First Line Fridays – 11th June 2021

First Line Fridays is a weekly blog prompt originating with Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? The rules are as follows:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

So here’s we go…… I grabbed the nearest book I had lying around on one of my many piles of books littered around the house and here’s the first line:

“I got a story to tell you.”

Short and sweet right?? It draws you in though, what is this story and who is telling it?

It is……..

I’ve heard great things about this book and managed to get some second hand copies of the whole trilogy a while back. I enjoyed The Girl with All the Gifts by the same author (and I’m pretty sure I’ve read some of his X-Men stuff from years ago) so am really looking forward to diving in!

Here’s the blurb for those interested:

Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture beyond the walls.

What he doesn’t know is – what happens when you aren’t given a choice?

The first in a gripping new trilogy, The Book of Koli charts the journey of one unforgettable young boy struggling to find his place in a chilling post-apocalyptic world. 

That’s it for now folks, have a book filled weekend!

Review: I Know What I Say by Imran Mahmood

Blurb:

I saw it. He smothered her, pressing his hands on her face. The police don’t believe me, they say it’s impossible – but I know what I saw.

This is Xander Shute: once a wealthy banker, now living on the streets.

As he shelters for the night in an empty Mayfair flat, he hears its occupants returning home, and scrambles to hide as the couple argue. Trapped in his hiding place, he soon finds himself witnessing a vicious murder.

But who was the dead woman, who the police later tell him can’t have been there? And why is the man Xander saw her with evading justice?

As Xander searches for answers, his memory of the crime comes under scrutiny, forcing him to confront his long-buried past and the stories he’s told about himself.

How much he is willing to risk to understand the brutal truth?

Review:

This is Imran Mahmood’s second novel following the success of You Don’t Know Me in 2017. Having read and enjoyed that book, I was keen to read this follow-up.

The storytelling here is great, as Xander’s past is hinted at from the start but only revealed slowly and carefully, leaving the reader wondering what has happened for him to find himself in his current predicament. Every time I thought I had guessed what might have been going on, it turned out I didn’t, wrong footed both by Xander’s sketchy memories and Mahmood’s twisty plot.

I found it a really compelling read and was immersed in the story pretty quickly. The writing is great and characters well formed and believable. Xander in particular is great, someone we sympathise with as he tries to understand what has happened, what he has seen and what he should do. I won’t say too much about the plot for risk of spoiling anything, I’ll say that the ending stayed with me.

This for me was an improvement on the author’s debut. though that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy that one too. I’ll certainly be on the look out for his next work.

Who would like this book?

I’d recommend this to Crime Fiction fans, especially fans of UK Crime Fiction.

Published:

10th June 2021

2021 Summer Netgalley Challenge

Hi All!

I think it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a book reviewer in possession of a Netgalley account, must have requested too many books.

Its certainly the case for me. I’ve been a bit more restrained on the old Request clicking recently and got my % up but I’ve got a bit of a backlog of books to get through.

Stats time (I’m a maths nerd, I love me some stats):

As of this morning, I have a feedback ratio of 66% and 34 books which need to be read and reviewed. Not terrible but given that I have been reading at an average rate of 6.4 books per month this year, it’ll take me over 5 months to finish them all and I really just want to do a bit of mood reading.

So what am I going to do? Well, Bookstacks & Golden Moms – Bookstacks & Golden Moms (bookstacksngoldenmoms.com) have come to the rescue and are hosting this Summer Netgalley challenge! Running from 1st June to 31st August, this challenge aims to focus the mind on getting through that NG pile.

There are even levels! Using my handy stats above, I’d hope to read 19 books in this 3 month window and nudge my way into Beach Ball level. That’d make a really nice dent in the pile and I’d feel less guilty about picking up some of the books that keep making eyes at me from the book case.

I’ll provide an update in my monthly wrap-up but here’s hoping I can really get that % up by the end of the challenge.

WWW Wednesday – 2nd June 2021

WWW Wednesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by https://samannelizabeth.wordpress.com/category/books/www-wednesday/ and is a weekly blog prompt to answer the following questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

This will be my first WWW Wednesday post! Here goes……

What are you currently reading?

Plot Twist by Bethany Turner
Giant Days Vol 1 by John Allison

I’m about halfway through Plot Twist and I’m not sure what I make of it yet. It’s very easy to read at least and I expect I’ll finish it today or tomorrow.

Giant Days is a re-read for me. It’s finished now but I can’t remember where I got to so I’m starting from the beginning.

Despite being way past the age of the characters in it, I absolutely fell in love with Giant Days when I picked it up a few years ago. I can’t wait to spend time with these characters again.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Five Greatest Warriors by Matthew Reilly
I Know What I Saw by Imran Mahmood
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

True Crime Story is a Netgalley ARC and it was SO good! I’ve been having a bit of a crime fiction phase recently and this was a result of a requesting spree but I’m so glad I read it. I’ll be posting a full review nearer publication.

I only finished I Know What I Saw yesterday and initially felt a little disappointed with it. However, it’s lingered with me and on reflection, I think it was better than my initial reaction indicated. Again, I’ll be posting a review soon.

Finally, I just finished The Five Greatest Warriors. I first read Matthew Reilly when I was on holiday aged about 16 and he’s been a great source of escapism and adventure ever since. I started a re-read of this series last year when the 6th instalment was released and am hoping to get up to date by the time the 7th and final instalment is released later this year.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

These are both ARCs and I’ll be taking part in the blog tour for Mirrorland later this month. Once these two and Plot Twist are done, that will be all my June ARCs read. I can move onto July then and hopefully be making good progress on the Summer Netgalley Challenge!

I’d love to read any comments. Have you read any of those books? Are you hoping too?

Review: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

SYNOPSIS:

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans ­such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adrian Tchaikovsky is the author of the acclaimed Shadows of the Apt fantasy series, from the first volume, Empire In Black and Gold in 2008 to the final book, Seal of the Worm, in 2014, with a new series and a standalone science fiction novel scheduled for 2015. He has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and a British Fantasy Society Award. In civilian life he is a lawyer, gamer and amateur entomologist.

MY REVIEW:

I feel like I should set out my usual reading habits to give some insight as to my thoughts on this book. I’m pretty open to what genre I read in and tend not to favour any one genre, mostly listening out for buzz on books from fellow readers or going through stages of bingeing a particular genre for a few months or so. I’m certainly not a stranger to sci-fi fiction but I would say I’m more of a casual reader of it.

I picked up The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky last year and it was the first of the author’s work I’d read (I’m glossing over the fact that Children of Time has been on my TBR since the dawn of time). I enjoyed that book and so was very keen to take the opportunity to read Shards of Earth.

To cut to the chase….wow, this was great! It certainly takes you on an adventure and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The book throws us straight into the action. We’re on the front lines of a battle to stop the Architects from destroying Berlenhof, a planet at the heart of the colonies (the surviving human worlds following the destruction of Earth), with Solace and her sisters of the Parthenon and Idris, the fairly newly minted Intermediary. The scenes here are purely cinematic and I was gripped as we watched their desperate attempts to use Idris, this new “weapon” to beat back the Architect. 

Once we then move to the present day, we really start to get into the world that Tchaikovsky has built. It took me a while to get to grips with all the different species, the planets and their governments but there is helpfully a glossary, list of key players and timeline included in the book which is a good reference point for when you get too confused.

We get to know Idris and Solace and are introduced to the crew of the Vulture God and I LOVED them. They’re a bit of a ragtag bunch, with members of different species making up the crew. I got some Firefly vibes at first, but they soon disappeared as I got to know these characters and they made their own impression on me. Idris is quite a sad character at first, somewhat despondent and always seemingly on the edge of utter exhaustion and ripe to tip into insanity at any moment. We get to know his history and not only what he has been through but what he continues to be exposed to as he navigates his crew around space and unspace, the menacing place lurking just behind real space that Idris can guide the ship through to travel around quicker.

Solace is also an interesting character, seemingly more layered than the initial descriptions of her might suggest which becomes more and more apparent as she gets closer to being a fully fledged member of the crew. The rest of the crew too are great, I’d hope to see more of Kris in the sequel as she had an intriguing background.

This was an adventure story for me, following the most unlikely people who you would expect to be the ones trying to save….well, the universe. There are some creepy parts, some terribly sad parts and some humorous parts along the way.

I have friends who don’t read sci-fi, its not for them they say. But underneath all of the alien species, the strange planets and the spaceships, this is a story about people fighting to save life as they know it and fighting to save their friends and family.

I cannot wait for the next book to come out and I can see myself re-reading this one. I noticed that Sophie Aldred has narrated the audiobook version. I listened to her doing the audio of The Doors of Eden and thought she did a great job so might pick up the audio to catch myself up ahead of sequel coming out…..which I hope will be in the not to distant future!

5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher Tor and the author for an advance copy of the book, as well as The Write Reads tours.

Hello Book Bloggersphere!

I’ve finally bitten the bullet and joined you! Despite having signed up to WordPress for this blog years and years ago, I’ve never gotten round to actually writing something on it. I think I’ve been waiting until I could get it just the way I want it…..but there’s no better way to learn than to just get on with it.

I want this to be a place where I share not only book reviews but other posts that show my love for books.

I’m a big foodie, a massive film fan, I’m nuts about all things time travel related and I love a good quiz so I’ll no doubt be trying to shoehorn those things into my blog posts.

I like to read across various genres and wouldn’t say that I favour one in particular so my reviews will reflect that. I’d love to connect with other book bloggers and see what you’re all posting about.

Happy Reading!

Credit: Alexandra Fuller on Unsplash