Monday 27 August 2018

eBook Review - Mystery of the Three Quarters

  • Title And Author: The Mystery of the Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah
  • Publisher: HarperCollins 
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by Publisher via NetGalley (in exchange for an honest review)
  • Length: 400 Pages
I’ve had a bit of a bad run of authors writing new adventures for classic characters. I like that new audiences are discovering these well-loved characters, but recently, when I read these new advertures, I seem to hit a wall over liking the story. 

So why, I hear you ask, did I want to read this? Because I wanted to. Well, I wanted to read Closed Casket, the second in the new Hercule Poirot mysteries. I even got an copy to read, but got super chicken over it so never read it. But with this, I went “I want to try this. Plus, the premise sounds super intriguing and very Agatha Christie. And it’s an author I’ve never read before.”

Poirot comes home from lunch to find an angry woman standing in his doorstep. Here, she demands to know why he sent her a letter, accusing her of murder. Poirot has not sent any letter, has no idea who she is nor the person who was murdered. The woman doesn’t believe him and, shaken, Poirot goes into his house, only to come face to face with a man who’s son has received the same letter from Poirot. 

Over the next 48 hours, two more people comes to Poirot, saying he has written these letters to him, accusing him of murder. But Poirot doesn’t understand why these four unrelated people are accused of murder by someone pretending to be him… 

Who is Barnabas Pandy who these four are meant to have murdered? Was he murdered? Who is the poison letter writer? And can Poirot find the answers before more lives are put in danger? 

Where do I start with this? 

Saturday 25 August 2018

Audiobook Review - And Then There Were None

  • Title And Author: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 224 Pages or 6 hours 1 minute
It looks like I am galloping through Agatha Christie now. And all because I was enjoying reading The Mystery of the Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah (which I will be talking about on the Pewter Wolf soon. Ish. Though am still playing caught up on the blog with my July/early August reading) and am listening to a podcast called All About Agatha, which is going through all Agatha Christie’s novels and short stories one at a time. So, because of this, I wanted to go read/listen to some of the Queen of Crime’s work. Now, I just listened to The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and, due to the twist at the end, I knew I wanted to listen to this, which I bought at the same, plus this has been called Agatha’s greatest work… 

Ten strangers, with nothing in common apparently, get summoned to a small island off the coast of Devon, through letters from old friends, employment and other means. But once on the island, after their first meal together, a chilling recording is played and the voice of their unseen host accuse each of them of committing murder and getting away with it… 

Not long after the message was played, one of them chokes to death, been given a fatal overdose of cyanide in his brandy. Soon, the tension and mistrust grows as their number grows smaller and smaller and they realise that the killer is among them and is prepare to kill the all. All in the style at the now terrifying nursery rhyme of Ten Little Soldier Boys… 

Thursday 23 August 2018

Audiobook Review - Murder of Roger Ackroyd

  • Title And Author: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 320 pages or 6 hours 53 minutes 
Well, I am going through a bit of an Agatha Christie blitz, aren’t I? First I read The Mysterious Mr Quin (a collection of short stories I’ve wanted to read back at the start of July but only chatted about on here at the start of the month) and, at the time of writing this, I am reading The Mystery of the Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah, which is taking Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and putting him in a new adventure (with the blessing of the Agatha Christie Estate, of course). So, I was around 40% into Mystery of the Three Quarters and I was having such a blast with it, I went “You know, I kinda want to read more Agatha Christie stories. But where do I start?” So I oooh-ed and aaah-ed and, in the end, I bought two audiobooks - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and And Then There Were None - and went “Ok, let’s try one out!”. On sheer impulse, I went with Roger Ackroyd

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He discovered 24 hours earlier that the woman he was in love with and planning to propose to had poisoned her first husband, only for her to kill herself after revealing another dark secret: someone is blackmailing her. And after receiving the evening post, he discovers a letter by the woman, with the truth of who was blackmailing her. But before he could read it, he’s violently stabbed in the neck. 

The family and friends are in shocked - who could do such a thing? And why? 

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Audiobook Review - Waking Gods

  • Title And Author: Waking Gods (The Themis Files: Book 2) by Sylvain Neuvel
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 336 Pages or 9 Hours, 8 Minutes

Earlier this year, I listened to the audiobook of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, the first book in the Themis Files (my write-up for that is here, FYI), and since then, I wanted to listen to the second book in the trilogy to see where the series goes. 

So, when I got a credit on Audible (I preordered an audiobook so I had to wait a month or so), I bought this and went “Ok, hopefully, I’m going to enjoy this as much as I did the first!”

Set around ten years after the events of Sleeping Giants, a giant alien metal robot materialise in the centre of London. There was no warning for its arrival. It stands alone in London, stock still. As if it’s waiting… And it looks frightening like Themis. 

Doctor Rose Franklin can’t remember what happened to her. According to what she’s been told. she died several years ago and yet, here she stands, with no memory of what happened to her. As she, her team and Themis’s pilots try and figure out what to do next, a military decision backfires, reducing in half the city of London being destroyed! 

Now, with more alien robots appearing all over the world in cities, it’s a race against time as, if no-one can figure out what these robots want and a way to stop them, over 99% of the human population is going to die… 

Saturday 18 August 2018

Why I Won't Be Reading Lethal White

You think as a huge Potterhead/JK Rowling fan, that I would be excited as heck over the next that the fourth Coroman Strike book, Lethal White, is coming out in exactly one month's time. You would think that I would have preordered it and be trying to find clues and titbits over what this book is about and how it continues after the events of Career of Evil

You would think that, right? 

Expect… well… I have no plans to preorder or read Lethal White. And you know what? I’m actually at peace with my decision. 

Ok, let’s backtrack and explain why. I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I grew up reading this series, finding my voice and shaping my opinion with this series. I reread the books, watched the films, discover podcasts that talk about this series in cool and unique ways, I read Casual Vacancy and enjoyed it hugely (I really should reread it one day). I read then watched Cursed Child (even though I had reservations on this - I still have reservations and gripes with it). 

Thursday 16 August 2018

Book Review - Little Eve

  • Title And Author: Little Eve by Catriona Ward
  • Publisher: W&N (Orion)
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Physical 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted at Bloggers Event by Orion & Sarah from Feeling Fictional
  • Length: 288 Pages
Like I said a few weeks back (before I decided to go on my Blog Holiday due to real life stuff/House move!), I went to #OrionBloggerBrunch and when I was there, I somehow got my hands on a copy of Little Eve by Catriona Ward. You can blame/thank Sarah from Feeling Ficitional for that as this wouldn’t be my typical Pick Up and Read. Yes, I like creepy thriller/crime, but I’m like more modern setting whereas this is set past First World War and tackles cults and other themes that I usually avoid. 

But because Sarah gave me her copy, I feel the need to read it. I think, due to the stress of real life/house move and me reading a lot of YA recently, I felt the need to read something more grown-up (don’t worry, I will juggle much better between reading adult and teen in future) and having this book made me go “Let’s try this out!” 

On a cold January morning in 1921, a young man goes to the island of Altnaharra with an order of beef. The family who live on the island are strange, and that’s putting it lightly. But when he gets there, he discovers a horrible sight. The family all dead, their eyes plucked out, bar one young woman who is alive and only has one eye. Dinah claims that it was her sister, Eve, who killed her family, driven by her religious freneticism. 

But as the story moves forward, we hear accounts from Eve’s point of view, years before the event happen, and from Dinah who is remembering that terrible night and the events that follow. But the two accounts intertwine and contradict. One woman is telling the truth, the other is not. Who can be trusted and what really on the island?

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Do Star Ratings Work?

Question: how many times have you looked at a book - or anything for that matter - on Amazon/Goodreads/Waterstones/etc and simply glance at the star ratings of something before deciding if it’s worth your time or not?

Answer: probably a lot. I do this all the time, even though I know that I should know better. 

The problem with doing this is that it’s simple things. And there’s no explantation on why people have given the star rating. Plus, the star rating changes depending on where you look and who you chat to. 

For example, I looked stuff up on Goodreads. The one that prompted this discussion was a book I was going to preorder and yet, when I added it on my To Be Read list, it had a ton of 5 star reviews. I know with Goodreads, users can put star ratings on books that aren’t out yet, but when the book comes out, won’t these star ratings mess the rating up a bit? 

I’ve seen the same thing on Amazon when people write reviews on how they got the book delivered to them. I’m glad/sad that you got the book is wonderful/horrid condition, but do you need to write a starred review to tell us that? What is your thoughts on the story itself? 

Friday 10 August 2018

eBook Review - Hard Truths

  • Title And Author: Hard Truth by Alex Whitehall
  • Publisher: Riptide Publishing
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by publisher via NetGalley
  • Length: 212 Pages

Like I said in my write-up of Mysterious Mr Quin, I went through a bit of a spell with the blog, real life and reading in general. So, I decided that I wanted to read something fast, fluffy and something that didn’t involve much thinking. 

Sometimes, we all need a candy-floss, beach read. 

It was going to be one of two NetGalley eProofs: either this or Tight Quarters by Annabeth Albert. I  leaned this way more as I believe this is shorter out of the two stories. 

Isaac didn’t expect to fancy his sister’s date at the Christmas dinner at his parents. But when her date hits on him, Isaac decides to tell her what happened at once - only to find out that her date is a fake date. They aren’t dating and that Logan is gay as well, and wants to see him again. 

As the two begin to date, Isaac has to find a way to come out to his “unworldly” parents. Coming out to them could mean losing his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see his real family who are right beside him and, if Isaac isn’t carefully, he could lose everyone around him… 

Ok, where do I start with this adult gay romance? 

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Should Book Bloggers Get Paid?

I know this is something that keep getting discussed every now and again within the Book Blogging Community aka the Blogsphere, and normally, I stay away from this as my opinions are very mixed depending when you ask me and what mood I’m in. Or if I’ve just looked at my bank account and panicking about money, which is something I do often! 

But recently, I’ve started listening to a bunch of new podcasts and watching book vloggers and they ask for listeners and viewers to support them via Patreon. They are open about the fact that they put a lot of time and work into these projects and I 100% understand. 

But it’s interesting reading book bloggers thoughts on this throughout the past few years and I started to wonder about it as a whole. 

Now, before I go any further, this is going to be rambling. I’m not going to give an out-an-out answer on this. This is me, trying to understand and figure out where I stand in this. 

My thoughts are very mixed, like I said. I feel hugely uncomfortable about the idea of being paid to write a review or being involved in a blog tour. If I read a review on a blog I trust, I would question if the reviewer was being genuine over their review or was saying that the publisher/author/PR company/whoever is paying wanted them to say, if I find out that it was a paid review. 
We’ve seen backlash when several well-known vloggers in the US reviewed a book positively, only to discovered that they were paid. 

And what about adverts, I hear you ask? Hm… If I put adverts on my blog, I would want to be super careful on what goes up. I don’t want an advert that goes against my beliefs and the values I hold dear (for example, I won’t have anything anti-LGBTQ as am a gay man. Nor would I want anything racist, sexist among other things). Plus, if I did have adverts, I would only get revenue from them if someone clicks on it. And how often do we click on an ad? Or a clickbait ad? We’re more savvy now on this. 

“But, what about affiliates,” you ask? “You can put them in your reviews and put them to companies you use and trust”. Ok, this does seem the most logical step, but what company? Amazon? Waterstones? WHSmiths? Foyles? Audible? Book Depository? Hive? See… there are so many book sellers in the UK and there are so many forms of books - physical, ebook, audiobook - that instead of doing one, I would have to have several. And again, I would only get revenue from them if someone clicks that link to get a 30 day cookie and buys something. And even though, how much would I get if someone did that? Not very much - it’s between 5% to 10% on some of the sites I’ve looked into. 

What about Patreon and Ko-Fi? I mean, listening to podcasts and watching book vloggers saying they use Patreon and Ko-Fi and I get why. How pricy is a microphone, a camera, editing software? But for a book blogger such as myself? All I need is my laptop, wifi (which I can get free in most coffeeshops), a book or my eReader and not much else. Wouldn’t that feel a bit cap-in-hand?

Plus, would it be even worth it? I am not a huge blog. Hell, I am tiny! Really under the radar.  Would it be truly worth it for me to have an affiliate or a patreon/ko-fi? And do this while getting copies of books from publishers for free? 

See, that’s where I get stuck. Publishers, authors and publicity people are sending me books and ebooks (and making them aren’t cheap) and then, I would making money on the back of it. 

“But, hang on,”I hear you counter-argue. “They use your blog for free advertising and they make profit from that when the book sells. Doesn’t it seem unfair for you to do this for free while they make profit?”

This is something I have been questioning for at least a year or so. Me wondering if I should have something so, if you click it, I get some money. Money that I can put into the blog - buying my domain name, paying someone to create business cards for the blog or create a really cool banner, using the money for train fare when I got to events. But then I would question if it’s wise/sensible to ask for money from the blog’s reader, which then makes me question my worth and the blog’s as I have spent how much time/money/energy into this blog - a hobby I enjoy - which then makes me feel guilty because this is a hobby, plus I’m asking for money. This, in turns, makes me worried about money, my and the blog’s self-worth, which makes me think about using affiliate and thus, the cycle continues, though I do leave it a month or two before I go back into this rabbit hole. 

While I was on Twitter a few days/weeks ago, when I was thinking about writing this (or halfway through), I asked if other bloggers I know use affiliates and feel guilty about using them, and though only a tiny handful of people replied, most said the same thing: “I barely make any revenue from it so why feel guilty over it?”

I could go on about this. About me trying to figure out this as it does feel very much a mortal and it varies from person to person. For some people, this is a no brainer while to others, this is a bad idea and won’t go near it. 

For me, I think that, while I am totally against being paid for a review, I do feel less against using an affiliate and the forms of revenues, as long as they are sensible and for the blog. This would be my thread of thought, and if/when I finally feel comfortable about using affiliates/adverts/patreon/ko-fo/whatever, I would use what I feel is the best and most comfortable for myself and for the blog. 

But like I said before, this is a moral decision and it’s up to each blogger, vlogger, podcaster, creator to decide what is comfortable for them.

Monday 6 August 2018

Book Review - The Mysterious Mr Quin

  • Title And Author: The Mysterious Mr Quin by Agatha Christie
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Physical 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed from Library
  • Length: 336 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Audible

Well… that was unexpected. 

Ok, in the words of Craig David, re-e-wind

Sorry, no idea why I wrote that but anyway, back story. As you might remember from a blog post from months back when I chatted about Agatha Christie, this was one of the titles I’ve wanted to read for a while. Ever since I heard of the general bases of this, I wanted to read this. I mean, a mysterious man (who appears as if by magic. A bit like the shop keeper from Mr Benn! Anyone remember that?) who solves crimes. Sold! But I didn’t know when I was going to read this. Plus, I wasn’t sure if this was best place to start with reading Agatha Christie. 

Then I went “Sod it!”, requested it at my library (this was at the height of my last reading slump and real life drama of buying a house, trying to get a handle on work and general “Am I good enough to continue book blogging? Or should I quit?” - you know, the good stuff in life) and, before I had time to get myself ready, my library said “We got it and the other two books you requested for you!” (the other two books were Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs and Want to Play? by PJ Tracy [and why I haven’t read them will be made clear in the coming paragraphs]) so I decided to read this. 

The Mysterious Mr Quin is a collection of twelve short stories that follow Mr Satterthwaite as he gets himself involved in mysteries - some from the past, some present - and his mysterious acquaintance, Mr Quin, who seems to be the catalyst for the truth to come to light… 

Sunday 5 August 2018

I'm Back (Again)

Well… that blog break throughout most/all of July kinda came out of nowhere, didn’t it? 

What happened? What called this blog break, I hear none of you ask. 

It was a mix of things, truth be told. 

As you lovely readers know if you follow me on Twitter for the past few months, I seem to be having a lot of reading slumps recently and I’m not 100% sure why. I’m reading pretty much what I always read, but it feels like recently these types of reads are are feeling a bit predictable. Not the stories fault, but because am reading some much of the same thing in a short space of time, am hitting a wall. Because of this, I had to take a step back from reading these types of books in the timeframe I usually give myself to read (another reason why I keep having reading slumps recently - am putting too much pressure on self to read books within a certain timeframe and that’s not gonna work, Andrew. You should know better).