane novel on none other than Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa here). It feels very appropriate to be reading books with spooky and sinister goings-on this month. How could I refuse this blog tour spot?

 

After Whorl: Bran Reborn – Nancy Jardine

Goodreads – After Whorl: Bran Reborn

RAVAGED BY WAR …AD 71. After the battle at Whorl, Brennus of Garrigill is irrevocably changed. Returning to Marske, Ineda finds her grandmother dead, though Brennus is not. Snared by a Roman patrol, they are marched to Witton where he is forced to labour for the Roman IX Legion. Embracing his new identity as Bran, Brennus vows to avert Roman occupation of northernmost Brigantia. Ineda becomes his doughty spying accomplice, though sometimes she’s too impetuous. Trading with the Romans lends excellent opportunities for information gathering. Over time, Bran’s feelings for Ineda mar with his loyalty to Ineda’s father. When she disappears, and cannot be found, Bran enters direct service with Venutius, King of the Brigantes.

 

If I want a rest after Blogtober then I have to go a few days longer before I can get it! After Whorl Bran Reborn is my last blog tour read of the month, with a tour date of 1st November. I recently read the first book in the series, The Beltane Choice. I enjoyed reading about a completely new period in British history. This book picks up after the events of the first book and I cannot wait to see how the story progresses.

 

Circe – Madeline Miller

Goodreads – Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

I first took an interest in Greek Mythology earlier this year, reading Mythos by Stephen Fry. There are a lot of good reviews of Circe, and it won a Goodreads Choice award last year. I bought a physical copy of the book earlier this year and I am taking this on holiday with me. Given the choice, I like a mix of e-books and physical ones – it’s not so large that it’ll compromise my luggage space.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

 

I bought my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone at the same time as Circe. Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer duology was absolutely fantastic! I wouldn’t describe myself as a champion of YA literature; I don’t read all that much of it, but I adored these! Based on my love of those, it was a no-brainer decision to try her other books. This also isn’t too large, so it’s coming away with me!

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

 

I won a Netgalley download of Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. Given the nature of the book, it’s appropriate to wrap up with this book for Hop Tu Naa. Doesn’t it sound really creepy?! It reminds me a little of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary with the whole small town and sinister forest vibe. I loved that book. I wonder how it will compare.

So, seven books… I think that’s got to be one of the longest reading lists I have set for myself. Have you read any of these books? What spooky reads are you reading this autumn?

 

 

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Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

Good evening readers and fellow bloggers! I hope you are having a lovely week so far!

In today’s post I am reviewing a book that had been on my TBR for a number of years before I finally picked it up in June – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I read the book within two days, which to my mind speaks volumes about how much I loved it. It has a unique narrative and character perspective, which is the reason I wanted to read it in the first place. For readers unexperienced with Asberger’s Syndrome, it is a real insight into the perception of someone who has it and the difficulties that come along with it.

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

Goodreads – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

 

My Thoughts…

Christopher has such a unique way of looking at life. He doesn’t understand social cues and hates being stuck in a crowd. Despite being a remarkably intelligent young man, who at fifteen is taking his A-Level in Maths, there are elements of his personality that remind you just how endearingly childlike he is.

The neighbour’s dog Wellington is murdered and Christopher’s carefully controlled world spirals into chaos. He resolves that he is going to solve the murder, despite his father’s insistence on keeping his nose out. He finds himself discovering far more than he anticipated and embarks on a journey that pushes his boundaries to the limits.

By the end of the narrative, Christopher has matured in his own way. He still battles with the Asberger’s, but he endures the discomfort and steps outside of his comfort zone in order to uncover the mystery that presents itself in his own life. It’s a difficult experience for him, but he emerges on the other side a wiser boy, better equipped to experience some of the wider world. One step at a time, perhaps, but he has broader horizons.

In terms of the narrative, I think a very fine balance was achieved to complement the personality of Christopher. The overall cohesiveness of the narrative reflects Christopher’s older and more developed side. He is able to write about a subject with clear ideas and without wandering too far astray. His recollection of events and conversations is remarkable too. There are times, particularly with Christopher is under stress, that his literacy regresses a little. The sentences can become simpler and more childlike in their focus.

One quote from the book has stuck with me because it is completely true: –

 

Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.

 

I love Mark Haddon’s portrayal of such a unique character. As a reader, you cannot help but will Christopher on when he is struggling. We take every step of the journey with him and watch him grow into the young man he is due to become. His faultless logic on topics allows us to see things from a completely different and refreshing point of view.

I loved the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time! It is definitely a book I will revisit and read again.

 

 

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First Lines Friday – 02/08/2019

Are you on the countdown to the weekend?! I sure am! I hope you are having a lovely day… whatever it is you are doing!

I’m back again with my regular fortnightly feature – First Lines Friday. It’s a fun way for you lovely readers to try something new, without the bias of a front cover or knowledge of the book before you read it!

So, shall we get on with today’s post? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book!

 

 

 

I am a coward.

I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending. I spent the first twelve years of my life playing at the Battle of the Stirling Bridge with my five big brothers, and even though I am a girl they let me be William Wallace, who is supposed to be one of our ancestors, because I did the most rousing battle speeches. God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward. And I’m going to give you anything you ask, everything I can remember. Absolutely Every Last Detail.

Here is the deal we made. I’m putting it down to keep it straight in my own mind. ‘Let’s try this,’ the Hauptsturmführer said to me. ‘How could you be bribed?’ And I said I wanted my clothes back.

 

 

 

This was my last read of the year in 2017 and I couldn’t put it down! If you love historical novels and particularly enjoy books around World War II then this is completely for you. Much of the story is told as a written monologue by our main character. She is so human and so relatable you just want to sympathise with the awful position she is in – a prisoner of war. She is an incredibly strong lady though, the woman portrayed at the beginning is very different from the woman she proves to be.

The sequel is on my reading list (obviously!) and I can’t wait to see where her character can develop from here.

Do you recognise the excerpt or have an idea from the description what the book is? Let’s find out!

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Goodreads – Code Name Verity

Oct. 11th, 1943 – A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.

What do you think of the introduction to Code Name Verity? Have you read the book or added it your TBR?

As always, I would love to hear from you!!

 

 

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Cover Reveal: Viola Pumpernickel and the Emerald Lady – Jo Baxter

Today’s book cover reveal is for a book I would have loved to read growing up! Viola Pumpernickel and the Emerald Lady was first published last year and has just had a makeover. I can’t wait to share the new cover with you!

Let’s take a look at the old cover and the details of the book.

 

Viola Pumpernickel and the Emerald Lady

Goodreads – Viola Pumpernickel and the Emerald Lady

Viola is a people-watcher. She loves to sit on the step of her father’s bakery in Brookwater Lane, creating stories about the weird and wonderful folk who pass by. Her father is secretly impressed by her big imagination but her mother thinks it’s all a bit silly, really.

So, when Viola witnesses a terrifying robbery late one evening, her theory as to who is behind this dreadful crime is met with rolled eyes and disbelief.

Determined to prove that she is not as silly as everyone believes, Viola sets out to bring this villain to justice and show that she is more than just a girl with a wild imagination.

Together with her older brother, Teddy, her best friend, Flo, and the mysterious Emerald Lady, Viola uncovers a plot far more dangerous than anyone could ever have imagined in this exciting Victorian mystery.

PRAISE FOR VIOLA PUMPERNICKEL AND THE EMERALD LADY:

“A gripping tale with twists and turns galore. You will root for Viola till the very end!” – Jennifer Killick, author of ALEX SPARROW AND THE BIG STINK and ALEX SPARROW AND THE FURRY FURY

“Mystery, intrigue and a fearless heroine. I love this book!” Anna Kennedy OBE

 

Purchase Links

Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

And now, would you like to see the new, improved cover?

This new version certainly has a lot more pop and personality. The illustration and bright colours are sure to be a hit and attract young readers.

What do you think?

 

Author Bio –

Jo lives in West Sussex with her husband, daughter, two cats and 187 mugs. She does love a good cup of tea!

Having trained as an actress, Jo had written three stage plays (under the name Jo Smith) before realising her passion for writing children’s books.

Jo is the author of  ‘The Pumpernickel Mysteries’ series of books.

Social Media Links –

Twitter – @thejobaxter IG – @thejobaxter

Facebook – Jo Baxter Author

 

Illustrator – Claire Elizabeth https://twitter.com/ClaireLizArt

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 2nd June 2019

Today has been a lovely conclusion to the week. Locally, we have been having some pretty miserable weather, but not today! It’s been wreaking havoc because it’s been affecting some local events we have on lately.

Any fans of motorsport may have heard of the TT? For those that haven’t, it’s an annual motorsport event hosted here on the Island. Riders on a variety of bikes test their mettle on the famous mountain course. For 48 weeks of the year, the course is just public roads. With bad weather and poor visibility, there has been a lot of uncertainty about practices and qualifying. Trying to get home before the roads shut has also been… fun. I’ll stick with fun.

Anyway, enough about that! What else have I been up to aside from dodging motorbikes left, right and centre? I finally got my Top Ten Tuesday post, originally scheduled for last week, live! I’ve been on a bit of a Game of Thrones bender lately. If you want to find out who my favourite characters are (based on the books and TV series) you could take a look at that post. Pretty please? On Friday I divulged my love for another fantasy series I have read recently in my review of The Watcher of Dead Time by Edward Cox. It was also lovely to get a thank you and a share from the author for my review.

 

Books Read

 

I have been on a mission with reading A Feast for Crows. Last week I set myself the challenge of getting to 60% through the book by the end of the month. I did it! If you look at the Goodreads count it only comes up to about 54%. That includes all the appendices though, and who reads them cover to cover? Not me anyway. Excluding those, my total percentage read came to 65% by Friday. I’m now at around 71%, and I haven’t contributed to that today at all.

I had wanted to finish my audiobook of The Painted Man this week, but with the TT being on, it’s more important that I listen to the radio for road closures, accidents etc. The roads are only supposed to be a track when they’re shut, but visitors and locals have a habit of going mad this fortnight!

 

Books Discovered

 

Whilst I was writing my review for The Watcher of Dead Time, I decided to look into further works of Edward Cox, past and future. I found The Song of the Sycamore, which is due to be published in a couple of months. I really love the sound of it! I’ve also decided that based on The Relic Guild trilogy, Edward Cox is on my auto-buy list of authors. I cannot wait for this to come out!

Middlegame is a book I discovered via an email from Tor. I love the element of Fantasy elements in it, but I think the strongest appeal is that Roger and Dodger kinda remind me of myself and my sister. I’m more like Roger with my wordy and literate nature, whilst my sister is very Mathsy. She’s a Maths graduate and trainee actuary if that tells you anything.

On Friday I received a lovely message from David Noe, co-author of Seeker. I reviewed Seeker, a book he co-authored in December 2017 (those early days! As a result, he invited me to read and review a new book of his being published imminently. It’s a book set in the same universe, called Kau D’Varza. I really enjoyed Seeker and I cannot wait to explore the new novel.

Lastly, I received an email for an invite to read Thran Book 1: The Birth by Brian McLaughlin. Again a fantasy novel, I really like the sense of adventure alluded to and the depth of characters! It was also recommended to fans of Lord of the Rings and A Game of Thrones… so, yeah. I think I’ll enjoy it!

 

Coming Up…

I’m going to be kicking off the week with this month’s new reading list! OMG, it’s June already. Hasn’t that come around so fast?

Midweek, I’m taking part in a bit of a topical blog tour! I’m sure for the next few days we’ll be hearing all about President Trump’s visit to the UK. Along those lines, I’m sharing an extract of Douglas Board’s Time of Lies, a political satire novel based on the idea that the UK elects its own version of Trump!

I’m hoping to keep working through some reviews I have outstanding, so this week I’ll be reviewing a recent read, Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three. I hope you can take a few minutes out of your day to check that out!

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

Jack’s Bedtime Reading – Book Review: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Not Another Book Blogger – My Week In Books (27th May)

Abigail’s Books – WWW Wednesday

Ramblings of a Neurotic Writer – How To Find Inspiration For Blog Posts

 

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Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 26th May 2019

Nothing beats writing a Sunday Summary post at the end of the week, but not the end of the weekend! Who else has the day off tomorrow?

My parents are working tomorrow, so I have a few plans of my own. Aside from doing the usual domestic things, I don’t plan to be without a book in hand for too long!

 

I’d like to apologise for not posting on Tuesday as promised. I found choosing my Top Ten characters of the A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) series a lot harder than I expected. Once I had picked my top ten I started writing brief commentaries on each. By 10:30pm on the Tuesday local time, I’d only written up satisfactory commentaries for half of the characters. At that point, I decided I wasn’t going to get the post ready for publishing to the standard I would like that night. Therefore, I decided to postpone it. When it does go live, I hope it doesn’t disappoint. I think I made the right decision in the end, and I hope you can understand.

I did manage to publish my review of Mythos by Stephen Fry on schedule. My interest in Greek Mythology stemmed from reading The Road to Alexander back in January, which features the story of Persephone and Hades. Mythos is my first non-fiction read of the year and I aim to read another four by the end of December. It’s not a huge number, I know, but we all have to start somewhere right?

 

Books Read

After last week’s Sunday Summary post, I promptly finished Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell. I really love this historical fiction series! The characters (Uhtred in particular) are fantastic and the narrative is easy to get lost in. I had less than 20% left so finishing this last weekend was quite easy.

I’ve spent most of the week reading Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean. I was kindly sent a copy of this to review by Gollancz. YA isn’t a typical genre for me, although I do like to sample it from time to time. I’m glad I requested this book. It gave me insight into a completely different culture and the fantasy element of the tale was really enjoyable to read! I look forward to writing my full review!

With Empress of all Seasons concluded, the rest of this month is dedicated to A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin. When I set my reading list for the month I said I’d be happy if I got around to starting the book. To be nearly 20% through the book with five days of May left is an incredible achievement! Reckon I can get to 60% by the end of the month? That sounds like a challenge to me!

I have also been listening to The Painted Man in the car on the way home from work. I’ll be popping out and about in the car tomorrow, so you can be sure I’ll be chipping into it some more. I have three and a half hours of the story left, so my second challenge is to finish this by the time I publish next week’s Sunday Summary post.

 

Books Discovered

 

Payday has rolled around once again (thank goodness)! This month I was determined to complete my paperback collection of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I was fortunate that my store was stocking each of the books I needed to complete my collection. I have some plans to jazz up my shelves with some GoT related decor, but for now, here they are in all their glory!

 

Coming Up…

 

With half the post already completed, I have absolutely no excuses to disappoint you this week. This week I will be posting my Top Ten A Game of Thrones characters – honest!

As with this week, I plan to share a book review for you later in the week. This time, I’ll be reviewing the final book in The Relic Guild trilogy, The Watcher of Dead Time by Edward Cox. This is another series kindly provided to me by Gollancz that I’ve really enjoyed. I hope you can check in for that post later in the week. If you want to check out my reviews of the earlier books in the trilogy, I’ll be providing links to those too!

 

Top Blog Posts of The Week

A Frolic Through Fiction – Thank you!!

 

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Reading List – May 2019

We are just over a third of the way through the year – isn’t that a scary thought?! Yes, it’s time to publish another reading list; I have lots of plans this month. My recent time off has got me kind of excited and slightly ambitious about this TBR. I have lots of books that I want to pick up now and in order to achieve my goal, I’m thinking of experimenting a little more with reading more than one book at once. This worked really well for me recently, so why wouldn’t it in the long term?

I’m also excited to be picking up more books that aren’t part of blog tours. I am only taking part in one tour this month (in stark contrast to the four I did last month). It affords me more freedom to choose books I have wanted to pick up for some time! I fully expect my last book of the list is going to appear on next month’s list too – it’s an epic in its own right.

 

Sword Song – Bernard Cornwell

 

“Bernard Cornwell ranks as the current alpha male of testoterone-enriched historical fiction….This satisfying tale leaves you hungry for more of Uhtred’s adventures.” -USA Today

The year is 885, and England is at peace, divided between the Danish Kingdom to the north and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the south. Warrior by instinct and Viking by nature, Uhtred, the dispossessed son of Northumbrian lord, has land, a wife and children-and a duty to King Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But a dead man has risen, and new Vikings have invaded the decayed Roman city of London with dreams of conquering Wessex…with Uhtred’s help. Suddenly forced to weigh his oath to the king against the dangerous turning side of shifting allegiances and deadly power struggles, Uhtred-Alfred’s sharpest sword-must now make the choice that will determine England’s future.

 

I’ve recently watched Season 3 of the TV adaptation, The Last Kingdom, and it has re-ignited my love for the story! I last picked up the series nearly two years ago now – June 2017. That’s far too long! I had barely started my blog at that point.

 

Son of the Moon – Jennifer Macaire

 

Can you face the consequences of cheating the Fates? Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery. With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?

 

This read is my one and only blog tour of the month. I have read the first two books in the series already, The Road to Alexander and Legends of Persia already. I’m really enjoying the series so far; I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say that I know very little of the time period itself. Whilst it’s great to visit favourites (Tudor History, for example), it’s also refreshing to try something new. This is a gamble that really paid off on this occasion!

 

Seventh Decimate – Stephen Donaldson

 

Fire. Wind. Pestilence. Earthquake. Drought. Lightning. These are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil.

But a seventh Decimate exists–the most devastating one of all…

For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides brandishing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power. And now the Bellegerins stand defenseless.

Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to find the book of the seventh Decimate–and reverse the fate of his land.

All hope rests with Bifalt. But the legendary library, which may or may not exist, lies beyond an unforgiving desert and treacherous mountains–and beyond the borders of his own experience. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn…

 

I have plans to read a book that Gollancz have sent to me for review next month, called The God Within. That book is the second instalment of a series. You can probably guess where this is leading… There is no way I’ll be able to pick that up knowing that I haven’t read the first book –so here it is! A bit of pre-reading, shall we say…

 

The Drawing of the Three – Stephen King

 

This second volume in the epic series ‘The Dark Tower’ both stands alone and continues the adventures of Roland of Gilead. He has mysteriously stepped through the doorway in time to 1980s America, where he meets Eddie Dean and Odetta Holmes.

 

I have started reading this book already! I finished April’s TBR at the 11th hour (almost precisely) yesterday and decided that I wanted to get stuck in with May’s list. This is my first victim ahem book of choice for the month! It’s been too long since reading the first book really; I need to pick these up sooner!

 

The Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean

 

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

 

Here is another read sent to me by Gollancz for review. I haven’t really read all that much fantasy aimed at a YA audience lately, so I am looking forward to seeing how I like this book. I think the plotline is really interesting – it’s what has enticed me to read it the most!

 

A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin

 

Crows will fight over a dead man’s flesh, and kill each other for his eyes.

Bloodthirsty, treacherous and cunning, the Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne in the name of the boy-king Tommen. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life.

The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.

 

There is absolutely no way I am going to get all the above books read in one month, but if I can read the rest and at least make a START on this one, I’ll be happy! Naturally, A Game of Thrones is hot-topic at the moment with the final series already halfway through (and wasn’t that last episode epic?!) Now more than ever I am keen to pick up the books and continue to enjoy the experience.

 

What are you reading?

 

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Reading List: February 2019

Hi guys!

Who would have thought it? It’s the 1st February already! Depressing January is over with at last and hopefully, we have all been paid since Christmas (thank goodness…)

Despite the weather being dull and dreary, January has actually turned out to be a productive month. I’m happy with the progress I have made towards my reading goal already. It’s been a while since I read five books in a month. Being skint probably had something to do with it. Long may it continue!

So, what have I got lined up for February, I hear you ask? Well, you have come to the right place to find out: –

 

It Never Goes Away – Tom Trott

From No.1 Private Detective to No.1 Suspect

A cryptic message from an old friend leads Joe Grabarz to an abandoned farmhouse in the middle of the South Downs. But Joe is too late, someone else has got there first: his friend is dead, and all the evidence points to him.

Ten years ago the farmhouse was the scene of three infamous murders when a young boy killed his mother, father, and little sister. Now an adult, he was released from prison with a new identity. Could he be involved? The farmhouse also sits on valuable land, fought over in a struggle between building houses and drilling for shale gas. But could it really be worth killing for? Whatever is going on, Joe knows one thing for sure: his friend’s murder is just a tiny part of it.

To bring the killer to justice Joe must dig up the past, and reckon with his own, because no matter how hard you work, it never goes away.

 

I am really excited to be taking part in the organised Blog Tour for this series a little later in the month! I have already read You Can’t Make Old Friends and Choose Your Parents Wisely; you’ll be able to see my thoughts on all three of these books in my tour post on the 9th February.

 

Karma Never Loses an Address – K. J. McGillick

Goodreads – Karma Never Loses an Address

Betrayal on Every Level

Marley Bennington had brutally murdered her older sister Samantha in a drug fueled rage. Only two people know that fact as true. One of those two people, was sitting in a state prison, serving a sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. Who was that unfortunate person? Alex Clarke, Samantha Bennington’s husband, the man so buried in circumstantial evidence that he confessed to a crime he didn’t commit, rather than face a trial. He was now trapped with no way out.

It all began as sibling rivalry and jealousy, as so many tales of treachery do. Now, that intense jealousy had ended in her sister’s murder. Once Alex was tucked safely away in prison, Marley was set to inherit millions of dollars tainted with her sister’s blood. But suddenly, two obstacles stood in her way preventing her from quickly obtaining the reward for her well executed plan. One obstacle was her brother, and the other a nosy little old lady. But for Marley, this wasn’t a problem. She had killed twice already and cheated the justice system. What were a few more bodies?

Justice delayed is justice denied. Can Marley be trapped by the very people she tried to deceive? Will karma finally visit her door? Another gripping, tangled tale from the author of Facing A Twisted Judgment.

 

I really enjoyed taking part in the tour for Facing A Twisted Judgment last year. When the opportunity to tour with a second book came up, I couldn’t refuse! I’m also touring for this one very soon, (11th February), so I’ll have to get my skates on!

 

Mythos – Stephen Fry

Goodreads – Mythos

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry’s hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

Thoroughly spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry’s Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age – in all their rich and deeply human relevance.

 

I started reading this book in the last week of January as I pledged to try to read more non-fiction books this year than I have done previously. So far I am enjoying the stories and the informative little tidbits that tie in the Greek Gods and the words that we use in English today. I’ve always liked little things like that. Weird, I know. I wanted to be a speech therapist at one point… if that explains anything to you.

 

Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares – Shaun Hume

Goodreads – Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares

When Ewan Pendle began his second training year at Firedrake Lyceum, he thought it might at least be easier than the first. Now that he knew he was a Lenitnes, one of an ancient race of peoples who alone can see the real Creatures which inhabit the earth, he hoped things would maybe go a little downhill from here … How wrong he was.

Ewan is summoned by Alice Blazely, the would be assassin who he and his friends Mathilde and Enid helped capture last year, the cunning woman using her final wish after being sentenced to death for her crimes to request a private meeting with Ewan. Alone together in a deep and dank cell, Alice reveals a secret which could turn Ewan’s world upside down – again. Does she hold the answer to deciphering Ewan’s disturbing reoccurring dreams? Can he ever trust the woman who wanted to see him dead?

As if a shocking revelation from a new foe wasn’t enough to handle, Ewan must also tackle a sea monster in the Thames, deal with the evil Rosethorn twins, come face to face with a shadow troll in a London alleyway and bargain with a crafty dragon, and attempt to find a treasure lost for over a thousand years …

As the summer ends, Ewan’s year long initiation into the world of creatures and the Lenitnes is finally over. But it’s then when monsters of all shapes and sizes really do start leaping, clawing and flying at him thick and fast!

 

Not only is this a read-to-review, but I’ll also be offering my feedback to the author. I was actually sent this a couple of months ago, so apologies for the delay in getting around to it Shaun! I read the first book of the series last year – it was one of the first ever reviews on my blog. Where will Ewan’s adventures take him next?

 

The End of Magic – Mark Stay

Goodreads – The End of Magic

There are epic fantasies where magic is a thing of the past, spoken of in hushed tones until some kid pulls a sword from a stone and it all kicks off again… This is not one of those stories. The End of Magic will take you back to a time when magic collapsed, when the world went mad, chaos reigned, and we’ll get to see it through the eyes of three people who have everything to lose…

Sander Bree is a royal mage. The personification of privilege, he lives a cushy life advising the king on matters of court and politics, yet still finds plenty of time to complain that he’s stuck in a rut. Rosheen Katell is an immigrant freelancer and, with Anzu her griffin, she’s worked hard to build a reputation as a trustworthy truth seer. She never lies, never kills.

Oskar is Rosheen’s younger brother. Mute from birth he is a moonchild. Alone and vulnerable, he will endure more change than anyone. Both Sander and Rosheen are entirely dependent on magic. The source of their power is the Lapis Moon in orbit above. Very soon, that magic will be gone, changing their lives and their world forever. Sander must keep a promise that would have been difficult enough with magic, but is a suicide mission without it. Rosheen is forced to side with a murderous warlord, and her once-solid principles are tested and found wanting. Oskar needs to survive unthinkable terror and find his sister.

All are set against one another in a war unlike anything the world has seen before. The End of Magic is an exhilarating wild ride, by turns epic and intimate, funny and dark, and perfect for fans of Jen Williams, Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch.

 

I received a request to provide an honest review from the author; upon reading the synopsis, I couldn’t refuse. I’m intrigued by the characters and the predicament they seem to find themselves in. I love fantasy novels (especially those involving magic) so my mind was made up very quickly!

So, that’s my reading list for the month! What are you reading friends?

Book Review Banner

Book Review: Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

It took me about a year after purchasing the book to read Strange the Dreamer, the first book of Laini Taylor’s duology. I didn’t make the same mistake when it came to Muse of Nightmares! After devouring Strange the Dreamer (not only reading it alongside an existing TBR that it wasn’t on, but also reading it all in pretty much one weekend solid) I couldn’t wait for Muse of Nightmares. As soon as I could pre-order a copy, I did. The fact that I got my hands on a limited edition copy with sprayed edges is a bonus!

I pre-ordered Muse and an agonising wait for publication date began. I waited. And I waited.

And then FINALLY… publication day arrived! I didn’t receive my email from my local store to tell me it was available for collection until just before 5pm, so as soon as work was done I bombed it there! No word of a lie. I got about as close to running as I ever will do! That, my friends, says it all.

 

Goodreads – Muse of Nightmares

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Muse of Nightmares pretty much as soon as I got it home – that is how excited I was for it! I took my time reading this second book a little more than I did the first. I simultaneously as wanted to devour and savour the experience. 

Strange the Dreamer introduces an already complex, beautiful fantasy world. I pretty much expected Muse of Nightmares to build upon the existing world already established… But to suggest that is the case would be an absolute lie and I would be doing the book no justice. Laini Taylor has developed the tale far beyond the realms of imagination (at least mine anyway, and I would say mine is pretty vivid). The plot far exceeded my expectations and I really enjoyed unravelling the truth of the past and what really happened all those years ago to the city with no known name. 

Where Strange the Dreamer focuses on the attraction of Lazio and Sarai, Muse of Nightmares takes a different tack. Instead, Sarai takes centre stage, and through her kinship to her fellow gods we pull apart the myth and uncover the darkest secrets of their existence. The relationships between characters is phenomenal, as can only be expected from Laini Taylor. I’m not a huge fan of mushy romance in books, but O wasn’t pushed away from these books for it. I like the relationship that blooms between Lazlo and Sarai as it stems from a need to belong; a need for companionship. In addition to the characters we are already acquainted with, we are introduced to two sisters… Kora and Nova. Inseparable since children, they dreamed of awakening godly powers and being taken away from their dreary life. When their fates drive them apart, they will stop at nothing to be reunited. The bonds between the characters are strong, complex and built to last. 

If there is one lesson that this book can give, I would say that it goes to show the influence of corruption. It’s easy to label good and bad, but in fact there are so many shades inbetween that we all find ourselves within the spectrum. Discrimination is easy when you can villainize the other party. Yet, the children are not their parents. They have been born into a world ( one of many) that victimises them for crimes they haven’t committed. For that, you can’t help but route for them in making their own way. 

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 7th October 2018

I’m writing my Sunday Summary. That means another weekend is over. Seriously… they go WAY TOO FAST!!

Not to rub it in… Okay, I am totally rubbing it in, but I have some long overdue time off coming up! So, next week is a really short one for me work-wise. Hopefully my next Sunday Summary will be chock-a-block with progress. I’m going to stay optimistic on that point, okay? We’ll see!

So, back to this week – what has happened? Well, I shared this month’s reading list with you all! I have some exciting books on the list, so if you haven’t taken a look yet, please do! On Friday I took part in a much-anticipated blog tour for A Stain on the Soul by Elizabeth Davies. This is the second book of the Caitlin series. In a few weeks time, I’ll be reviewing the next book – Another Kind of Magic. I received my copy on Monday and I cannot wait to read it at last! A Stain on the Soul leaves us on quite a cliffhanger; I cannot imagine how things are going to pick up.

There is also a little something that didn’t happen – sorry guys! I promised a post about the recent re-telling of Frankenstein on Friday. I’m going to make that up to you next week. If I am entirely honest, I had planned that for Friday, forgetting that was my blog tour date. Next week, I promise!

Now, onto a more positive note: what books have I been reading this week?

 

Books Read

It is hardly surprising that after re-kindling my love for the tale of Frankenstein, I picked up the book. Is it on my reading list? Nope. Oh well, the heart wants what the heart wants. I cannot and will not deny myself. I finished the second half of the book this week, with a little less fire and enthusiasm I’ll admit, but I am glad I read it. It isn’t the easiest book to read, but not having to analyse it to death like I did when I was fourteen is a huge help!

School really knows how to be a killjoy when it comes to reading.

This weekend, I moved on to Muse of Nightmares! I picked this book up on Tuesday after work. I practically ran… but only PRACTICALLY. I don’t run. I was fast walking at a push, really.

 

But anyway, I got it, and I started reading this on Friday and have pretty much been flying through it since! Even though I have been out a lot of the day today, I am still 75% through it. I’ll be highly surprised if I haven’t finished it by this time tomorrow night. I know what I am like, after all…

 

Books Discovered

Technically I acquired my copy of Muse of Nightmares this week, after a long wait, so I’ll include it here. As I’ve already talked about that above, I won’t linger on it here!

I also purchased a copy of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories. Not only is this appropriate for the time of year, but it also features stories from authors I like. George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King are just three of the contributors. I’ll look forward to reading these!

 

Coming Up…

So, what posts can you expect to come up next week?

Well, as promised, I’ll be writing a post about the recent event I attended, a re-telling of the story of Frankenstein. It was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I am also determined to finish the Mystery Blogger post I started several weeks ago! Now, I’ll have the time to mull it over, so I am going to finish it… even if it kills me. Overdramatic much!

I am also using my free time to do some work in the background. Most of it probably won’t even be noticed, but I have some tidying up to do. I experienced some gremlins when I migrated by blog a few months ago, so I’ll be batting them over the head with a stick, figuratively speaking of course. I am also hoping to make a slight change to the appearance of my blog, but fixing the problems are priority… and there’s a few of them.

Fingers crossed I’ll have it all fixed soon!

What books are you reading?