#WWW Wednesday – August 29, 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.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

Oh my god, I finally finished Blackwing by Ed McDonald! Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad book. It’s just grimdark fantasy is not really my thing. If it is your thing, you will probably love this book. I still enjoyed a lot of it, it just took me a long time to get through. I’ll try to review it soon.

I was very excited to receive an early copy of All The Little Bones, #1 in the Circus Hearts series by Ellie Marney, as part of a giveaway Ellie was running. I usually don’t lean towards YA fiction that is quite so heavy on the romance, but the writing sucked me in.  Also for various reasons, I’m really into circuses at the moment, so that probably helped. I’m going to have a review up of this on Friday,  in time for its release on Saturday.

I’m still behind on reviews but I’m slowly catching up. I posted my review of Loch of the Dead by Oscar de Muriel and Legion by Brandon Sanderson since my last WWW post.

What are you currently reading?

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel made me teary while I was listening to it on the bus today. I have already had two of my three favourite characters die, I didn’t need more emotional turmoil! But seriously, this book’s as good as the first in the series.

All The Little Bones distracted me from Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson, but I will get back to that now. This is somewhat interesting but I feel like the stakes will need to pick up or I’m not going to enjoy it as much as the first book.

What do you think you will read next?

I have White Night by Ellie Marney from the library so I will pick that up next. I actually didn’t finish the first Ellie Marney book I tried reading, but then I really liked the Circus Hearts book, so I’m hoping this experience will be closer to  that one.

I’ve also got Only Human, the last Themis Files book by Sylvain Neuvel, from the library, so I need to put it on my phone so I’m ready to pick it up.

What are you reading this week?~ Emily

Book Review: “Loch of the Dead” by Oscar de Muriel

Title: Loch of the Dead (Frey & McGray #4)
Author: Oscar de Muriel
Audio book narrator: Andy Secombe
Genre: historical fiction/mystery
Target age group: Adult
Dates read: 11/07/18 – 04/08/18
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I thought I’d lost interest in this series by about a third of the way through this book. I actually DNFed it at first, before realising that I did actually want to know how it ended, I just didn’t have the patience to listen to the audio book anymore. I still think the first two books in the series are the best, but I did find this an addictive race to the finish line, and definitely an improvement on the third book.

This fourth installment in the series sees Frey & McGray travel to the very north of Scotland, where McGray has been promised access to a potential cure for his sister in exchange for helping when a young boy is threatened.

The format in this book changed once again: while most of it was still in first person from Frey’s perspective, there were some chapters from McGray’s. These were in third person, and I didn’t always realise that the change had happened, so I got pulled out of the story when I suddenly realised the tone was a bit different and Frey wasn’t actually there. As I said in the previous book, my favourite part of this series is the Frey and McGray banter, and when they spend so much of an investigation apart that McGray needs his own chapters, that means the banter is probably not happening.

There were some great moments throughout the book, some that made me laugh out loud (it’s always wonderful when McGray witnesses Frey making a fool of himself), and the climax definitely had me turning the pages rapidly and staying up late to finish. I did think that the eventual villains of the piece were a bit cartoonish and over the top, but it did make for an exciting finish.

This is all there is of the Frey & McGray series for now, but I will definitely pick up any further instalments de  Muriel chooses to write.


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#WWW Wednesday – August 15, 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 participate in WWW Wednesday last week because I didn’t feel like much had changed in my reading  from the week previous. Plus I’m currently in the midst of a uni course, so I decided that for the next month or so, I need to alternate my Wednesday blog posts between my two blogs, rather than doing both.

So what have I been up to in the last fortnight?

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Loch of the Dead by Oscar de Muriel, the fourth in the Frey & McGray series and all there is of this series for now. I actually DNFed this about halfway through on audio but after a few days I realised I still wanted to know what happened, so I got hold of the paperback from the library. I’m glad I did finish it as it ended up being really addictive, if a little confusing.

I also finished  Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel on audio. This one took me a long time to warm to but at some in the second half I suddenly realised “Oh, I am actually invested in this, huh.” There’s not much plot, but it made me ponder on life’s big questions a lot. Not many books make me do that. I reviewed it here.

Then there was Legion by Brandon Sanderson, which I had read back in 2014 but forgotten the details of. It’s a really intriguing premise – that genius Steven Leeds cannot contain all the knowledge in his brain so it off-shoots into self-aware hallucinations that help him do things.  I actually reviewed this back in 2014 so it was interesting writing a new review and seeing how my feelings changed. That’ll be up on Friday.

And last but not least, just this evening I finished Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, which I recommend listening to if you are an audio book person because it takes the form of interviews and recordings. I really enjoyed this. It explores a lot of the geo-political situation that proof of ultra-intelligent alien life would create. And the unnamed interviewer is played by Andy Secombe, who also read the Frey and McGrey books, so it was interesting hearing him take on a quite different character.

What are you currently reading?

I am trying to finish Blackwing by Ed McDonald so I can give it back to my friend who loaned it to me. The second book is out now so he wants to re-read the first. It’s got a really intriguing plot, but there’s something about the pacing or maybe it’s the anti-hero main character. I just can’t get through much of it at once.

I also picked up The Fandom by Anna Day from the library, which I’ve had on my TBR since it came out. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those YA books where I get to the end and shake it and wish it had lived up to its potential. The characters only paid £10 for their photo-op at ComicCon, which makes me think the author doesn’t quite know enough about her subject matter. I also don’t think it’s going to be cleverly subversive like I was hoping. But I could be completely wrong.

What do you think you will read next?

I’ve  downloaded Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel and while I haven’t started it at time of writing, I am on the late shift at work tonight and will begin it while driving home.

legionskindeepcoverI also have White Night by Ellie Marney from the library, and my hold on Skin Deep, the sequel to Legion, came in today and I will pick it up tomorrow. So one of those will definitely be next.

What are you reading this week?~ Emily

#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.

wwwwednesday

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.

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.

wwwwednesday

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 – 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.

wwwwednesday

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: “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.

#WWW Wednesday – June 13, 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?

Let’s start with the good news first! I read a wonderful upper-MG/lower-YA book called Shine by Candy Gourlay.  This was a chance find at the library and I read it in one sitting. I have already reviewed it here. It felt like a modern folk-tale and while I had a couple of qualms about it, I couldn’t put it down.

I also finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik on audio during my bike ride home this evening. It started off strong but in the end, I didn’t love it as much as I hoped. It ended up dragging on a bit too long for me. 😦 I’ll try to have a review up this Friday.

Due to still feeling reading slumpy, I also got ruthless  with some DNFing this week. First it was Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. It sounds like the audio book is a lot better but I was reading the hardback and the tropey-ness and 21st century feminist attitudes in the 19th century setting just got too annoying after a while. I googled some spoilers and I have a feeling I would have felt very unsatisfied by the ending had I got there. So that was a relief.

Next I DNFed Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane, because it just wasn’t really my thing, and I turned to Twitter to seek out recommendations of Indigneous Australian authors writing YA and other things I generally enjoy reading.  No point in trying to diversify my reading if I end up giving 2 or 3 star ratings to everything and saying “this was fine, but not my cup of tea.”

What are you currently reading?

I have started All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. I am only three chapters in but I can definitely see why it is such a classic book. Having said that, I will probably go slowly with this and read it in between other things. (Which reminds me, I was supposed to be doing that with Dracula, too. I should get back to  that.)

I am also reading Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen, which is about a fifteen-year-old Jewish girl who infiltrates a Nazi boarding school. I’m only a few chapters in so far but I think it will probably be pretty full on. It doesn’t look like the author is going to pull any punches.

What do you think you will read next?

I am excited to start the audo of A Fever in the  Blood by Oscar de Muriel, which I picked up  from the library this afternoon and currently converting so I can put it on my phone. This is the sequel to The Strings of Murder, which I loved and reviewed here. This will tide me over until my Audible account ticks over into a new month and I can get another book on there.

Not sure what I’ll read physical book-wise. I am still feeling slumpy, dammit! It’s been a good six weeks! Though I have figured out this week that the key to getting reading done is to sit at one of the smaller tables in the break room, rather than the main one where I always end up just talking to people rather than reading. Maybe that will help?

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.