Top Ten Tuesday : Summer reading

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic :

Books On My Summer 2021 TBR

Okay, in my particular neck of the woods Summer runs from June 21st until September 22nd – yes, I looked those dates up and I literally cannot believe they are so specific!  But, having found them out I feel like I should stick to those dates.  So, this week is going to be more than 10 books – because I have quite a few books on my plate this Summer that I’m excited to share that fall in between these dates.  Here goes, all titles linked to Goodreads so you can check out the synopsis:

June

  1. The Witness for the Dead (The Goblin Emperor #2) by Katherine Addison

Witness

July

  1. The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd
  2. The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley
  3. Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey
  4. The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry
  5. The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
  6. The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente
  7. The Retreat by Elisabeth de Mariaffi
  8. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

August

  1. Mrs Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott
  2. Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce
  3. The Infernal Riddle of Thomas Peach by Jas Treadwell
  4. I Shot the Devil by Ruth McIver
  5. The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
  6. My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
  7. The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith

September

  1. Mastermind by Andrew Mayne

Mastermind

On top of this I will be continuing with my two buddy reads and also reading more of my SPFBO books – details to be revealed at the start of each month.

Are you looking forward to any of these?  What plans do you have for Summer reading?

Stranded (The Shorten Chronicles #1) by Rosalind Tate #SPFBO

SPFBO71024_1

Stranded is the first book in my first batch of books as part of the SPFBO Competition.

Stranded

This is historical fiction with light fantasy elements and a hint at romance not yet realised but slowly coming to fruition.

Sophie Arundel has arrived at University, with her pet dog Charlotte.  It’s her first day, she’s allocated a room and as she makes her way across campus she spots a former classmate – Hugo – although the two were from completely different circles and not exactly what you’d class as friends.  To cut a long story short, the two of them, plus the dog, after entering what they believed to be a lift, are taken back in time to an alternate history.  The lift was a portal that disappeared not long after dropping our two main characters into the middle of the countryside with little idea of when and where they were.

From here the book is predominantly about coming to terms with the different period, living in a world where social norms are much more restricted, trying not to offend everyone whilst at the same time as trying to figure out the mystery of the portal and how and when it might become available again, on top of which there is an unknown person who seems to be taking Sophie and Hugo’s meddling badly and is issuing threats.

In a nutshell I’d liken this to Pride and Prejudice (the characters) meets Downton Abbey (the setting) meets ‘insert cosy mystery of your choosing’.

After a slightly rocky start I found myself enjoying this.  The author clearly enjoyed writing a period style novel and, although I’m not an expert on the time, seems to have researched the time well – although, as this is an alternate history you need to exercise a little leeway because a number of events, highly significant to our own history and pertinent as driving forces of emancipation, have not occured and therefore certain elements are slightly skewed.

What shone through in particular from this was that the author enjoyed the period and telling a story that is descriptive in terms of setting, house and clothes etc.  In fact, I mentioned above that I found the start a little rocky and I think that could simply be because the author wasn’t quite in her element in a more modern setting and found her feet as soon as our characters were taken back in time.  I also enjoyed the other little nods – for example the dog being named for one of the Bronte sisters because of the main character’s love for Jane Eyre.

The setting.  1925, grand house, upper class family.  You could be forgiven for thinking that Sophie and Hugo have fallen on their feet as they’re lavished with attention, clothing, food, events, etc.  In fact this is where the Downton Abbey comparison came from.  It really does have a feel of that particular drama and I’m not pointing that out as a criticism as such, more a simple observation that at times this almost feels like an alternate style fanfic.

The plot.  Well, as the story begins we pretty soon learn that a number of people have also come through the portal, in fact the ‘Lady of the Manor’ herself and indeed the local landlord and the head gardener at the house are all from similar modern backgrounds.  Sophie and Hugo spend some  time trying to figure out what links the travellers in particular but to be honest the mystery of the portal plays second fiddle to the developing friendship (potentially budding romance) between Sophie and Hugo and the ever increasing number of faux pas made by Sophie as she tries to come to terms with the restraints of the period – the corsets being the least of her problems.  As I mentioned this is an alternate reality and certain ‘key’ events have not taken place leaving our travellers with the dilema, should they be unable to return to their own lives, of having an uncertain history ahead of them.  On top of this someone, unknown, is taking an interest in their investigations and sending warning notes.

The characters.  I struggled a little to really like Sophie.  I feel a little unfair saying that because she isn’t a bad character so much as slightly annoying in that for someone who has travelled to an alternate place she seems to have very little self control or self preservation.  She is constantly blundering around offending people willy nilly – okay, I think it might have been a lot more useful if the lady of the house had sat her down and outlined some of the pitfalls, but, even with that lack of guidance you would think Sophie might have acted a little more cautiously.  Hugo on the other hand, and quite in contrast to how he seemed initially, seems to be a studious fellow with an infinite knowledge of the period therefore much more comfortable when it comes  to fitting in – not to mention, let’s be honest, men didn’t suffer the same restrictions really, particularly in terms of reputation.

As I mentioned the author is clearly comfortable writing an historic style novel.  She certainly got her teeth into the period and it was obvious that she enjoyed writing this.  The pacing is fairy even and I had no problem with forging ahead.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, firstly, although this is a portal story and alternate history it’s very light on fantasy.  The main element of the story seems to be about Sophie’s struggles to fit in and even the mystery is relegated to the background.  I’m not really sure why the author felt the need to include a dog in the story.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore dogs and I’m always happy to have them included when and wherever possible but this felt more like a plot device not to mention a little unrealistic at times in both the way Sophie behaved and her expectations in terms of the dog.  There is also an element of Sophie and Hugo struggling very little indeed.  They definitely landed on their feet being treated like favourite visitors and lavished with attention – which is probably why I railed against Sophie so much.  She could have found herself in a totally different situation by mere fluke, perhaps a scullery maid for example, getting up in the early hours to light fires, etc, instead of being drawn baths and helped to dress by her very own lady’s maid.  I don’t know, the fact that neither character seemed to have any real regard for how lucky they seemed to have been, or how very precarious their situation could have been irritated me slightly.  Finally, the mystery feels a little like an afterthought, the characters don’t seem to have any urgency at all about getting back ‘home’ in fact they both become very settled with almost indecent haste.   Also, if you’re picking this up expecting romance then be warned that this is very subtle, clearly the two main characters are becoming attached but there is no real romance at this point.

Okay, criticisms aside, this is an easy to read, cosy, period mystery.  I would describe this as charmingly easy. It’s perhaps not a book that I would instantly pick up off the shelves but I had no problem reading this one.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing this last year but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Last week:

I went off plan a little bit this week and read the first three of my SPFBO books.  Hopefully reviews will be forthcoming this week.  I’ve read a little more of For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten which I will complete this week, also hoping to complete my fourth SPFBO book. My two buddy reads have suffered a little as a result. I’m hoping to delve back into First Law later today and then I’ll be starting my third Discworld book.  I’ve had an awful cold this week which in some ways slowed me down but at the same time gave me a little more down time for reading.  

 

Complete For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten.  Read my fourth SPFBO book.  I still have a few more review books this month so hopefully think about which to pick up next.

 

  1. Wendy, Darling by AC Wise
  2. Day Zero by C Robert Cargill

 

Forthcoming Reviews:

  1. Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
  2. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  3. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  4. Deathborn by CE Page

Friday Face Off : Covers that make you rant

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

Small update – I’m still catching up with blog hopping and I haven’t even started on comments on my own blog.  I have read them all just not got back to everyone at the moment.  I’ve been catching up with reviews and review books – or at least trying, I’ve caught a wicked cold and I don’t mind telling you it’s wiped me out.  One day I will be fully caught up – one day very soon *fingers crossed*.

This week’s theme:

A cover that annoyed you and why

I have a few things that make me go on a rant about book covers.  For the most part I’m very positive about covers and love sharing but there are a couple of things that really wind me up.  Titles or author names being almost illegible/invisible.  Huge banners that cut out most of the artwork, covers that are baffling because they don’t depict the content at all or misrepresent it somehow and – books with stickers on the covers.  I do understand why publishers use the stickers and the desire to shout things from the rooftops, but, I’d go a long way to avoid buying a book with a sticker on it – it used to be that those stickers, were actual stickers and you could at least remove them (although not always successfully) but these days, they’re printed onto the cover.  Argh!!!!

Anyway, to the covers – and for the record, these are covers that I like – I just don’t like the stickers:

Anyway, no favourite this week.  Just a little medley of covers – that I like (for the record) – but that annoy me because of the stickers.  I know, I need to just chill out don’t I?

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next week – Out of perspective/makes you feel a bit dizzy

2021

June

18th – Out of Perspective, or make you feel a bit dizzy

25th – Upside down, back to front or topsy turvy

July

2nd – A book with a landscape you’d like to visit

9th – A Wicked Grin

16th – Books with ‘book’ in the title

23rd – A Black Hole – could be in the universe or going deep into the ground

30th – Chaos – maybe too much going on in this one

August

6th – “They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, os so very delicately!” – The Motel

13th – A favourite holiday read

20th – Dressed to kill (could be literally someone dressed to kill, or someone dressed up for a big night out

27th – Sunbathing or on the beach

September (RIP event)

3rd – 1920s feel, noir detective

10th – I’m Henry the Eighth I am – let’s look at Kings or other Emperors/rulers

17th – Books with ‘Murder’ in the title

24th – A favourite thriller

October

1st – A Halloween read

8th – Chills – anything at all that almost makes you too scared to pick up the book (your own pet hate)

15th – Your favourite book of magic

22nd – Books with ‘Queen’ in the title

29th – Must be gothic

November – Sci Fi Month

5th – Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed

12th – A book with ‘star’ in the title

19th – Futuristic vista

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

Day Zero by C Robert Cargill

Posted On 10 June 2021

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 5 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : I absolutely loved this book

Day ZeroIn a nutshell this is an incredibly entertaining story about one small boy and his tiger bot nanny.  It has just about everything you could want from such a story. It takes a look at issues such as slavery and artificial intelligence whilst at the same time exploring loyalty.  There are plenty of fun moments which help to offset the bloodshed and horror, lots of action and underneath that a very touching and heartfelt story about the love between a young boy and his plush anthropomorphic tiger.  What more could you possibly want.

I won’t elaborate too much on the plot.  This is a prelude to the wonderful Sea of Rust by the same author.  Rest assured that it isn’t necessary to have read that book before picking this up (although it is very good so why deny yourself the pleasure of reading it?)  This is a standalone novel with a self contained story in which we discover how the post apocalyptic world from Sea of Rust actually came about – and it’s a harsh story indeed that eventually concludes with humans wiped from the face of the earth.

As the story begins we meet Pounce.  I have to say that I adore Pounce, but more of that in a little while.  Pounce is coming to terms with the worrying notion that once his ‘charge’, Ezra, grows up, his role in the Reinhart household will no longer be necessary.  This hadn’t occurred to him until he found the box in which he was delivered stashed away in the attic and questions why the box was kept – obviously to return him once he’s no longer needed.  Pounce is shocked and a little sad, he loves his family and they love him don’t they?  Or is he just a robot, purchased to serve a purpose?  This is when Pounce begins to question things and become more aware of events taking place around him, a general sense of unease, tensions between humans and AI and a groundbreaking case where an AI known as Issac is given his freedom. Long story short – things are about to get real, by which I mean everything is going to kick off.

There are so many reasons that I loved this.

The writing is fantastic, Cargill is excellent at describing action scenes and also quite masterful at pulling you into the story immediately.  His sense of timing is perfect.  We no sooner meet the family and start to ponder Pounce’s dilema than the plot moves forward, again and again and before you know it you’re in the middle of the most unexpected adventure.  And I can’t deny that the adventure and action are just great.  It does have a sort of popcorn feel to it because things move along at a swift clip but there is also the thought provoking moments that continue to play a role in an ever evolving way and I love the shout outs to Asimov that are included here.  This might not be quite as deep as Asimov’s take on the theme but it is nonetheless really entertaining and a story that I think would make a great adaptation to the big screen.

The characters.  The main characters are Pounce and Ezra and they are a fantastic team to follow.  Kind of put me in mind of the second Terminator film with the young John Connor.  Ironically, at 8 years of age, the family were starting to consider whether or not Ezra still needed a nanny, thankfully that decision hadn’t been made before the uprising began and that’s probably the biggest piece of luck that Ezra ever had.  There’s so much more to Pounce than a plush and loyal tiger AI although I won’t say exactly why here because it’s such a woohoo moment when you discover his hidden talents.  The thing I particularly loved about Pounce was the time he took to explain things to Ezra and the way he treats him, even though he’s questioning his own choices at this point or more to the point how he came to make those choices, Pounce always has time for Ezra.  There are moments of pure tenderness between the two and those moments together with the humour that Cargill manages to throw in really help to offset the somewhat blood fuelled horrorfest when the AIs go on the rampage.  There are also a bunch of extra characters that come into play that I also really loved.

The other thing that I’m really hopeful about, given the ending, is that maybe Cargill has something more in store for this world – I have my fingers and toes crossed for that eventuality of course, that could be just plain wishful thinking on my part, not to mention I can sometimes be quite wide of the mark when it comes to second guessing things – but nothing wrong with a bit of speculation crossed with a bit of hope.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 of 5 stars

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