Week in Review – 21 January 2018

I know I mentioned last week that my mental health is having a bit of a wobble at the moment, I’ve reached a point now where I’m really not well at all. I’m really close to tipping into a full manic episode so I may need to just take a break from blogging for a short while. I’ve already cut back on social media and popping in on you guys, apologies guys. I’ve got posts scheduled to a certain point so if I do drop off you may not notice it straight away. I’m playing it by ear right now, and doing everything I need to, to take care of myself…especially in light of my next piece of news…

So one of the things I have had to keep tightlipped about recently, my volunteering job at the mental health charity has been converted into a paid role. I’ve been going through the process of applying for it formally and interviewing and I have now been offered the job and will start tomorrow. It’s only 10 hrs per week so I will still have plenty of time for the freelance work I have, and the blog and my writing but I’m really looking forward to getting more involved with their digital marketing.

I’ve had an interesting invitation this week which I decided to accept. I was asked to be one of the reader judges for the Your Laugh Line awards. I thought it was a fab opportunity to read some humorous books, a genre I really don’t dip into enough.

Your Laugh Line

The contest has two components. One is a Reader’s Choice Award. Readers can log onto https://yourlaughline.com/vote and enter the author and book of their choice. The author who receives the most reader votes will win $250 and an assortment of promotional help from Your Laugh Line.

The other component is an adjudicated contest for books submitted by authors and/or their publishers.  The form is available at https://yourlaughline.com/laugh-line-humorous-book-awards.  The cost to enter the competition is $20 per book. Those books will be judged by a panel of expert book reviewers. The winning author will receive $500, plus an assortment of promotional help from Your Laugh Line.

Authors can enter the competition between February 1st and April 30th.  Reader’s Choice voting runs from February 2nd to August 15th.  Books making it past the first round will be announced on July 1, second round list on August 1, and the final winner on September 1. Honorable mentions will be made for category-specific books.

So, there you have it…if you’re interested in entering your book you definitely should and if you’re interested in judging you should definitely get in touch with them, I’m sure they would appreciate it!

Right, here are this week’s book updates:

TBR Topple Winner

To Journey In The Year Of The Tiger - H. Leighton DicksonThe winner of the TBR Topple poll this month with 55% of the votes was To Journey in the Year of the Tiger by H. Leighton Dickson. I’m thrilled this book won, the last book of Dickson’s I read was incredible so I am looking forward to getting started on this one. Keep an eye open for the review next month, and a new poll in the early days of February.

Currently Reading

What I’ve Read

New Books

Bought / Freebies

Pre-Orders

Book Post

eARCs

Reviews

This week I have reviewed:

Five Star: The Tiger’s Ambush by Tate James and Pack Obsidian Gold by C.M. Stunich
Four Star: Impossible Promise by Sybil Bartel and Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson.
Three Star: Prosecco Christmas by Sylvia Ashby

Other Posts

Shinedown were featured on Music Monday. Nia from The Most Sublime was on The Bookshelf this week.

Next Week on BrizzleLass Books

#Review Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson @Gollancz

Description

Welcome to New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson’s first collection of short fiction.

These wonderful works, originally published individually, have been collected for the first time and convey the true expanse of the Cosmere. Telling the exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect, Arcanum Unbounded include the Hugo Award-winning novella ‘The Emperor’s Soul’, an excerpt from the graphic novel ‘White Sand’, and the never-before-published Stormlight Archive novella ‘Edgedancer’.

The collection will include nine works in all:
‘Edgedancer’ (Stormlight Archive)
‘The Hope of Elantris’ (Elantris)
‘The Eleventh Metal’ (Mistborn)
‘The Emperor’s Soul’ (Elantris)
‘Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania’ (excerpt; Mistborn)
‘White Sand’ (excerpt; Taldain)
‘Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell’ (Threnody)
‘Sixth of Dusk’ (First of the Sun)
‘Mistborn: Secret History’ (Mistborn)

This superb collection also includes essays and illustrations which offer an insight into the numerous worlds in which the stories are set.

Review

Arcanum Unbounded is the first short story collection from Brandon Sanderson, centred around the Cosmere, the universe that Sanderson has built his worlds upon you get a real feel for how each world relates to each other with this book a sense of just how big his worldview is and yet how small it is as well.

These short stories take you on journies, introduce you to new characters in familiar worlds, new worlds, new magic and in some cases bring us back to familiar faces and familiar places bringing a sense of homecoming.

Each story has a small note to inform of which novels it relates to and if there are spoilers so that you can skip those stories that may be an issue. There were a couple that I skipped because I’m behind on a couple of the series but I’ve marked the stories to return to them later.

It wasn’t really a surprise that the two stories I connected with the most were linked with novels I had loved the most. Firstly The Emperor’s Soul which was an Elantris story, to this day Elantris remains my all-time favourite Sanderson novel, and The Eleventh Metal which is a Mistborn story and sees us following a favourite character.

These stories given their short length are complex and detailed, they draw you in and as you would expect from Sanderson have plenty of twists and drama. This is a definite must-have for any Sanderson fans bookshelf.

I must thank Gollancz and Brandon Sanderson for the review copy of this book so that I could provide my honest opinion.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleArcanum Unbounded
SeriesThe Stormlight Archive 2.5
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Short Stories | Anthology
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 24 November 2016
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 672
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon USWaterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery | Audible

Week in Review – 7 January 2018

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the festive season and have jumped back into the new year with gusto! Here is my first week in review of 2018!

You will notice I’ve given the blog a makeover! I’ve been planning this for a while and I hope that you like it as much as I do!

I’m currently beta reading two books for author friends so I’ve slowed down on my normal reading a little while I work through those beauties, and beauties they are! I’ve also put my writing on hold while I work through these two books. My first book is also with my wonderful editor now as well and I’ve started working on her marketing strategy for her as part of the skills exchange we agreed to in lieu of financial payment.

I’ve hopefully got my asthma issues on the right path to being fixed now. I’ve been given a new inhaler which I’ve been told is particularly good for people with exercise induced asthma who do a lot of exercise, which apparently I qualify for these days! I’ve only been taking it a few days so we will see how it goes but I’m hopeful. I’m now running every day, and back to my classes, three per week and although the asthma is still kicking my butt I’m pushing through.

Yesterday I went to a taster day at a dance studio in Bristol, trying out things like pole dancing, burlesque, and chair dancing. I have never been good at dance, I have no co-ordination, I’m not flexible, and I have no rhythm at all, so I had no idea what this day would be like. Six classes down I’m aching like you wouldn’t believe and covered in bruises but I had so much fun. I can also confirm that I cannot twerk or pole dance to save my life but I was pretty good at burlesque and chair dancing…who’d have thunk it?!

Right, here are this week’s book updates:

Currently Reading

What I’ve Read

New Books

Bought / Freebies

Pre-Orders

eARCs

Reviews

This week I have reviewed:

Five Star: The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams, The Dragon’s Wing by Tate James, and Patient Zero by Terry Tyler

Other Posts

Most Anticipated Books of 2018 went up this week and the TBR Topple Poll for January went up so don’t miss out on voting for my next read. I announced I’m taking part in the Mount TBR Reading Challenge this year.

James J. Cudney was our featured author on The Bookshelf this week.

Myles Kennedy was featured on Music Monday.

Next Week on BrizzleLass Books

Week in Review – 24 December 2017

This is my last week in review of the year. Next week I’m going to put up some posts looking at which reviews have been my most popular through the year, and I will also post my top ten books of the year, and yes I’ve been agonising over that one!

Into the New Year, I will go back to posting just one review a day on most days, I’ve been cramming the reviews in over the past few weeks to try and clear my backlog down so that I can go into the New Year relatively fresh. But at the speed, I’m reading at the moment that’s not going to happen!

One thing I wanted to talk about on here was a post I wrote at the beginning of the year. I know stretching it a bit, isn’t it? I wrote this post on my mental health blog before I stopped writing on it, and it was about what was essentially my resolution for the year. I wanted to be more positive. Anybody who has known me for a long time knows that I’ve always let the Bipolar dictate how things are going to be. I’ve always had a very short temper, I’ve been moody, and really not been a particularly nice person to be around and I went into this year wanting to put a stop to that. Last year I did a lot of work on learning how to manage the Bipolar and just understand it better, this year was about being a more positive person. So I thought I would just briefly summarise how I felt it has gone because as shocking as it may be I fully embraced this promise to myself and am still living it.

I started volunteering, and now have two volunteering roles one for mental health charity Second Step where I am doing digital marketing within their Communications team, and another for Bristol Council where I am a walk leader for one of the mental health walks.

I’ve been to more gigs/concerts/festivals this year than I have in the past four years combined. It feels like I’m getting back to myself, I used to go to gigs almost every day so to be starting to go to gigs again on a regular basis feels like a part of me is coming back. We all know reading is a huge part of my life but so is music and I’ve lost that in the past few years so I’m over the moon that I’m starting to find that connection again.

I’ve learned to say “Yes” and mean it, I used to say “Yes” and then find an excuse to back out of things, now I’m actually fully committing and trying new things. I’ve joined fitness classes which I’m loving and will talk more about in a minute, I’ve made new friends something I really struggle to do…while I’m very chatty and sociable, I struggle to make true connections with people, I’ve been out clubbing (shocking at my age I know!), and even just small things like meeting people for coffee, getting in my car and going to someone’s house. All things I was too daunted to do before.

I’ve been to lots of events I’ve never been to before including a bunch of book-related events, signings, discussions, Q&A’s, festivals and I’ve met some wonderful authors including Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence, Laini Taylor, Ed McDonald, Joanne Harris, and Anna Stephens

I finally got the courage to chop all my hair off, and I love it, I’m so happy with my crazy haircut now, and I just changed the colour to one I’ve never tried before, because why not?!

I’ve had random conversations with people on the bus just because I took a moment to smile at someone as they got on so they sat next to me, these were really cool conversations and I think back and smile remembering the people I’ve spoken to over the year on the bus/in the street/in cafes etc. Being more open to human interaction is a wonderful thing. The other thing that has happened a lot this year is people keep thinking I’m younger than I am. Now whether it’s the haircut or that by being more open to people I come across younger I don’t know but people have guessed my age at being between 23-28 now considering I’m 38 all of these guesses were gratefully received.

I’ve argued less this year, of course, I’ve still argued, I’m not flipping perfect! But nowhere near as much as usual, I’ve learned when to keep my mouth shut and walk away which is about 90% of the time. My mental health has still had its moments but I’ve been much better at managing what is happening and dealing with it. As I write this I’m having a quite bad hypomanic episode in fact but I’ve done everything I can to manage it, my Doctor is aware and we are keeping an eye on it.

My fitness has soared as well, as I said I joined a fitness class. I go to three classes a week, I’ve just started running, and I do yoga at home, this is all in addition to the walking I did anyway. Doing all of this exercise is massively helping with the positivity and my state of mind and I highly recommend it!

So next year? I’m going to continue doing this, I didn’t realise going into this that being positive was a lifestyle choice. I know, naive right? I want to continue being open to new people, new experiences, and life as a whole. I missed a lot of life while I was really sick and I don’t want to miss anymore. I want to take as much of life in as possible, every single second. I have some great things already in the pipeline for 2018 and I can’t wait to share them with you.

So I promise myself to continue approaching life from a positive standpoint and to continue trying to be open to new experiences.

What are you going to promise yourself for 2018?

I hope everybody has a great Christmas. I know not everybody celebrates but I hope whatever you do it’s relaxing, enjoyable and stress-free

TBR Topple Winner

Surviving the Rachel - Aven EllisI drew the winner of this month’s TBR Topple vote, as always thank you to everybody who took the time to vote. This month the winner was Surviving the Rachel by Aven Ellis. I’m looking forward to reading this I always enjoy Aven Ellis’ books immensely and will be reading it in the next couple of days! Look out for the review in the New Year along with the new Poll.

Book of the Month

I’m choosing for December a little early as next week I will be picking my books of the year.

The Vixen’s Lead by Tate James

The Vixen's Lead - Tate JamesThis book really blew me away, a debut author in the reverse harem genre, this is a paranormal/urban fantasy novel and is gripping from the first page to the last. A slow burn on the romance elements this focuses heavily on the paranormal storyline and I couldn’t put the book down. I finished it and immediately downloaded the second book and pre-ordered books three and four so confident was I that this was a series I was going to become completely enthralled by. You can read my full review here.

Allisons Adventures in Underland - C.M. StunichAnd because I’m indecisive, I’ve chosen another winner, Allison’s Adventure’s in Underland by C.M. Stunich. This was everything I want fairy tale retellings to be and they never are. It was dark, twisted, brutal, and sexy as hell. I read the whole book in one sitting because I just couldn’t tear myself away from it and I loved every last thing about it from the psychedelic drugs to the adaptation of “Eat Me” “Drink Me” which was just perfect. Every time I think I’ve seen everything Stunich has to throw at us she surprises me a bit more. I don’t know how I’m going to hold out until March for the second part of this series because I’m already at nail biting stage and I only read it last week!

Currently Reading

What I’ve Read

New Books

I’ve not been showing books I pre-order on this, but I’ve decided to pop them in here on their own little gallery. I’ve added my most recent pre-orders to this week’s but going forward it will be a weekly thing as with the others.

Bought / Freebies

Pre-Orders

Book Post

Reviews

This week I have reviewed:

Five Star: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, Neil and Bennett by Sybil Bartel, Elements of Ruin by C.M. Stunich and Tate James, and Lindisfarne by Terry Tyler.
Four Star: The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, Snow and SeductionFull Moon Rising by Keri Arthur, and Cowboy Up by Harper Sloan.

Other Posts

Corey Taylor provided a Christmas themed Music Monday this week. I took part in the book blitz for Bennett by Sybil Bartel and featured an excerpt from the book.

#Review The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson @Gollancz

If you missed my review of Book One: The Final Empire check it out here.

Description

The impossible has happened. The Lord Ruler is dead has been vanquished. But so too is Kelsier the man who masterminded the triumph. The awesome task of rebuilding the world has been left to his protege Vin; a one-time street urchin, now the most powerful Mistborn in the land.

Worryingly for her Vin has become the focus of a new religion, a development that leaves her intensely uneasy. More worryingly still the mists have become unpredictable since the Lord Ruler died and a strage vaprous entity is stalking Vin.

As the siege of Luthadel intensifies the ancient legend of the Well of Ascension offers the only glimmer of hope. But no-one knows where it is or what it can do.

Review

Vin, Elend and the remains of Kelsier’s crew are left managing the remains of Luthadel after the events of The Final Empire this sounds simple but there are armies descending on them from all sides wanting to take control of the city in addition to weird goings on in the mists which mean this unlikely bunch have to be stronger than ever to overcome everything being sent their way.

Yet again Brandon Sanderson presents a tome with a solid epic fantasy, this is not a quick read but there is so much going on all the time that you can delve in for hours at a time. The allomantic play by the mistborns is wonderful to read, so vivid that you can see them dancing around on the page clearly, pushing and pulling bouncing around on rooftops. We meet a new mistborn in this novel, Zane, and I very much liked his character and the way he connected with Vin.

There are a lot battles in this novel, some brutal, and the way Sanderson has written them from multi-POV’s and over multiple chapters to really bring you as a reader into the depth of the battle is just how I like it. I love Sanderson’s knack of writing plenty of detail, of reeling you in so that you can see, hear, smell everything, exactly how I like to read my fantasy. The worldbuilding in these books has been stellar and I have such a perfect picture in my head of every location, every building, every outfit and every person.

I’m really looking forward to delving into the next book in this series. Lucky it’s on my bookshelf already!

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Well of Ascension
SeriesMistborn #2
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 10 December 2009
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 800
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon USWaterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery | Audible

Week in Review – 10 December 2017

This week in review covers a couple of weeks as I didn’t do one last Sunday with being on holiday. There shouldn’t be much more than usual on here though as I did nothing with my blogging for a week so it’s only really how much I’ve read that is overflowing!

Getting away was just what I needed, I think winter sun is definitely going to have to become something I add to my annual routine, even though I was sick most of the time I was away, escaping the cold and dark and getting some sun and warmth has definitely put a spring back in my step. I also read a lot of books, eight in total, one of which was an anthology of 17 novellas so I’d say I did pretty darn well, hopefully, I will get all of the reviews caught up pretty soon.

I’m now all committed to the running I recently added to my fitness routine. I’m having some trouble with my asthma when I run so I need to speak to my Drs about this and how to adjust my medication to help, I’ve almost had an asthma attack a few times running so I can’t leave it. But I’ve signed up to Mind’s January challenge R.E.D. January, it’s about getting active and running as much as you can every day in January, this will be great for my training and I know a few others taking part. Plus as it’s a mental health charity I’m even more committed to supporting it. I’m also signed up for the Bristol Tough Mudder in May, this is slap bang in the middle of a super busy week for me so not only will it be a huge challenge, I may already be dragging my backside from everything I’m doing that week! I’m also signed up for the Devil Mud Run in September which is a 10km obstacle course just to make things a little harder…heaven help me!

I’ve decided that during December I’m going to concentrate on reading books from my “Favourite Authors” list, I have a load of them on there and I spend so much time reading ARC’s that I just don’t clear this list as much as I would like so unless I have tour books I need to read I’m going to concentrate solely on this list, my own month-long Christmas gift to myself!

Book of the Month

I can’t believe this is the penultimate Book of the Month, I will do my December Book of the month a little before the end of December so that they are in the mix for my Books of the Year post.

Watching Glass Shatter - James J. CudneyWatching Glass Shatter left me an emotional wreck, I’ve read back on some of my other reviews this year and I’ve said they left me feeling emotional and thinking on how I felt reading those was nothing compared to how I was left feeling after I finished this. I got through an entire box of tissues reading this book, I sobbed big ugly real tears as I read about the Glass brothers and their turmoils. I felt so connected to them that, still now, over a month later, they are completely real in my head. This is a book I connected with on so many levels and I just can’t imagine why anybody wouldn’t connect with it and love it as much as I did.

My Review

Currently Reading

What I’ve Read

New Books

Bought / Freebies

Giveaway Wins

eARCs

Reviews

Four Star: Lavish by C.M. Stunich and Wicked Torture by J. Kenner.
Five Star: Dark & Stormy by J. Mercer and The Invisible Crowd by Ellen Wiles.

Other Posts

I had a birthday giveaway for a signed copy of Now You See Me by Kierney Scott (you have one day left to enter if you haven’t already)!

The most recent Music Monday was a birthday buddy special featuring Alter Bridge.

The latest TBR Topple is now live and ready for you to vote!

Next Week on BrizzleLass Books

Week in Review – 26 November 2017

I’ve been working on some things ready for next year I have some of my favourite authors secured for The Bookshelf in 2018, I’m literally bouncing off the walls with excitement over who I’ve secured. One will close out the year with the final bookshelf of the year and the others will be taking part in early 2018. It’s very exciting. Don’t forget anyone can take part just head here.

I’ve been busy with the mental health side of things again this week. The campaign I’ve been working on with my volunteering role went live this week at an event attended by Bristol’s Mayor and a number of other influential people from various organisations within the City. I had a great conversation with the Superintendent in charge of Mental Health for Avon & Somerset Police, it was great to meet someone in a position like this so passionate about mental health. This week I’ve appeared on Made in Bristol TV News and BBC Radio Bristol Breakfast, it’s been a busy week! The video we made for this campaign is below.

NaNoWriMo has gone really well, I hit the 50,000 words to complete it yesterday. For my first NaNo, I feel quite positive with how I went, especially as I finished early. When I started the month I didn’t think I would complete, but I’ve felt really inspired as I’ve written this novel and other than a few days where I’ve struggled to get the word count out I’ve really flown through it. I now need to backfill some areas of the novel that need more depth, and there are some additional chapters I want to add so I will set myself a new schedule and get on with it after my holiday.

It’s my birthday tomorrow and as always I’ll be running a giveaway, this year is probably my best yet, I tied it in with the release of a fantastic book so I hope you’re all ready for this! The post will go up at midday tomorrow and the Rafflecopter will stay open for a couple of weeks.

I go on holiday for a week next Thursday so the blog will go quiet for a bit. knowing me I will be about on Social Media, I can’t help myself(!) but there will be no posts until I get home. The plan is to have a nice relaxing week and to read loads. I really hope that pans out. More than anything I’m looking forward to sun, lots and lots of sun!

You Had Me At Hello - Mhairi McFarlaneThanks as always to everybody who voted in this month’s TBR Topple poll. I’ve had a great run of books from these polls so far, so I’m really looking forward to picking up this month’s winner. With 42.86% of the votes, the winner was, You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane. I’ll be reviewing it next month and the new poll will go up when I get home from my holiday so will be slightly later than usual.

Here are this week’s book updates:

Currently Reading

What I’ve Read

New Books

Bought / Freebies

Book Post

eARCs

Reviews

This week I have reviewed:

Four Star: and a Sixpence for Luck by Lilac Mills.
Five Star: A Stranger in the Cove by Rachel Brimble and Kiss My Boots by Harper Sloan.

Other Posts

I had excerpts from Istanbul Days, Istanbul Nights by Leonard Durso and Become the Force by Daniel M. Jones. The Bookshelf this week featured the very lovely Danielle from Books, Vertigo and Tea.

Music Monday this week featured Bon Jovi with a Thanksgiving-themed song.

I also took part in the Brotherhood of the World Award.

Next Week on BrizzleLass Books