Thursday, 31 May 2012

Book of the Month Competition - June

Hello everyone! June is upon us and that means it is time for a new book to be announced as my Book of the Month. Now unfortunately most of my time in the month of May was spent revising the Crusades in Spain and the ‘Special’ relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. And as fun as this sounds…. It didn’t leave me with much time for reading and reviewing. Because of this all the books I did buy and review during May were all from my Kobo eReader, meaning I do not have a physical book to give away from May! 

But do not fear! I have decided to give away a copy of one of my favourite books of all time The Children of Hurin. It is a book that gets a lot of attention on my blog because most people have never heard of it! It is written by J. R. R. Tolkien but was published quite recently by his son Christopher. I always see it as Tolkien’s Romeo and Juliet because it reminds me of a Shakespearian tragedy! It is also great for any Lord of the Rings fans as it opens you up to new stories and tales from Tolkien’s world.
All you have to do to win this brilliant, iconic book (for FREE) is click on this link to my Facebook page, ‘like’ my page and then write a comment saying you would like to enter the competition. If you are not on Facebook but are a member of Blogger, you can enter the competition by following my Blog directly through Blogger by clicking on the ‘join this site’ button on the right hand side of the page. It is that simple!

Remember it’s FREE to enter and it will not cost you a penny to get the book in the post. So why not have a go? You could win an excellent book for FREE!

Good luck to everyone that joins, I hope you’ll have as much fun with the competition as I will. I will be choosing the winner on the 30th June. For further details on the competition such as how the winner will be chosen and when the winner will be announced please click here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And the Winner is....

The winner of my April Book of the Month Competition for The Road by Cormac McCarthy is Sam Waller!! Congrats Sam!! Thanks to everyone who entered the competition, sorry to those that didn't win. But do not fear! Tomorrow I will be announcing my Book of the Month for May, so why not have another go and enter the competition :)

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Whale Road, Robert Low

Publishers: HarperCollins

Pages: 352

Main Characters:

Orm Ruriksson, Rurik, Einar

The Whale Road is the first book in Robert Low’s Oathsworn series and is based in the 10th Century Scandinavia. The story follows the life of Orm ‘The Bear Slayer’ as he is reclaimed by his father and taken as one of the Oathsworn, a band of men sworn to each other by an oath to Odin.  Orm’s life changes dramatically as the Oathsworn uncover a secret that is fit for one of the greatest Norse sagas. They uncover the secret location of the burial ground of Attila the Hun, rumoured to be surrounded by a mountain of silver! However they are not the only people to know of the treasure. The King of Denmark and Norway also has men looking for the treasure and the Oathsworn must uncover the clues first to have a chance of beating their rivals and gaining riches beyond their wildest dreams! The Whale Road sees Orm become a man with a fierce reputation as well as uncovering secrets from his own past about his mother and father.

I decided to read this book as it was suggested as a book to read for anyone who is a fan of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories. As some of you will know, I am a massive fan of Cornwell and was really interested to read another author who was similar to him. And I wasn’t disappointed, I really enjoyed The Whale Road. It was interesting to read Low’s interpretation of how a Norseman lived and thought. As well as reading about how they did not just raid and counquer Britain, but pretty much raided and conquered most of the known world in the 10th Century! I also thought the idea and myth behind Attila’s treasure was great because it is an idea that is based around historical fact. I like how Low put his own twist onto the myth to make it appealing to the Oathsworn, which made for really great reading in the novel.

But there were some small issues I had with the book. The main amongst these was that many of the names and places in the book have the old Norse names. Normally I like this because it makes the book more realistic. However, Low does seem to switch between the Norse names and the English names quite a lot which I found really confusing. He also uses the same names for different things such as referring to the ‘Great Khan’. It was originally used to describe Attila but then later in the book is used to describe his son which only confused me further!

Apart from this small issue I thought the book was great and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series! I would say I do prefer Cornwell’s books more but I think that is just because I will always place Cornwell higher than any author (Bit biased I know)! Great book, I would suggest it to anyone who has read Cornwell’s Saxon Stories.

For author’s official website click here 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Wise Man's Fear, Patrick Rothfuss

Publishers: Gollancz

Pages: 994

Main Characters:


The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book in Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller series. The book brings us back to the story of Kvothe, the Bloodless, the Arcane and the Bard as he continues his quest to find out more about the Chandrian, the seven demons that murdered his parents. However, after causing more trouble at the university, Kvothe is asked to take a term away from his studies to ‘chase the wind’ and give some time for the trouble his has caused to calm down.

Kvothe’s term out sees him arrive at the court of the sickly but immensely rich Maer of Vintas. After originally going to the Maer’s court to gain a patron, Kvothe uncovers a plot set to poisen the Maer and then manages to save the Maer from the poison’s effects. Because of this, Kvothe rises high in the court of Maer Alveron and is set with the task of removing bandits from the King’s road. After finally weeding the bandits out from their stronghold in the ancient forest where they have been hiding, Kvothe then finds himself becoming the lover of the Felurian, the ancient Fae goddess who has the power to bend a man’s will to hers. Felurian eventually releases Kvothe from her realm, on the condition that he will return to her in the future. When he returns to the mortal world, Kvothe decides to accompany his friend Tempi back to Tempi’s homeland of the Stormwal.

In Stormwal, Kvothe is enrolled in the Adem mercenary school, where he is taught to fight and taught the meaning of the Lethani by his teacher Vashet. Kvothe eventually proves to the Adem that he is not a barbarian and passes the test to gain entrance to the school. However his deadline to return to the university is drawing near and Kvothe decides his time away has been long enough. When he gets back to the university he finds his friends crying tears of joy to see him, as they believed he had been lost at sea!

If I’m been totally honest I found this book a huge disappointment. Reading back over my synopsis of the events in the book makes it sound really exciting, as we see Kvothe move away from the university and discover new places in Patrick Rothfuss’ world. However, when reading the book it seemed to take forever for Kvothe to leave the university. As I said in my review in The Name of the Wind, I thought Rothfuss focused too much time on Kvothe been poor and his time at the university. Sadly for me, this is just carried on into the first 50% of the book, which I found really annoying and really boring! The pace of the book did pick up abit when Kvothe left the university and went to Vintas. Here he became the confidant of the Maer, uncovered plots, became part of the political intrigue of the Maer’s court and eventually went on to fight bandits. I thought this was great because the pace of the book really picked up and was exciting to read.

However I felt this all crashed again with Kvothe’s time amongst the Adem. All he does is endlessly practice the Ketan, talk about the Lethani (which none of the characters in the book seem to understand, never mind me!) and the thing that really annoyed me about Kvothe’s time with the Adem (and which happened a lot throughout the book) was that Rothfuss just threw in the names of the movements of the Ketan without telling us what they were! They were all called undescriptive names like Maiden Brushes Her Hair, Playing the Lute etc. For me it was abit over presumptuous of Rothfuss to just throw in a load of random names without telling us what they were because I couldn’t really picture in my head what Kvothe was doing!

I may be a little unfair on this book and this series. I would say that I did enjoy the story and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, but I just felt that much of this book really didn’t need to be there. I also think that because I have heard so much hype about this book and have been told it’s the next Game of Thrones, that I may have overestimated it and therefore set it up to be a disappointment to myself. But as I say, the book is good but not as good as I thought it would be. Nevertheless I still think the series is well worth a read and I am looking forward to see where the next book takes Kvothe.

I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fantasy fan. For me it has is a mix up between The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter so if you are a fan of either of those series you would enjoy this book.

For author’s official website click here

P.S. There is only a few days left on my FREE competition to win The Road by Cormac McCarthy. If you would still like to enter, all you have to do is click on this link here to my Facebook page, ‘Like’ my page and then leave me a comment saying you would like to enter the competition. Remember it is totally FREE (so why not enter, someone’s got to win it!) and that the competition closes on the 31st May. For more information please click here. Good luck to anyone that enters!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Girl who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson

Publishers: Quercus Publishing

Pages: 608

Main Characters:

Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth Salander

The Girl who Played with Fire is the second book in Stieg Larsson's epic Millennium Trilogy. The book sees Blomkvist’s and Salander’s fates been draw together again as two of Millennium’s journalists are found murdered in their apartment with Lisbeth Salander’s finger prints all over the murder weapon. Blomkvist believes something is wrong. He knows the two journalists were writing a controversial piece on sex trafficking in Sweden. The article would name and shame a number of influential people within the Swedish high society making the journalists prime targets for murder to keep them quite. Blomkvist also knows Salander could not have murdered the two journalists because he has not seen her for months. This leads him to look into the article the journalists had been working on. The work leads him to finding secrets about the major criminals involved in the sex trafficking going on within Sweden. But it also leads him to discover the secrets of Salander’s past, secrets that portray why she is the woman she is today.

Meanwhile, sitting on a hot sandy beach in the Caribbean, Lisbeth Salander is content. After stealing millions of krona from the corrupt businessman Hans-Erik Wennerstom, Lisbeth is living the high life. That is until Salander sees her face smothered over every Swedish news channel with the phrase ‘wanted for murder’ written underneath. Salander knows who is behind the attempt to frame her and sets out to seek her old nemesis Zala. But even though she tries to conquer him on her own, Salander is brought back into contact with Blomkvist as they work together (but apart) to bring down Zala and clear Lisbeth’s name.

This was a great book, really continuing the fast pace the started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What I thought was great about this book was that we got to find out more about Lisbeth’s past. The book explains how she became an anti-social, anarchistic rebel. The tale of her past is both disturbing and sad but really explains why Salander is the way she is (which I thought was great because I really love Salander’s character!).

The mystery of Zala is also great. Who is he? Why does Salander know and hate him? Larsson does a brilliant job of keeping the mystery around this allusive gangster. But when he is revealed adds another brilliant twist to the book which for me only made it that much better.

This was a brilliant book. You should definitely read it if you have read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or seen any of the movies (Swedish or American). 

For author’s official website click here

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my FREE Book of the Month Competition for your chance to win a copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. For more information on how to enter the competition please click here

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks

Publishers: Abacus

Pages: 256

Main Characters:

Frank Cauldhame, Eric Cauldhame

The Wasp Factory follows the life of a seventeen year old boy called Frank. But unlike other boys his age Frank is different. Firstly he is from an old Scottish family which has owned land in the Porteneil area of Scotland for centuries, however their land is now limited to a small island off the coast of the town of Porteneil where Frank lives with his father. His father is an ex-hippy doctor who decided during the summer of love not to have Frank registered when he was born, therefore legally not making him exist! Frank’s older brother Eric is in a psychiatric hospital for setting people’s pet dogs on fire. Unfortunately, Frank also seems to have the crazy gene that runs through his brother and father. Frank believes himself to be the Lord of the island and will do anything to protect it. One way Frank does this is by capturing and killing the wildlife on the island and using their heads as a spiritual barrier to stop enemies from coming on his island!

Frank believes his life is going ok. He likes living on the island with his father as he is given a free reign to do whatever he likes (after all he can’t work or go to school because he does not officially exist!) This all changes when Frank and his father discover Eric has escaped from his hospital and is on the run from the police. To make sure his island is safe, and to make sure Eric doesn’t harm any more dogs, Frank consults the Wasp Factory to see what is going to happen in his and Eric’s future. The result of the factory is fire, a bad omen with Eric’s past. Frank must come to terms with the return of his brother and seek his own, sometimes violent, way with how he will cope and protect his island.

I decided to read this book as it was suggested to me by one of my friends who claimed it was the weirdest book that she had ever read! I thought this was a good reason to give The Wasp Factory a try and after reading it I’d have to agree it was weird but very enjoyable!

I thought Frank was an interesting character. From the start you think that he is not mentally sound as the first paragraph describes him checking his grizzly Sacrifice Poles and later goes on to mention him murdering a whole colony of rabbits by setting them on fire. However as you read further into the book, you discover that he is a clever person. When he is describing his feelings for his brother he is loving, compassionate and thoughtful and you think that this is a different person to the one who sets up Sacrifice poles and burns rabbits for fun. Later in the book you find it is not Frank’s mind that is different to everyone else’s, but his opinion on life and death. He sees death as a path that everyone is heading towards (The Wasp Factory) and can do nothing about and therefore he has no issue with murdering people or animals for his own needs and satisfaction.

The book was also interesting because it didn’t go the way I thought it was going to. Banks builds up the preparation Frank does for Eric’s return, making bombs and checking the Wasp Factory. I thought he was building up to a standoff between Frank and Eric as Frank tries to protect his world from the destruction Eric could bring. However what happens is totally different and much better! I was not expecting the book to end the way it did!

This was a great book but was a little weird, which for me wasn’t a bad thing! I have never really read anything like it so I wouldn’t know what other books I could compare it to, possibly The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon because of the psychological side to the book? (and the murder of a dog!) I’m not sure, but if you want a good general fiction read give The Wasp Factory a try.

For author’s official website click here

P.S. Don't forget to enter my FREE competition to win a copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy! For further info on how to enter the competition please click here

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller

Publishers: Bloomsbury

Pages: 368

Main Characters:

Patroclus, Achilles

Everyone knows the myth and legend of Achilles, but this book The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller approaches the age-old myth from a new perspective. The story is told through the eyes of Patroclus, an exiled Prince who is sent to the Kingdom of Phthia as punishment for the crime he has committed. In Phthia Patroclus is introduced to the Kingdom’s Prince, Achilles. After months of trying to avoid the Prince, Patroclus finds that his thoughts are more and more focused on Achilles. Patroclus soon finds out that Achilles’ thoughts are the same, as he chooses Patroclus to be his companion, the highest honour a Prince can give to one of his followers.

Becoming Achilles’ companion means that he has to be at his side at all times. This even means that Patroclus must follow Achilles into his training with the centaur Chiron. Here in the mountains Achilles and Patroclus discover that their feelings for each other are more than that of friends. Their life is ideal together in the mountains, living and hunting with Chiron. But that ideal changes when a messenger from Achilles’ father summons them back to Phthia for war!

I decided to read this book because I read a very good review of it from another Blog. It is also one of the six nominees for the Orange Book Prize for Fiction, so I thought with a great review and a prestigious nomination this book would be an excellent read. And to be fair it was, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the fact that Miller did not make it a historical novel but stuck to the myth of Achilles by making him a demi-God and introducing mythical creatures such as centaurs. I think it added an extra dimension to the book, whereas if Miller had made it into a more realistic story, it would not have been as entertaining.

However there were some things I didn’t like in this book. Unlike some other reviews I have read, I preferred the first half of book more than the second half. I thought the story of Patroclus’ exile and his relationship with Achilles made the first half of the book really interesting and fast paced. However, I thought the next about 30% of the book was far too slow! It really stopped the pace that had picked up leading to the war with Troy from the first part of the book. I think Miller missed an opportunity to make this part of the book a lot more exciting by not really describing the battles that took place and how Achilles fought in them.  I know the book was about Patroclus and not Achilles, but I would have preferred to read about Achilles’s battles and not about Patroclus sitting in an olive orchard contemplating how much he loves Achilles…again! Luckily the last 20% of the book was brilliant and picked up the pace again, ending with an epic battle and Patroclus becoming the Hero I think he should have become much earlier in the book.

Like I said I did really enjoy this book, I just wish the second half was as good as the first! I would suggest it to anyone who has read David Gemmell’s Troy series. It is interesting to see how these two authors both portray the same event in two completely different ways.

For author’s official website click here

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Book of the Month competition where you could win a free copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, to enter please click here

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The History of the British Monarchy, Kings and Queens, Haynes

Publishers: Haynes

Pages: 127

Main Characters:

Elizabeth II, Henry VIII, George III,
William the Conqueror

Just thought that I’d do a quick review for a really cool and quirky book I found today.  It’s called The History of the British Monarchy, Kings and Queens. It’s a small ‘pocket manual’ with information on each English and British Monarch from King Egbert who ruled from 802-839AD all the way up to Queen Elizabeth II. A really good quick read with some cool facts on the British Monarchs. The caricatures are also really funny!
My favourite British Monarch is Henry V, who is your favourite and why?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

April's Book of the Month FREE Give Away

Well it’s the 1st May and you all know what that means (I’ve been going on about it enough!) it’s the first day of my Book of the Month Competition! And April’s Book of the Month is….. The Road by Cormac McCarthy!

For me this was the only contender for the competition. Not only was it my favourite book of April, but it appears it was your favourite as well because it got the most comments and is the most viewed post on my Blog ever!

All you have to do to win this brilliant, iconic book (for FREE) is click on this link to my Facebook page, ‘like’ my page and then write a comment saying you would like to enter the competition. If you are not on Facebook but are a member of Blogger, you can enter the competition by following my Blog directly through Blogger by clicking on the ‘join this site’ button on the right hand side of the page. It is that simple!

Remember it’s FREE to enter and it will not cost you a penny to get the book in the post. So why not have a go? You could win an excellent book for FREE!

Good luck to everyone that joins, I hope you’ll have as much fun with the competition as I will. I will be choosing the winner on the 31st May. For further details on the competition such as how the winner will be chosen and when the winner will be announced please click here

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