Welcome!

I love reading! Well, I suppose you worked that out from the title of this site, didn’t you?

I read flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, novels, full-length books, poetry books and am quite fond of book series too.

I also read most genres, though there are some I am more likely to read than others, but hey, I will give pretty much anything a go!  You never know when you are about to uncover a hidden gem.  Unless you read it, you don’t know if you will love it…and that is part of the magic of books.

I like to do what I can to support indie authors (I’m one myself), so if you would like me to review your book / story, just get in touch 🙂

If you have any suggestions, recommendations or review requests, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

Have a great day!

To learn more about me, read my about page.  To see what I’ve already reviewed, visit the A-Z review index.

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Bookish Reflections – September 2018

A monthly round up of all things bookish at Sammi Loves Books…It’s my attempt at becoming more accountable in my reading and reviewing habits…


In a nutshell

It’s been another busy month and now we’ve entered the final quarter of the year, I’m beginning to suffer quite badly with exhaustion.  Unfortunately, it’s been a common thread woven through my year, but, instead of resting when I first notice the symptoms, I tend to do the opposite and work harder in an attempt to ignore it / get over it.  Silly, I know.  As a result, I’ve already closed a number of projects – including accepting review requests for Sammi Loves Books – with only a handful left to close in the next week or two.  Hopefully once that’s complete, and the pressure’s off, I might find the time and space to rest my over active, over anxious mind, before things get any worse…

In happier news, last month I shared that my own book I had been posting to Wattpad, chapter-by-chapter, Oathbreaker, made The Wattys 2018 Longlist.  Well, the latest exciting update is that Oathbreaker made The Wattys 2018 Shortlist in mid-September. The book is now complete and can be read in full and for free, here.  I’m always grateful for any support, reads, votes and comments 😉

As for book reviews, I managed only three in September, but I read so much more than that, and my review list will need to be tackled in October before it gets completely out of hand!

Books I’ve reviewed

Favourite read of the month

Mick’s Archaeology

Books I’ve bought (or been given)

  • The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  • The Amazing Test Match Crime by Adrian Alington

Books I’ve downloaded

  • None this month – yay!

What I’ve been reading on Wattpad

  • Footsteps in Time by Sarah Woodbury
  • Hooked by KC Farrah

August’s “Read and Review” Goals*

  • Footsteps in Time by Sarah Woodbury

* Light blue = review posted | Blue = review not posted | Black = did not read

What I’m reading and reviewing in October

  • Murder on the Flying Scotsman by Carola Dunn (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The Amazing Test Match Crime by Adrian Alington (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Monks Hood by Ellis Peters (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Damsel in Distress by Carola Dunn (currently reading)

Goodreads Reading Challenge

My goal is 40.  I’ve read 31.  78% complete.  Currently 1 book ahead of schedule. (Yes, you read that right! This is the fifth month in a row that I’m ahead!)

Other reads (books not on Goodreads): 2 (Outside the Law by Anthony Berkeley | Surfacing by Annest Gwilym)

Total books read so far this year: 33

Book Review: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler


The Big Sleep is the first novel by Raymond Chandler to feature the iconic Philip Marlowe.

Quick Review (read on for the full review)

Fast-paced and atmospheric, The Big Sleep is a complicated but gripping read full of vivid descriptions and sharp dialogue. 4.5 / 5

Summary (from Amazon)

Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is hired by wheelchair-bound General Sternwood to discover who is indulging in some petty blackmail. A weary, old man, Sternwood just wants the problem to go away. But Marlowe finds he has his work cut out just keeping Sternwood’s wild, devil-may-care daughters out of trouble as they prowl LA’s dirtiest and darkest streets. And pretty soon, he’s up to his neck in hoodlums and corpses . . .

Favourite Quote

This book is full of quotable lines, but these two are my favourites:

I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it.  I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be.

*

“A nice state of affairs when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy”…

Review

This is my first time actually reading anything by Raymond Chandler.  I’m not entirely sure how it has taken me this long, given my love of detective fiction.  Prior to this, I had only listened to a couple of BBC dramatisations for radio, where Toby Stephens played Philip Marlowe – which I enjoyed very much.

When it comes to hard-boiled detective fiction, Raymond Chandler is not only in a class of his own but sets the standard for the genre.  He is also responsible for a number of the common tropes we readers expect in this type of detective story today.  His powerful style and vivid descriptions bring glisty and gritty Los Angeles and California of the 1930s jumping off the page, revealing the dark underbelly of Hollywood society.

Fast-paced, The Big Sleep doesn’t relent for a minute.  Marlowe is a good guy with a sharp tongue.  His dialogue is full of wit and peppered with smart remarks – something that not everyone he runs into finds endearing.  Some find it insulting, others don’t quite know how to react to him.

One of the stand-out aspects of Chandler’s writing is his ability to capture a character’s personality, and there are plenty of characters to meet along the way.  Not many of them are likeable and it’s hard to feel much of anything towards them when you are given a glimpse of the corruption all around them.

Marlowe, of course, is the star of the show. Though flawed, he is the hero of the piece, a good guy in a corrupt town full of shady characters.

The story is complicated, but in a good way.  The reader understands as much of what is going on as Marlowe himself.  The language is fantastic, and the atmosphere it conjures is evocative.  Slang is a prominent part of the dialogue, some of which I was familiar with, for example, referring to women as “dames”, but “frails” was new to me.

I am eager to read the second of Chandler’s novels to feature Philip Marlowe, Farewell, My Lovely.

Rating

4.5 / 5

Book Review: Mick’s Archaeology by Mick Aston

Quick Review (read on for the full review)

A fascinating, engaging book, and a treasure to read. Highly recommended!  5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

For Professor and Channel 4 personality Mick Aston, landscape archaeology remains his first love, because it provides so much information about how ordinary communities lived in the past. Environmental archaeology, experimental archaeology, the archaeology of buildings, and his great project at the village of Shapwick in Somerset are just some of the other subjects brought excitingly to life in Mick’s colourful and action-packed pages. Reading this book, it is easy to share the author’s basic conviction that “Archaeology is fun.”

Favourite Quote

I found it very hard to choose just the one, but in the end I went with this from the chapter “Monasteries”:

All of these monasteries were of course dissolved and most demolished, and their inhabitants pensioned off and dispersed in the decade 1530-40, in an act of privatisation (and vandalism) that makes Margaret Thatcher’s government look like a bunch of bungling amateurs.

Review

I have flicked through this book many times (a habit I have with non-fiction books where I read random chapters that grab my interest), but this is the first time I have read it from cover-to-cover.

I loved this book.  It was a fascinating, engaging read.  Professor Mick Aston’s love for archaeology was infectious, and helped to inspire at least one generation’s interest in the subject.  He’s a much missed character.

Full of photographs and anecdotes, as well as information on different aspects of archaeology, this was a treasure to read, and I hated having to put it down.  Having watched Professor Mick Aston on TV since I was a teenager, reading this book was almost like listening to an audiobook – something I don’t think I’ve experienced before. Wonderful!

The chapters covered a variety of topics, from the author’s early years in archaeology to his favourite subjects – buildings, monasteries and medieval settlements.  The final chapter on “Favourite Books and Recommended Reading” was a delight to peruse – who doesn’t like book lists? – and I’ve found a number of interesting titles to add to my reading list.

What I found most endearing is that for a book written to document his own love of the subject and career in it, he is quick to mention other people, be they colleagues, friends and students.  It’s not all about him, but what they achieved together.

If you enjoyed / enjoy watching Time Team, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you.  I am certain this is a book I will return to read, cover-to-cover, again and again.

Rating


 

Book Review: Footsteps in Time by Sarah Woodbury

* This review may contain spoilers * 
Footsteps in Time is the first book in The After Cilmeri series by Sarah Woodbury.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An easy read, full of interesting historical detail and an engaging setting.  Medieval Wales is brought to life with colour and ease. 3 /5

Summary (from goodreads)

In December of 1282, English soldiers ambushed and murdered Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales. His death marked the end of Wales as an independent nation and the beginning of over seven hundred years under the English boot.

Footsteps in Time is the story of what might have happened had Llywelyn lived.

And what happens to the two teenagers who save him.

Favourite Quote

“Not all men bend with the wind as easily as Dafydd.”

“Some bend; some break.”

Review

I’ve been meaning to read Sarah Woodbury’s books for a while now, and so I managed to cram Footsteps in Time into the very last few days of my Historical Fiction Month challenge, and yet it has taken me quite a while to review it.  The reason is in no small part that I was quite undecided how I felt about this book…

First, the concept: I loved it.  I enjoy a good time-travelling yarn – if it’s done properly. The historical detail was spot on, and thirteenth century Wales came to life as I read.  Having been to some of the areas mentioned I felt a connection to the setting throughout the story.  And, by throwing a “what if” question into the mix – in this case, what would have happened if Llywelyn ap Gruffydd hadn’t died at Cilmeri – adds a great deal of interest to the storyline.

What I didn’t like was the patronising tone one of the characters used in a couple of the passages.  And unfortunately, this seemed to undermine my enjoyment of the story.  More importantly though, I struggled to really connect with the characters. I would have loved to have seen more of the courtship between Anna and Math, but that time was skipped over for some reason.

So a bit of a mixed review: great historical detail and a wonderful setting on one hand, but a lack of connection to the characters on the other.  I really wanted to enjoy the story more than I did.  Will I read any more from this series?  I’m not sure.  I have a paperback of The Good Knight, the first in the Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mysteries, (another series by Sarah Woodbury) so I might turn my attention to that series first…

Rating

Oathbreaker

If you have a moment, please have a read of my latest novel.  It’s currently available to read for free via Wattpad…Click the book cover below for the link…Thank you so much for your support ♥

~ Oathbreaker is now available to read in full on Wattpad ~

Longlisted for The Wattys 2018

Summary

Eleri, priestess of the Green Lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn. Finally, the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill. But nothing is as it seems…

A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.

An oath is made. An oath is broken. And Eleri’s life changes forever…

*
Oathbreaker is a story inspired by ancient history, mythology, and the landscape. Set in the Iron Age, where there is no distinction between history and mythology, and where magic is as real as the ground beneath your feet, Oathbreaker charts the journey of Eleri, Priestess of the Green Lady, and the unusual quest she finds herself forced to make…

If you enjoy historical fiction, myths and legends, fantasy, adventure and romance, you might enjoy this too…

Bookish Reflections – August 2018

A monthly round up of all things bookish at Sammi Loves Books…It’s my attempt at becoming more accountable in my reading and reviewing habits…


In a nutshell

It’s been another busy month.  Historical Fiction Month was, as always super fun.  I also managed to read and review a non-HMF selection, a poetry pamphlet, which was a treasure to read.  I’ve also decided to close to review requests after 14 September 2018 until 2019.  Away from reading, my own book, Oathbreaker, which I’m currently posting to Wattpad a chapter at a time, has made The Wattys 2018 Longlist, which was unexpected but extremely exciting.  For those interested, you can read it for FREE here, but I’ll also write a post about it over the next few days too.

Books I’ve reviewed

Favourite read of the month

Poseidon’s Gold by Lindsey Davis / Surfacing by Annest Gwilym

Books I’ve bought (or been given)

  • The Green Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
  • The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You by Chloe Brotheridge

Books I’ve downloaded

  • None this month – thank heavens!

What I’ve been reading on Wattpad

  • Footsteps in Time by Sarah Woodbury

July’s “Read and Review” Goals*

  • The Merry Devils by Edward Marston
  • The Trip to Jerusalem by Edward Marston
  • Poseidon’s Gold by Lindsey Davis
  • The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland

* Light blue = review posted | Blue = review not posted | Black = did not read

What I’m reading and reviewing in September

  • Footsteps in Time by Sarah Woodbury (my last read for Historical Fiction Month – still reading)

For the rest of the month, I’m going unplanned.  My bookshelves are bursting, so there is plenty to choose from.

Goodreads Reading Challenge

My goal is 40.  I’ve read 28.  70% complete.  Currently 2 books ahead of schedule. (Yes, you read that right! This is the fourth month in a row that I’m ahead!)

Other reads (books not on Goodreads): 2 (Outside the Law by Anthony Berkeley | Surfacing by Annest Gwilym)

Total books read so far this year: 30

Book Review: Poseidon’s Gold by Lindsey Davis

Poseidon’s Gold is the fifth book in the Falco series by Lindsey Davis.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Wonderful as ever, Falco and the gang never disappoint.  A thoroughly engaging mystery, combined with sharp wit and historical detail.  A great book in a great series.  Highly recommended! 5 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

Rome AD 72: Marcus Didius Falco returns from a six-month mission to the German legions.  But trouble is in store for him: his apartment has been wrecked by squatters and an ex-legionary friend of his colourfully heroic brother Festus is demanding money, allegedly owed him as the result of one of Festus’ wild schemes.  Worse still, the only client Falco can get is his mother – who wants him to clear the family name.

Then just as Falco thinks things can only get better, fate takes a turn for the worse…The legionary is found viciously stabbed to death with Falco the prime suspect.  Now he has only three days to prove he is not a murderer, to trace the real suspect, amass evidence and win a fortune…

Favourite Quote

I narrowed it down to two…

He would have had more luck trying to dispute the philosophy that life is a bunch of whirling atoms with a half-naked, barely sober garland girl.

*

Filial piety was not my strong point but I was willing to join in a fight.

Review

I love this series and am thoroughly enjoying revisiting these books.

In this instalment we are introduced to even more of Falco’s family as Falco’s dead older brother, the war hero Festus, is causing a spot of bother from beyond the grave.  In an attempt to clear his name of murder, Falco is forced to reconnect with his estranged father and together they try to piece together the mystery of Festus’ last trip home.

Lindsey Davis brings the Roman world to life with ease and in amazing colour.  Her characters are always believable and well-thought out and her storylines are gripping and full of plot twists that keep you reading and guessing.  The humour that is infused with the tale never fails to entertain and the multiple story threads are deftly woven together.  Historically accurate and brimming with detail and description without slowing the pace or making the reading too heavy, there is a reason why Lindsey Davis is one of my favourite authors and these books, some of my favourites.

With this story set in Rome itself as opposed to elsewhere in the empire, all my favourite characters make an appearance: Petro, Falco’s mum, Helena’s dad and now Falco’s Pa has been added to that list too.  It was great getting reacquainted with Falco’s numerous sisters – Maia is my favourite – and their husbands and children…However, the limelight is never taken away from Falco and Helena; they are simply wonderful and witty and I adore them.

If you’ve yet to read any of the Falco novels, I can’t recommend them highly enough.  I would suggest that you start the series at the beginning, not because the individual novels don’t work as standalones, but because they are all fantastic and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to skip even a moment of Falco’s company.  Next up in the series is my personal favourite, Last Act in Palmyra, and I can’t wait…

Rating