Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski (Six Stories #1)

Six Stories: A Thriller: 1: Amazon.co.uk: Matt Wesolowski: 9781910633625:  BooksPages: 320

Rating: 2 stars

Time taken: 3 days

Format: E-book from own TBR

Synopsis:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.


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So the 2 star rating for this wasn’t really the best start for 2021. Now I know a lot of people love this and I can understand why as I was interested in the story and the premise.

However, sometimes there’s something in a book that you catch and you can’t get past it and it just gets worse and worse, and for that was the massive consent issues. An argument could be made that maybe the comments weren’t meant in that way but for me the author wrote something into the storyline that he needed for the plot (I argue otherwise) and it put a character in a bad light and he didn’t want that so tried to get around that.

In doing so he created dubious consent with added drug and alcohol abuse with one character actively plying another with drugs and having pre-meditated the situation. Then further to that he engaged in victim blaming whereby the other characters took it out on the victim and finally he forced the character that was a victim to say she regretted it immediately but that she consented to it (which is just an aggressive and frankly terrible way to try and get around the issue). It continued throughout and I don’t feel it was necessary but instead was acting as a potential motive.

I think if it was going to be included then there should have not been the forceful commentary that the reader should just ignore it and instead have addressed the problematic element more openly and stopped that issue going any further.

On to the positives, the story was interesting and I loved the format. There was a horror element to the story and it got a bit into ghost and monster stories and it wasn’t the main aspect so it was fine.

The author does deceive you in this and if you’ve been around before you know I hate that in books. An element in this was just so implausible and I don’t really get why it was done and again felt like the author wrote himself into a bit of a whole and didn’t know how to get out of it and ended up having to suspend our disbelief.

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I do think that element was fully resolved in this book and as so it shouldn’t continue on and I am interested in the future books by the author and in this series as I do really like the writing style and love the podcast element.

I don’t think there are any likeable characters in this but I do think they’re plausible and real enough to enjoy the characterisation elements. This book was also compelling as it was a cold case essentially so seeing the character discussing themselves at the time and later in life was something I enjoyed.

There is an element of foreshadowing really early on that makes the killer and motive quite clear and it’s not hard to spot. It was laid on too thick I think and hopefully it’s less apparent in the future novels so there’s more of a mystery.

I was fine with the ending and I like that it was a perfectly neatly wrapped story. It does contain the deception element and that really let it down for me because I wasn’t shocked but instead was just cynical and it ruined a lot of the story for me but it’s something you can move past for the future novels.

I apologise to everyone that loves this and gave it 5 stars as I know there are a lot of you out there but hopefully you can bare with me as I look to pick up the sequels.

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Weekly Reading Catch Up 18th January

Another week down and I’ve had one hell of a reading week. I’ve just been in the mood to read and I’ve finished 4 books this week which is kind of insane to me. I will admit that 2 of these were ones I had started but I still read them so let’s bring those wee judgemental eyebrows down.

The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.): 1:  Amazon.co.uk: Abercrombie, Joe: 9780575079793: BooksI firstly really pushed myself to finish The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie and I’m still undecided as to how I really feel about it. I think this really felt like a prequel rather than the first book in a series for the first 75% and then things start to kick into action and I’ve become a bit more invested.

There is a really strong male gaze and perspective in this and I think I really struggled to come around to it but by the end I was finally getting invested in the story and magic and I am looking forward to picking up the sequels but I’m not desperate if that makes sense.

30 Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives | Books, Galaxy  book, Hitchhikers guide to the galaxyI then listened to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam as Aaron over on Sword & Spectres really recommended it and honestly Stephen Fry is who you need in your time of need. I was crying myself laughing listening to this in particular at one scene and it was just an uncontrollable laughter where having the audiobook things were continuing on and I kept laughing more and more hysterically.

I really recommend this just for that. Just to have the joy in reading and have a bit of laughter in your life. This does feel like it’s a 40 year old book and definitely more of the classic sci-fi but some things are just classically funny.

From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash, #1) by Jennifer L. ArmentroutI also buddy read From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout with a couple of friends and I went into this really sceptical not fully knowing anything apart from it being a fantasy romance. But I was pleasantly surprised by it and I’m hooked. I think there were still a few eye-roll worthy elements but if you want to pick up some fantasy romance and are maybe a fan of Sarah J Maas’s ACOTAR series then this could honestly been a consideration for you.

I desperately wanted to pick up the sequel but as I’m buddy reading it I’m trying to hold off but if I can pick up book 3 on release in April then that would be really cool.

Rhapsodic (The Bargainer Book 1) eBook: Thalassa, Laura: Amazon.co.uk:  Kindle StoreAs I still had that bit of a sci-fi romance itch then I finally went back to Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa and finished that off. I basically stopped right at the climax of the story so it wasn’t really the best time to stop but I got back into the swing of it quickly. It’s an interesting fad/siren romance but spends too much time in the past for my enjoyment. It’s also a bit more dark if that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for but I don’t know how much I would recommend it.

Embers of War: Amazon.co.uk: Gareth L. Powell: 9781785655180: BooksThis week I’m planning on going back to Ember’s War by Gareth L Powell as I put that down as I had to pick up on From Blood and Ash but I got through the beginning of it and really hoping it continues to be as good as it has been. It pretty much instantaneously captured my attention and I really want to read more sci-fi and my library has a great selection of sci-fi I’ve never heard of and that’s often the best thing.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart - Pan MacmillanI’m hoping that Ember’s War won’t take me too long and I’ll be able to pick up Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart which if you don’t know was the 2020 Booker Prize winner. That has me interested but on top of that when I seen the cover I immediately thought it looked like my hometown of Glasgow. When I’ve read into it is actually set in the South side of Glasgow in the ’90s and it’s not my era but is where I grew up so I’m not sure how emotional a journey it could be for me but I don’t think books like that come around very often so don’t want to miss out on it.

 


Hopefully your reading is going well. Let me know what you’ve been picking up this week.

Series to Start and Finish in 2021 – YA Fantasy Part 1

This is a mini series I’m doing at the beginning of the year to recommend some series you ‘should’ be able to start and finish in the year.

I know a lot of people have a lot of series on the go and are maybe still wanting to add to their TBR so I can recommend the massive series out there but thought it would be a fun twist to look back and see what I started and finished in the span of twelve months.

I did not read all these series at once and it has been spread over 3-5 years of my reading history. I am mainly an adult sci-fi and fantasy reader having moved over from YA in the last 3 years so I haven’t covered everything and would love any recommendations you may have.

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The Conqueror’s Saga by Kiersten White

Synopsis:

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

Number of books: 3

Average page count: ~460 pages

Recommended for: Anyone looking for a dark and twisted retelling of Vlad the Impaler except Vlad is female. It’s also got a lot of interesting points and events from the Ottoman time period and you’ll pick up a surprising amount of facts even though this is a re-telling.

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Lady Helen by Alison Goodman

Synopsis:

London, April 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her curtsey to Queen Charlotte and step into polite Regency Society. Unbeknownst to Helen, that step will also take her from the glittering ballroom of Almack’s and the bright lights of Vauxhall Gardens into a shadowy world of demonic creatures, missing housemaids and deadly power.

Standing between those two worlds is Lord Carlston, a man of dubious reputation and infuriating manners. He believes Helen is destined to protect humanity, but all he can offer is danger, savagery and the possibility of madness. Not the kind of destiny suitable for a young lady in her first London Season. This delightfully dangerous adventure of self-discovery and difficult choices has all the unnerving dark magic of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and the swashbuckling action of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Number of books: 3

Average page count: ~520 pages

Recommended for: If you enjoy the Regency era but also enjoy fantasy then this is the perfect blend of historical fiction and fantasy to enjoy. It does have the mystery around demons and having to fight them which is quite compelling and I just really enjoyed this series and think it’s vastly underrated.

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Blogger's Bookshelf: Rebel of the Sands series | Alwyn Hamilton | Review

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Synopsis:

The first in the highly acclaimed trilogy packed with shooting contests, train robberies, festivals under the stars, powerful Djinni magic and an electrifying love story. WINNER of the 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Debut Author. “Tell me that and we’ll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand.” Dustwalk is Amani’s home. The desert sand is in her bones. But she wants to escape. More than a want. A need. Then a foreigner with no name turns up to save her life, and with him the chance to run. But to where? The desert plains are full of danger. Sand and blood are swirling, and the Sultan’s enemies are on the rise.

Number of books: 3

Average page count: ~500 pages

Recommended for: Exploration out of the traditional European fantasy and instead focusing on Djinn and magic. I also think that this has a fun twist as you’re not following the chosen one but instead someone on the fringes.

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Magnus Chase Comes to JORVIK | JORVIK Viking Centre

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan

Synopsis:

My name is Magnus Chase. I’m orphaned and living rough on the streets of Boston. And things are about to get much worse.

My day started out normally enough. I was sleeping under a bridge when some guy kicked me awake and said, ‘They’re after you.’ Next thing I know, I’m reunited with my obnoxious uncle, who casually informs me that my long-lost father is a Norse god.

Nothing normal about that. And it turns out the gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Apparently, if I can’t find the sword my father lost two thousand years ago, there will be doom. Doomsday, to be precise.

A fire giant attacking the city?

Immortal warriors hacking each other to pieces?

Unkillable wolves with glowing eyes?

It’s all coming up.

But first I’m going to die. This is the story of how my life goes downhill from there…

Number of books: 3

Average page count: ~490 pages

Recommended for: Any fans of Rick Riordan but also people looking to pick up something by him. It is one of his shorter series and has the fun mythology of the Norse religion and looking at how it’s changed in the modern times and worked it’s way into modern America.

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Would love to know if you’ve read any of these or have any recommendations.

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett (Discworld #18)

Maskerade: Discworld: The Witches Collection (Discworld Hardback Library):  Amazon.co.uk: Terry Pratchett: 9781473200289: BooksPages: 320

Rating: 5 stars

Time taken: 3 days

Format: Physical from own TBR

Synopsis:

THE SHOW MUST GO ON, AS MURDER, MUSIC AND MAYHEM RUN RIOT IN THE NIGHT…

The Opera House, Ankh-Morpork… A huge, rambling building, where innocent young sopranos are lured to their destiny by a strangely familiar evil mastermind in a hideously deformed evening dress…

At least, he hopes so. But Granny Weatherwax, Discworld’s most famous witch, is in the audience.

And she doesn’t hold with that sort of thing.

So there’s going to be trouble (but nevertheless a good evening’s entertainment with murders you can really hum…)

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This is really the best run of Discworld books and I’m having such a great time picking them up. This story really focuses on the witches and the struggling dynamic of only having 2 witches instead of the traditional 3.

At the same time we are also at the theatre which is struggling as they try and keep the show going in the wake of the ghost killing off different crew and cast members.

There are so many fun elements in here and it just feels like we are all on a journey to having a good time. That’s quite a strange thing to write considering all the killing going along.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax and having Nanny having some money and a little bit of fame. There’s so many silly things going along and the bickering between them but that intense friendship that can probably never be broken.

I’m not quite sure about Agnes and think she is quite reserved and within her shell and just trying to find herself. I’m hoping that we will get a bit more from her in future books and I’ll be able to see her develop a bit more and gain a bit more character.

Weekly Reading Catch Up 11th January

So my first reading catch up of 2021. I hope you’re all safe and well and just remember that your best is good enough. That can be related to your work or goals or reading so I hope you all have a good year and just as Anxious People by Fredrik Backman has taught me this week, “you tackle things the way you tackle eating an elephant – bit by bit”.

When the Hangman Came to Galway: A Gruesome True Story of Murder in  Victorian Ireland: Amazon.co.uk: Dean Ruxton: 9780717180851: BooksI’ve had a really good reading week this week and finished 4 books for the year and I think I’ve found a new favourite of all time.

I finished off When the Hangamn Came to Galway by Dean Ruxton which is a non-fiction novel about the life of the Crown Executioner James Berry and about hangings and capital punishment during Victorian Britain and Ireland. IT also introduces some different cases and two that make the namesake of this book.

I want to push myself to read non-fiction and I was intrigued by the title but wasn’t sure what it was going to be but I’m really happy that I picked it up because I learned quite a lot and it’s done in a really accessible style especially if you want to pick it up on audiobook.

Sadie: A Novel: Amazon.co.uk: Summers, Courtney: BooksI then blitzed through Sadie by Courtney Summers and I cannot expressed how much I loved this book. I honestly don’t think I could have asked for more and it’s easily my favourite book I’ve read since Normal People by Sally Ronney that I read back in May 2020. This is quite an emotionally impactful story and you’re not going to really get any happy fluffy moments and it will weigh on your conscience.

This might not be for everyone but if you’re looking for a thriller that takes place after a girl goes missing and a podcast trying to follow her trial and report her story where there is back and forth with the girl, Sadie, and what she’s actually doing then this could be for you.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman | Linda's Book BagI also started and finished up Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. This is the author of one of my favourite and most impactful books of all time, Beartown. I honestly think people should try and it is definitely a book that will be designated reading for any potential offspring of mine.

Anxious People wasn’t my favourite and was a bit preachy and a bit on the nose around the difficulties of adulthood and the disconnect parents and children can have and how modern society works. It follows a botched hostage situation essentially and is a bit of a mystery and that’s the key thread you have through the story but it’s more about the lives of the group of strangers that are being held hostage and the back robber and police officers involved.

It’s not something I would say you have to read but if you spot it at your library then it’s worth picking up and trying out.

The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.): 1:  Amazon.co.uk: Abercrombie, Joe: 9780575079793: BooksMy plans for the week are trying to read the Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. I am almost halfway through but I’m really struggling with it. It’s a lot more political that I realised and normally that’s not too bad but I’ve not figured out where the story is going or the plot of the series yet. I am also having a hard time with the male perspectives in this and I got to the first female character perspective and I’m hoping we spend a good amount of time with her as she’s the first person I’m really intrigued in.

I think there’s some hope for Logan but I think I’m going to be waiting until he’s finally fully incorporated into things.

From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash, #1) by Jennifer L. ArmentroutI’m also on the wait list for From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout that I will hopefully be picking up. I’m doing this as a bit of a buddy read with a couple of friends so hopefully I enjoy that as it is a bit different to what I would normally be reading.


Let me know how your 2021 is going and if you have any goals (reading or otherwise) please feel free to share.

Series to Start and Finish in 2021 – Adult Sci-Fi

This is a mini series I’m doing at the beginning of the year to recommend some series you ‘should’ be able to start and finish in the year.

I know a lot of people have a lot of series on the go and are maybe still wanting to add to their TBR so I can recommend the massive series out there but thought it would be a fun twist to look back and see what I started and finished in the span of twelve months.

I did not read all these series at once and it has been spread over 3-5 years of my reading history. I am mainly an adult sci-fi and fantasy reader having moved over from YA in the last 3 years so I haven’t covered everything and would love any recommendations you may have.

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Wayfaerers by Becky Chambers

Synopsis:

As she woke up in the pod she remembered three things. First, she was travelling through open space. Second, she was about to start a new job, one she could not screw up. Third, she had bribed a government official into giving her a new identity file. None of this information was new, but it wasn’t pleasant to wake up to.

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much.

The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer.

The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years…if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.

But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

Number of books: 3 (4th coming out 2021)

Average page count: ~400 pages

Recommended for: For sci-fi fans looking for some interesting theories but also less experience sci-fi fans that enjoy character relationships and dynamics. This is a great story for sci-fi being something different giving a great blend between technical sci-fi elements but with a focus on how that affects individuals and different social commentary woven throughout.

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Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel

Synopsis:

What happens when you make a discovery that changes everything?

Deadwood, USA. A girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit, she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see something far stranger.

That girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklyn, a brilliant scientist and the leading world expert on what she discovered.

An enormous, ornate hand made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human civilisation on the continent.  An object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery humanity has ever faced.

Solving the secret of where it came from – and how many more parts may be out there – could change life as we know it.

Number of books: 3

Average page count: ~380 but reads more like <300 due to format

Recommended for: Anyone looking for an Earth based research heavy sci-fi regarding a what-if alien scenario. Also for fans of a different style as this is mainly focussed on an interview style format.

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The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett

Synopsis:

1916: the Western Front.

Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No Man’s Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin.

Cop Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive (some said mad, others dangerous) scientist when she finds a curious gadget – a box containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a…potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way Mankind views his world for ever.

Number of books: 5

Average page count: ~460 pages

Recommended for: This is a series that really hard to explain but it’s mostly Earth based with a mechanism that allow people to move east or west to parallel worlds of earth. It’s just basically a master class of two incredible writers exploring the limitations of sci-fi and absurdism.

You can feel Pratchett in this but it isn’t like his other works and comes through in a very different manner. If I could forget this series and do it all over again then I would love to.

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Planetside by Michael Mammay

Synopsis:

War heroes aren’t usually called out of semi-retirement and sent to the far reaches of the galaxy for a routine investigation. So when Colonel Carl Butler answers the call from an old and powerful friend, he knows it’s something big-and he’s not being told the whole story. A high councilor’s son has gone MIA out of Cappa Base, the space station orbiting a battle-ravaged planet. The young lieutenant had been wounded and evacuated-but there’s no record of him having ever arrived at hospital command.

The colonel quickly finds Cappa Base to be a labyrinth of dead ends and sabotage: the hospital commander stonewalls him, the Special Ops leader won’t come off the planet, witnesses go missing, radar data disappears, and that’s before he encounters the alien enemy. Butler has no choice but to drop down onto a hostile planet-because someone is using the war zone as a cover. The answers are there-Butler just has to make it back alive…

Number of books: 3 so far

Average page count: ~360

Recommended for: Anyone looking for a military sci-fi or looking for a detective sci-fi with a heavy military feel to it. Also for those that love jumping in after someone’s older and had their career and major life milestone.

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Villains by V E Schwab

Synopsis:

Victor and Eli, due to a research project gone wrong, become ExtraOrdinaries with supernatural powers. Ten years later Victor escapes from prison, determined to get his revenge on the man who put him there, while Eli has spent the years hunting down and killing other EOs. Driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the arch-nemeses have set a course for revenge…

Number of books: 2

Average page count: Book 1 – 350, book 2 – 600

Recommended for: People looking for a take on superhero and supernaturals with a very dark undertone where the good guy isn’t good but he’s just less bad than the other.

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Colonyside by Michael Mammay (Planetside #3)

See the source imagePages: 384

Rating: 5 stars

Time taken: 2 days from release

Format: E-book from own TBR

Synopsis for Planetside which is Book 1 in the series:

A seasoned military officer uncovers a deadly conspiracy on a distant, war-torn planet…

War heroes aren’t usually called out of semi-retirement and sent to the far reaches of the galaxy for a routine investigation. So when Colonel Carl Butler answers the call from an old and powerful friend, he knows it’s something big-and he’s not being told the whole story. A high councilor’s son has gone MIA out of Cappa Base, the space station orbiting a battle-ravaged planet. The young lieutenant had been wounded and evacuated-but there’s no record of him having ever arrived at hospital command.

The colonel quickly finds Cappa Base to be a labyrinth of dead ends and sabotage: the hospital commander stonewalls him, the Special Ops leader won’t come off the planet, witnesses go missing, radar data disappears, and that’s before he encounters the alien enemy. Butler has no choice but to drop down onto a hostile planet-because someone is using the war zone as a cover. The answers are there-Butler just has to make it back alive…

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I totally forgot this was coming out so was very excited on the 29th December to wake up to my email letting me know my pre-order was now available to read and what a time I had. I put off my favourite books of the year as I was so paranoid that I was going to fins something that I loved and then hadn’t put it in there and this was the book.

I think this is a relatively unknown series and I think that’s a bit of shame as it’s turning into one of my favourite sci-fi series. I picked up the first book randomly from my library when I needed an audiobook to listen to when driving. I never knew military sci-fi was my thing but it’s something I now try and seek out but haven’t found a better example of.

I loved book 1 in this series and was disappointed by book 2 as it went in a direction where things were more set up and engineered for our main character Butler. However, book 3 really brought back the first books vibes and just gave him a planet with some politics afoot with the brief to find out what happened to a missing girl.

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And that’s exactly what this book did. It brought through some of the consequences most heavily from the previous book and weaved in how they had changed the state of plan in colonisation and the different barriers that are now set up in the pursuit of creating a new world for people.

There are quite a lot of different groups and characters in this that Butler needs to navigate around but we do get some of his past companions looking out for him. I found it interesting getting to see how each party has a job and a goal to achieve and how things never seem to line up between them when they’re meant to be working together and that where all the fun things exist.

The ending to this was a bit insane and farfetched but I had a good time and was reasonably happy with where things wrapped up. I was also really excited to see that I think there are another 2 books in this series planned and I’m looking forward to seeing where Butler goes next and what new thing he’s going to be getting dragged into.


I would love to know if you’ve read this series or if you would plan to. Also, if you have any military sci-fi recommendations then I would love that!

Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien De Castell (Greatcoats #4)

See the source imagePages: 608

Rating: 4 stars

Time taken: ~2 weeks

Format: E-book from own TBR

Synopsis for Book 1 – Traitor’s Blade:

The Greatcoats – legendary heroes, arbiters of justice . . . or notorious traitors?

The Greatcoats are travelling magistrates bringing justice to all . . . or at least they were, before they watched the Dukes impale their King’s head on a spike. Now the land’s heroes are reviled as traitors, their Greatcoats in tatters.

Facio, Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as mercenaries, but when they find their employer dead – and are forced to watch as the killer plants evidence framing them for the murder – they realise things are about to get even worse.

For the royal conspiracy that began with overthrowing an idealistic young king is spreading to Rijou, the most corrupt city in the land, and the life of a young girl hangs in the balance.

When every noble is a tyrant and every knight is a thug, the only thing you can really trust is a traitor’s blade.

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What a ride and journey I’ve been on with this series and I can’t believe it’s finally at the end and that I actually met my goal in fitting it into 2020. I took a while to get into this book and the story but after about 1/4 or 1/3rd of the way through I finally was gripped by the story and seeing how things were finally going to finish up.

There was a bit of a curveball introduced and I’m not entirely sure why but I am sort of ok with the conclusion after the events regarding what happened and reasonably happy with how the story wrapped up as a whole.

There was quite a lot to get through in this book to bring all the different threads together as well as trying to show how the stakes were greater than any of the previous instalments before. It wasn’t as brutal as Knight’s shadow but definitely had a lot more of a reflective tone on the main characters – especially Falcio – and how their actions had affected people.

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There was also a lot of discussion around how the wider environment had been impacted by the small goings on that we seen in the story and trying to bring a bit of perspective around how when leaders are playing power games that it affects those that live in the country.

This has a reasonable pace. It’s not too fast but it’s not so slow that you really struggle. My only criticism is the same as the previous books in that the plot of the book takes far to long to finally get going and we spend such a significant amount of time being caught up in other things rather than what the major points of the story actually are.

I’m really glad I read this in a reasonable time frame and it was easily my favourite series of 2020 and I can really recommend it to those that are looking for something to pick up that does have fantasy elements but is more about the characters and friendship and trying to fight against the odds.


Would love to know if you’ve read the series and what you thought or if it’s something you’re interested in maybe for 2021?

2020 Favourite Reads

Shoutout to everyone that was able to do this before the end of the year because I was still reading up until the last day and I found a new favourite of the year on the 30th December so a favourite reads post would have been outdated pretty quickly.

I’ve tried to organise this from most to least but it’s not perfect. There’s a good deal of non-fiction on here which blew my mind. 2020 was a great year for non-fiction fans.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water: The mind-blowing new murder mystery from the  Sunday Times bestselling author: Amazon.co.uk: Turton, Stuart:  9781408889640: Books

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People: Amazon.co.uk: Rooney, Sally: 9780571334650: Books

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Colonyside by Michael Mammay

Colonyside (Planetside Book 3) eBook: Mammay, Michael: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle  Store

Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien De Castell

Knight's Shadow: The Greatcoats Book 2 - The Greatcoats (Paperback)

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

The Five – Hallie Rubenhold

Humble Pi by Matt Parker

Humble Pi: A Comedy of Maths Errors: Amazon.co.uk: Parker, Matt:  9780241360231: Books

Dead Famous by Greg Jenner

Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity from Bronze Age to Silver  Screen: Amazon.co.uk: Jenner, Greg: 9780297869801: Books

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel | Waterstones

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: Amazon.co.uk: McNamara, Michelle, Oswalt, Patton,  Flynn, Gillian: 9780571345144: Books

Honourable Mentions:

Nemesis Games by James S A Corey

Nemesis Games - Wikipedia

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 9 : Hiromu Arakawa :  9781421554976

Notes From Small Planets by Nate Crowley

Notes from Small Planets: 2020's Essential Travel Guide to the Worlds of  Science Fiction and Fantasy! The ONLY Travel Guide You'll Need This Year!:  Amazon.co.uk: Crowley, Nate: 9780008306861: BooksPages: 253

Rating: 5 stars

Time taken: comfortable over 1 month

Format: Physical from own TBR

Synopsis:

Journey from fantasy mountains to super-cities, through piratical seas and up into space without missing any must-see sights – or putting a foot wrong with the locals! Whether you’re Lord of the shoestring-budget or Luxe Skywalker – Notes from Small Planets is your pastiche passport through the best worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Your ultimate travel guide to all the must-see locations in the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The perfect gift for self-professed geeks and fans of all things genre – from classic genre readers to new young disciples of nerdery. From misty mountains to wizarding schools, from the homes of superheroes to lairs of infamous villains – visit your favourite worlds and discover new ones – all without ever missing a single landmark or traditional dish. What’s orc for ‘bon voyage’?

If you’re looking for something a bit different and totally unique and love fantasy and sci-fi then this is the book for you. Let me sell it to you, this is an entirely fiction book about an adventurer that travels to different worlds and writes about his adventure and a travel guide for people that are looking to travel to them. It’s basically set up as a travel guide but instead of it being in this world called Earth it takes a spin on some of the well known stories from the fantasy and sci-fi genre.

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This is an incredibly funny book that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still has the time to put in a couple of remarks about how we sometimes only see one side of things on our travels or giving some commentary about the stories that are well loved and maybe giving you a different sense to see some of their problematic elements. But at the end of the day it’s all a bit of fun and it’s a book that should have you roaring with laughter and just enjoying being along for the ride.

I don’t think this is the kind of book that you need to sit down and blow through but instead is a great side book to pick up when you’re in the mood and just savour and enjoy. My favourite part of this book is the footnotes where the main character and his editor are conversing in the comments essentially so that this feels like a book in motions rather than it having been polished and completed and it’s great for that reason. I adore the lounge and cheek nature of the whole story and it’s one of the more memorable books for it’s originality.

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The afterword by the author is quite a key reading even though it’s only two pages because it explains the meaning behind why he decided to write the novel and gave me a real sense of what this book meant and what he aimed to do. It gives a great context at the end and gives you a really good time to reflect and understand what you’ve read and although this is an enjoyable book it does bring up some commentary about the books we read and what influence they could have on us.


If anyone has read this then I would love to know your thoughts and equally please let me know if you pick it up.