At school I was a huge fan of English, and I went on to do an English Literature and Language degree at university. One of the things we did was read a novel or poem and then work out the themes, the deeper meaning and what we thought the author really meant (which they probably didn’t mean at all but, you know, we had to write something halfway intelligent in our essays!).
So, in the spirit of a number of English lessons I vividly remember where we dissected Lord of the Flies by William Golding until there was absolutely nothing left of the story, here I ‘go deep’ on seven themes in my second novel.
Soooo… we’re 0n lockdown. Which means we’ve got plenty more time to spend with our books. For bookworms, this of course means more reading YAY!
But, sadly, there’s only so much reading you can do before your eyes go a bit weird (or is that just me?) Anyhooo, here are 20 book-related things that you can do at home with your physical books.
I read a lot, about 50 books per year. Now we’re staying at home until this pandemic passes, I’ve got more time to read – WOOOOO.
I mostly talk about speculative fiction on this blog, and predominantly the fantasy genre, however I have an eclectic taste in books and read all sorts. So, this is my stay-at-home for the next few weeks reading list.
Hopefully it’ll give you some ideas as to what to read next or for books to add to your reading list. Or, it might inspire you to think about and note down the next ten books you plan to read just to pass some time.
Book Review: Shadows of Faerie by Martin Owton
This urban fantasy caught my eye because it’s set in Southampton and the New Forest – where I live! It’s rare to find fantasy set in the New Forest (or any books for that matter…) so I jumped at the chance to read this one.
Book Review and Author Interview: An American Weredeer in Michigan by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus
Book Review: An American Weredeer in Michigan (Bright Falls Mysteries #2) by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus
One of the authors, C.T. Phipps, kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
An American Weredeer in Michigan is the hilarious follow-up to book one, I Was a Teenage Weredeer, (read my review here) which I also thoroughly enjoyed.
Book Review: Onslaught of Madness (The Madness Wars #1) by Jesse Teller
Wow. What a story. Intense, dark and brooding. Grittiness turned up to the max. This is the second novel I’ve read from Jesse Teller (read my review of the first, Song, here) and he definitely has a style that skilfully sucks the reader into his intricately imagined world and shows them no mercy once they’re there.
In my second epic fantasy novel, Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), we learn more about the nation of Troglo and the Trogrs, or cave creatures. The Trogrs are desperate, as for years their fertility has been in trouble, with a slow decline in the birth of females and then a drop off altogether, with only male babies being conceived and born.
This concept of fertility evolving or failing is an interesting one to think about – what would we do? What would happen if suddenly the fertility rate dropped off, or only male or female babies were being born, or if only a select few were fertile? For the survival of the race, would we force fertile people to procreate? Would we have to find other animals or alien lifeforms close to humans to attempt to breed with? Would we turn to cloning ourselves to keep the race going? Desperate times call for desperate measures… how far would we go?
Much of the action in my In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy is set in a country called Peqkya and its capital Riaow. It’s surrounded by a belt of mountains called the Meliok Mountains.
The inspiration for Peqkya has come from my world travels and specifically the amazing mountains I’ve been fortunate to visit and trek. Below I round up some of the locations and experiences that have helped me bring my world to life in Melokai (Book One) and Violya (Book Two).
At the time of the novel Violya, the warrior Violya is twenty years old. Born in Riaow, the capital of Peqkya, she grew up in a pen where she met her best friend Emmya. As with every Peqkian, V does not know who her parents are, as Peqkian custom dictates ‘No baby will ever know it’s parents and no parents will ever know their baby’.
Violya, or V, showed excellence in warrior training from an early age. However, although she worked hard to cultivate her talent, she was crippled with self-doubt. As a child, she grew very tall very quickly and suffered from bullying which knocked her confidence. As a teenager she would sneak out of the warrior barracks and into a place in the bamboo forest just outside of Riaow. There she would self-harm in an attempt to quiet the voices in her head that told her she was no good.
For those of you who have read Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains #1) and would like a refresher on what happens before diving into Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), then this short synopsis is for you!
**WARNING**: this includes EVERY spoiler about the story in Melokai, so only read it if you’re happy to find out exactly what happens, and the ending, of the first book.
This synopsis is included in the ebook of Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), but not in the paperback.
Book Review: We Lie With Death (The Reborn Empire #2) by Devin Madson
Back in December 2018 I read We Ride The Storm, the first book in The Reborn Empire series by Devin Madson and I LOVED it. It was my book of 2018. (Read my review here). Fast-forward to December 2019 and I finished the second book, We Lie With Death, and also massively enjoyed it!
“Cockfaces,” the warrior Violya hissed as the enemy’s ramshackle camp came into view.
In the dead of night, lit only by the camp’s pathetic fires that spat and sizzled against the heavy snowfall, a small, deadly force of one hundred Peqkian warriors and one hundred Jute fighters silently climbed down the mountain slope.
Book Review: The Exercise Of Vital Powers (Legends of the Order #1) by Ian Gregoire
The author Ian Gregoire kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
This fantasy novel follows the story of teenager Kayden, an apprentice of The Order. She’s snarky, she’s determined, she’s single-minded in her desire to be the best. We first meet her on an attack of a heavily guarded old fortress, where she’s reluctant to follow the designated ‘leader’, because she has a better plan.
Book Review: The Girl With All the Gifts (The Girl With All the Gifts #1) by M.R. Carey
So, I’m not usually one for zombie books, series or movies. They’re all a bit samey and predictable, unless they totally subvert the genre like the movie Zombieland, which is totally hilarious. But this novel is described as a thriller and the blurb, about a little girl called Melanie who everyone seems terrified of, intrigued me enough to pick it up.
And WOW I’m so pleased I did. This is a zombie book that is intelligent, exciting and gripping. With a BRILLIANT ending.
Book Review and Author Interview: Touch of Iron (The Living Blade #1) by Timandra Whitecastle
The author Timandra Whitecastle kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
This fantasy novel had everything I love: fast-paced plot, fearless female main character, no-holds-barred fight scenes, some romantic/sexy moments and laugh-out-loud humour. It’s gritty, sweary, a bit different and has an intense grimdark feel.
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