#WWW Wednesday – July 25, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

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I didn’t post last week because it would literally have been a repeat of the week before’s post. This has not been a great reading month! Oh well.

What have you recently finished reading?

I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon over the weekend. I had intended to read it before we saw the stage show at the start of July but never got around to it. It’s a really fascinating book. I kinda wish I had made time to read it before the show since I knew exactly what was going to happen, but I still flew through and really enjoyed it.

What are you currently reading?

My reading has been a bit all over the place recently so I’ve got a few things on the go at once when I wouldn’t normally.

I am nearly halfway through the fourth Frey & McGray audio book, The Loch of the Dead. One of the issues I had with the third book, namely that Frey and McGray spend a lot of time apart and therefore aren’t bantering or bickering, is also an issue here. But this plot is at least a bit more interesting than the third one was.

I am also halfway through Alive! by Loren D. Estleman, which I picked up from the library purely because of the cover. And also because I’m an archivist and the main character is an archivist. The mystery is fairly straightforward but it is a good one for classic film buffs with all the trivia peppered through it.

I also started The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison just this afternoon while I was out and forgot to take Alive!, so I needed to read something on my phone. I think I will really enjoy this one. I am going to try to finish Alive! before I really commit to this one, though.

I am technically still reading Blackwing by Ed McDonald and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque but they’re on hold for a bit..

What do you think you will read next? 

I still have Beauty and the Werewolf  by Mercedes Lackey out from the library, so I think that will be next.

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re  interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP.

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Book Review: “A Mask of Shadows” by Oscar de Muriel

Title: A Mask of Shadows (Frey & McGray #3)
Author: Oscar de Muriel
Audio book narrator: Andy Secombe
Genre: historical fiction/mystery
Target age group: Adult
Dates read: 28/06/18 – 11/07/18
Rating: ★★

Review:

After thoroughly enjoying the first two Frey & McGray books, I was excited to start the next one . Sadly, as you can see from my rating, this one was rather disappointing in comparison.

Oscar de Muriel experiments with his form a bit in this book, and I didn’t think it really worked. Or maybe I’m just resistant to change Rather than just being a straight narrative, this book was in the form of a police report compiled at the end of an investigation. Alongside the usual first person narrative from Frey’s perspective, we also have fragments of Bram Stoker’s (yes, that Bram Stoker, more on that below) journal and letter fragments recovered at one point in the investigation, placed throughout the narrative, ostensibly where Frey thought they best fit.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews, one of the things that makes this series so enjoyable is the relationship between Frey and McGray. In this one, they spent far less time together, so there was so little delightful banter. When it did happen, it was great, but I wanted more. Much of the narrative in this book was just the two policemen interviewing suspects, and then re-interviewing them when someone else brings a new fact to life. By the time the culprit was revealed around the 85% mark, I was just plain bored.

One thing I have noticed in both the previous books, and again in this one, is that there aren’t many likeable female characters, which is a bit disappointing. I think the issue probably stood out more to me this time because I wasn’t enjoying the things that usually make up for it.

To be fair, de Muriel’s historical detail was meticulous. The book centres around the real life production of Macbeth mounted by the celebrated Henry Irving, and Irving, his leading lady, Ellen Terry, and their theatre manager and later author, Bram Stoker,  all feature prominently as characters. While the mystery is fabricated, of course, de Muriel had to invent very little about the historical figures themselves in order to weave the narrative around them. I found myself pausing the audio book to look up Wikipedia articles or YouTube videos about them to learn more.

Fortunately, I’ve seen some reviews from others who thought this book a bit lacklustre who assure me that the fourth installment is back to the standard of the first two. I have already listened to the first twenty minutes and it’s definitely a promising start, so I think this one was just an anomoly.

You can read my review of the first book in the Frey and McGray series, The Strings of Murder, here, and the second, A Fever of the Blood, here.


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#WWW Wednesday – July 11, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

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What have you recently finished reading?

I’m literally listening to the last half hour of  A Mask of Shadows, the third Frey and McGray novel by Oscar de Muriel, as I write this post. To be honest, it’s nowhere near as good as the first two books in the series and I can see why those reviewers for whom it was the first Frey & McGray book said they wouldn’t read any others. I still plan on finishing the series, though.

I posted by my review of Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner last Friday. Read it here.

What are you currently reading

I am still reading Blackwing by Ed McDonald. I haven’t been making a lot of time for reading, which is entirely my own fault, but I am liking it, despite going slowly. Because I’ve been listening to the Frey & McGray books, and because Galharrow, the MC in this book, is a loveable grump like McGray, I am hearing his narration entirely in Andy Secombe’s grumpy Scottish McGray voice. This is not a bad thing.

What do you think you will read next?

The fourth Frey & McGray book, The Loch of the Dead, became available earlier than I expected, so I have that ready to go. I’m hoping it’s back up to the standard of the first two.

I also checked out the adult SFF section at the library for once (I usually make a beeline for the YA section) and picked out a couple of Mercedes Lackey titles. I think I am going to try Beauty and the Werewolf first. Though Joust has a dragon on the cover and that is also very tempting. So we’ll see what I end up with.

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re  interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP here.

#WWW Wednesday – July 04, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

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What have you recently finished reading?

As predicted, I finished Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner last Wednesday night after my post. It was fun, and I have to admit the cliffhanger has me intrigued enough to consider reading the sequel, but it was not quite what I had hoped. My review is scheduled for this Friday.

Still, that was better than I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness, which is being pimped as the #LoveOzYA debut of 2018 and I just… did not like it at all. Well, I didn’t like the main character, but in a contemporary novel written in first person, that pretty much equates to not liking the book, too. Still,  it was a quick read and I received it an as ARC so I can’t complain too much.  Here’s my full review.

I also posted my review of Zombie Playlist by K. J. Chapman. Click here to read it.

What are you currently reading

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel is on hold while I listen to A Mask of Shadows, the third Frey and McGray novel by Oscar de Muriel. The format is a bit different to the first two books and that took a bit of getting used to. My favourite thing about this series is the banter between the two main characters and so far, they’ve been separated a lot in this one, so that’s a bit disappointing.

I am also reading Blackwing by Ed McDonald which was recommended to me by a friend. He’s quite picky about his fantasy, so I have pretty high hopes. It’s an industrialised fantasy world, not a straight medieval fantasy, which I am glad about, as I’m not in the mood for the latter. But this is intriguing so far.

No movement on All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque this week.

What do you think you will read next?

I’m still leaning towards The Olmec Obituary by L. J. M. Owens. Also, if you’re interested, I posted my planned July/August TBR here.  Let me know if you’ve read any on there!

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re  interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP here.

#WWW Wednesday – June 27, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

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What have you recently finished reading?

good reading week this week! I finished Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen. This was a good story but the writing style let it down a bit, I felt. I reviewed it here.

Then I finished A Fever in the  Blood by Oscar de Muriel, which I enjoyed a lot (review here). I recommend these to everyone who enjoys historical fiction and murder mysteries, but if on top of that you are also an audio book listener, definitely get the audio books! They are wonderful. I also read The Hunt, which is a short story set just before this book, but it is basically a slightly expanded account of an event which is described in A Fever of the Blood, so it felt a bit pointless. I’m glad it was a freebie on Kindle.

On Saturday I read Zombie  Playlist by  K. J. Chapman in one sitting, as it was a novella and easy to get through. I’m not the biggest fan of zombie fiction in general, but I enjoyed this one well enough, despite a few niggles. I’ll have a review up on Friday.

What are you currently reading?

I finally decided on Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel for this month’s Audible choice. I actually started at the top of my GoodReads TBR and kept going until I found one available on Audible. I’m about a quarter of the way through but haven’t really formed an opinion yet. There are different things going on and I can see how they all intersect but I assume things will fall into place as the story goes on.

I am still going with Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This is one of those occasions where the book is simply something different to what I was expecting, and that’s not the book’s fault, but it’s still disappointing, because I was pretty excited for what I was expecting. I’ll probably finish this tonight or tomorrow.

I made sure to read a few more chapters of  All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque on the weekend.  I’m actually surprised how readable it is, given both its age and the subject matter.

What do you think you will read next?

I’ll post a full July-August TBR on Sunday, but I think first up off that list my be The Olmec Obituary by L. J. M. Owens. I am way behind on this series, I think there are at least three books out now. And given some of the book takes place in a fictional versino of my workplace, I feel it’s really time I get on that.

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re  interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP here.

Book Review: “Orphan Monster Spy” by Matt Killeen

Title: Orphan Monster Spy
Author: Matt Killeen
Genre: historical fiction
Target age-group: YA
Dates read: 12/06/18 – 20/06/18
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This book had quite an interesting premise, but unfortunately the writing style prevented me from getting really invested.

Sarah is a Jew, despite inheriting her German father’s blond hair and blue eyes. After her mother dies, she is recruited by Captain Flynn, a British spy, to infiltrate an elite boarding school for the daughters of high-profile Nazis and steal the plans of a Nazi scientist.

The main reason I couldn’t get more into this story was the writing style felt very detached. Things were happening, but I felt a bit on the outside. I don’t know if this was a deliberate choice on the part of the author or just my own reading experience, but it made it hard to really get invested in Sarah.

There were also German words peppered throughout, particularly in the dialogue. I think this was probably supposed to immerse me in the setting more, but since I had to look up most of them on Google Translate, it pulled me out of the story. Technically, everything  the characters were saying was “in German”, even though I was reading it in English, so it didn’t really make sense to then actually have German words in there.

Still, the plot has a good basis in historical fact, and I think Matt Killeen did a good job of taking the history and crafting it into an interesting story. While I wasn’t that into it, I could still tell that the plot was building, and it does have a solid climax. I think the right reader will really enjoy it.

One last thing, and that’s  a content warning: there is a character who is a sexual predator, and having tired of his daughter, preys on other young girls. While this is kind of a spoiler, I guess, I know that there will be some readers who would prefer to know this before starting, and perhaps avoid.


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Book Review: “A Fever of the Blood” by Oscar de Muriel

Title: A Fever of the Blood (Frey & McGray #2)
Author: Oscar de Muriel
Audio book narrator: Andy Secombe
Genre: historical fiction/mystery
Dates read: 14/06/18 – 22/06/18
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

This book was just as fun as the last one, and de Muriel continues to build on the characters that he introduced us to in The Strings of Murder. Andy Secombe’s narration also continues to be incredibly entertaining.

The plot is well-paced, with some great action scenes that were particularly exciting in the audio book. I thought at one point I must have reached the climax, only to realise I was only at 65%. The actual climax actually did build from there, and the situation for many of the characters was difficult to guess, which kept me hooked.

The relationship between Frey and McGrey was once again the highlight. There is plenty of the banter that came out in book one, but there is also genuine conflict which I expect will play a part in the subsequent books.

Having said that, I did have a few criticisms. I felt this installment was a bit more reactive than the previous one. There were fewer clues for the detectives to follow; instead, a lot of the plot relied on them simply ending up in certain places at the right time. I also found that the antagonists who show up at about the 70% mark bordered on the comical and cartoonish at times.

Still, that can all be forgiven in the name of fun and entertainment. I am waiting to get my hands on the third audio book, which I hope is up to the same standard.

You can read my review of the first book in the Frey and McGray series, The Strings of Murder, here.


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#WWW Wednesday – June 20, 2018

Hello, everyone. Just a quick note before we get to the crux of today’s post. I’ve revitalised my Facebook author/blogger page recently, and am talking about what I’m reading as well as my own writing projects. If that sounds like something that might interest you, head on over to Emily Wrayburn and give it a like. 🙂 I’m also cross-posting a lot on Instagram, if that is more your jam.  And now, on with the show.

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

Nothing this week, though I am quite close to finishing some things. I did post my review of Uprooted by Naomi Novik on Friday, and you can read that here. As you may remember me saying last week, I didn’t love it in the end.

What are you currently reading?

I finally managed to make some progress with  Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen over the past couple of days. Another day or two should see me finished. I haven’t really been hooked with this one. The writing style is quite detached. And there are German words peppered throughout it which I have to keep looking up on Google Translate.

Fortunately, I have whizzed through the audio of A Fever in the  Blood by Oscar de Muriel, which I am enjoying just as much as the first book in the Frey and McGray series. I have the third audio book reserved on my digital library and it tells me it will be available on July 1.

I haven’t  continued with All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque this week. I will pick it up again soon.

What do you think you will read next?

Not really sure. I need to read something rollicking and fun, I think. I’ve been thinking maybe Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I went to a book talk with them when this was first released and it was a lot of fun, and I think it will be quite well-written, too, from the way they talked about their writing process. I haven’t had much patience for more trashy books of late, so I need something well done.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what I should use this month’s Audible credit on? I’m a new member so I only have two things in my wish list and neither of them are appealing to me right now.

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re  interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP here.

Book Review: “The Strings of Murder” by Oscar de Muriel

Title: The Strings of Murder (Frey & McGrey #1)
Author: Oscar de Muriel
Audio book narrator: Andy Secombe
Genre: historical fiction/mystery
Dates read: 06/05/18 – 19/05/18
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Well, this book was a whole lot of fun. It’s a cracking historical mystery, and the audio book is narrated with so much interesting variance that I often forgot I was listening to one person.

Jack The Ripper has London in a panic, and when a disemboweled body shows up in Edinburgh, Scotland Yard fears a copycat. Disgraced police officer Ian Frey is sent north to investigate, along with Scottish officer Adolphus McGrey. McGrey has his reasons for believing the case has a supernatural bent, and the two lock horns in a race against time to find the murderer.

The interactions between Frey and McGrey were definitely the highlight of this book for me. McGrey takes to calling Frey a “London lassie” and Frey is constantly sputtering in shock over the things that come out of McGrey’s mouth. McGrey’s unconventionial methods also clash with Frey’s by-the-book nature. The side characters are also well-drawn; I was able to form distinct opinions about all of them, even the characters we don’t see all that oftne.

The mystery itself was complex without being overly complicated. I felt some information did come out of the blue towards the end with very little to hint at it, but that was a small issue, really.

Andy Secombe is a masterful audio book narrator and I’m pleased to see he has also recorded the subsequent books in the series. His character voices are so varied that I did often have to remind myself there was only one person reading the story. I think this made the book even more entertaining. Reading “Och, shut up, ye London lassie” is one thing, but hearing it in a thick Scottish brogue is quite another.

I’m definitely intending to continue with this series, and recommend it to any fan of historical fiction.


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#WWW Wednesday – April 18, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

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I am back from Nepal! I had a great time, though the trek itself was quite challenging, physically and emotionally. But I had a fantastic group of people supporting me. Those 12 days went way too fast, but I am glad to be home.

What have you recently finished reading? 

I finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline before I went away.  I… look, there’s an okay YA dystopia in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find much of it. It was my first ever one star review! (Said review is full of spoilers, read at your own risk).

I also read The Sherlockian by Graham Moore prior to that. It was fine, but nothing special. I definitely enjoyed Graham Moore’s other novel more. I reviewed it here.

Remember how I was all  “I’m going to read so many books on the plane and have a super long post for you when I get home!”? Yeah, I read two. And one of them was super-short.

The first was Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. I had never read it before and I’m not sure if perhaps I missed the boat with it? I mean, I enjoyed it, but I think a lot of people probably have a certain amount of nostalgic love for it that comes from reading it when one is the same age as Anne Shirley.

I also picked up and read Folk Tales from Nepal by Kesar Lall at Pokhara airport. The English translation wasn’t brilliant but it was fun reading these stories while I was travelling around the locations where they took place.

What are you currently reading? 

At time of writing, I haven’t actually picked up The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon since the day before I left for Nepal. I wasn’t entirely into it. Coincidentally, one of the women in my group was reading it on the plane and she wasn’t that into it either, but we did both say we would see it through. .

What do you think you will read next?

I want to try and read something else off my March-April TBR before the end of the month. I am leaning towards Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie because I didn’t read that on my Jan-Feb TBR either… but I also have an ARC of Bookworm by Lucy Mangan, so I should probably read that soon… I don’t know. I’ll see what I’m in the mood for.

What are you reading this week?~ Emily