When you have too many books…

I never thought it was possible to have too many books. If I’m being honest, I still think that. However, you can suffer from having not enough space to keep your books. This is an ailment I suffer with greatly, and have done for a good long while…

That’s why, for the past few years, I’ve been trying my hardest to downsize my book collection, because apparently it’s not safe to have them in piles going up the stairs – a solution I resorted to a few years ago, and almost regretted. I say almost because it did look amazing! Anyway, it’s a battle I’m not winning. In truth, I have more books than I can possibly read (ever), and there are many I won’t even consider giving away until I’ve read (or re-read) and reviewed them…

And so, I find myself returning to a question I’ve asked myself on numerous occasions. Why can’t I replace at least some of them with an ebook version? In my current predicament, it would make sense. But…there’s always a but…

The problem is, I love physical books. I like to hold them, I like the smell of them. There is just something special about a real book.  And when I spend so much time looking at my computer screen or my phone, do I really want to be looking at a screen when it comes to reading books too?

And then there is the financial aspect.  I have already paid for a copy of these books.  Do I really want to pay again just so I can give away what I already possess?  It does sound a little daft.

Then I had a little idea. Ebook versions of classics are available at relatively low prices, and some copies you can pick up for free.  Perhaps I could test this swap out on this genre and see how I feel about it…hmm…even as I’m typing, there is still this niggling voice at the back of my mind whispering, “Surely you don’t want to do this?  The classics always look so nice, with their old lived in covers, or faux leather-bound volumes?”

I can’t argue.  It’s true.  So instead I’ve made a promise with myself.  I don’t have to give away the classics I already own, but any new ones I want have to be in ebook form.  It won’t help with my book storage problem, but at least it shouldn’t get any worse…


The unexpected break at Sammi Loves Books is over…(updates)

Wow – I can’t believe it’s March already!  That was a surprisingly long and unexpected break from Sammi Loves Books (and everywhere else where I blog and write online, for that matter).  Anyway, now that the break is over, I can wish you a Happy New Year! 🙂

Goodreads Challenge 2018

Just because I haven’t been posting doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading.  After cramming all those last minute reviews in at the end of 2017 to hit my Goodreads challenge goal (which I did – Yay!), for 2018 I’ve lowered my target from 57 to 40 and I’m already about 15 titles in.  All I have to do is now start reviewing them and adding them to my Goodreads ‘read’ shelf and we’re away…

Blogging Schedule

I have a new schedule for posting on this blog in 2018, which comes into effect this week.  Tuesdays and Thursdays will be the days I publish book reviews and other related posts.  Of course, this is only a rough schedule; some weeks I may have to deviate from it but I am going to try as hard as possible to stick to it.

One Turn of The Wheel

Since last posting, my copies of my first book arrived in the post.  The book is called One Turn of The Wheel and is published by Three Drops Press.  You can find out more about the book by heading over to the publisher’s website (click the link below) where you will also find one of the tiny tales, The Goblin Dance, available to read.

One Turn of the Wheel by Sammi Cox

Review Requests

If you are waiting for a response to a review request, I hope to get back to you by the end of the week.  If you don’t hear from me by the start of the weekend, feel free to send me a gentle reminder to make sure I got it 🙂

Happy reading!

Sammi Loves Books – Year In Review 2015 Part 2

In Part 1 I looked over the reading themes and challenges I set myself for the year.  In Part 2 I shall look over the books I read and reviewed in 2015…

2015 stats

The figures were less than I was expecting…

  • I read and reviewed 56 stories this year – which is less than 2014, whose total was 63 😦
  • 35 of the reviews were for full-length novels
  • 21 of the reviews were for short stories

My Favourite Books of 2015

This is how my list of favourite reads of the year ended up:

  1. Shadows In Bronze (Lindsey Davis)
  2. The Silver Pigs (Lindsey Davis)
  3. A Morbid Taste for Bones (Ellis Peters)
  4. The Vanishing Witch (Karen Maitland)
  5. The Apothecary Rose (Candace Robb)
  6. Cocaine Blues (Kerry Greenwood)
  7. Except the Dying (Maureen Jennings)
  8. The Devil in the Marshalsea (Antonia Hodgson)
  9. Nefertiti (Michelle Moran)
  10. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) / The First Horseman (D.K.Wilson)

I must say that towards the end of the year it became harder and harder to add books to this list because I hated the idea of displacing other titles that were already there, and I do believe a number of them also deserve a mention:

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Aberystwyth Mon Amor by Malcolm Pryce
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Winter Garden Mystery by Carola Dunn
The Duchess and The Doll by Ellis Peters (Short Story)
Death of A Gossip by M.C.Beaton

Books I read but have yet to get around to reviewing…

I read much quicker than I review, so there are always books that slip through my review-net.  There is no reason for it, only that there are not enough hours in the day.  That being said, the books will remain on my desk until I have reviewed them…no matter how long it takes…

So which books are still waiting to be reviewed:

  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  • Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwall

The most popular reviews of the year were:

  1. The Sphinx Without A Secret by Oscar Wilde – Short Story Review
  2. The Black Veil by Charles Dickens – Short Story Review
  3. The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side by Agatha Christie – Book Review
  4. The Judges House by Bram Stoker – Short Story Review
  5. The Necklace by Guy du Maupassant – Short Story Review

Hope you all had a good 2015, and wishing you all a 2016 full of good books!

Short Story Review: Who Killed Dido? By Amy Myers

Who Killed Dido? by Amy Myers is a vey light-hearted look at the death of Dido, the queen of Carthage, told from the viewpoint of Aphrodite.

When Hermes, messenger of the gods, announces the news, all the gods and goddesses present appear shocked.  As questions begin to be asked on Mount Olympus about the death of Dido, Aphrodite begins her own inquiry into the queen’s death to ensure that neither she nor her son, the Trojan refugee, Aeneas, the former lover of the dead queen, cannot be implicated.  But was it murder or suicide?

It soon becomes clear that there are a good number of people who had it in for the queen, including her brother, her neighbour and her sister, and the death of the queen is far more complicated than the goddess first thought.  But can Aphrodite get to the bottom of the mystery before anyone else finds out the truth?

Who Killed Dido? is a modern retelling of the demise of the queen of Carthage, and the language and the style reflects that.  The characters of the gods and goddesses are shown as they appear in traditional myths, especially their love for bickering with each other.  All-in-all, a colourful, humourous historical short story.

This short was found in Murder Through the Ages: A Bumper Anthology of Historical Mysteries, ed. Maxim Jakubowski.

Short Story Review: A Byzantine Mystery by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

John the Eunuch is the Lord Chamberlain to the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian, whose capital Constantinople is in a state of unrest.  The Church of the Holy Wisdom of God which houses a fragment of the true cross has been looted and then set aflame, and the Emperor, naturally wants John the Eunuch to get it back.

A Byzantine Mystery is a good, quick read set in the often overlooked Byzantine period which was refreshing.  I don’t think I have read any fiction set during this period of history before.  The character of John the Eunuch was interesting and engaging, and I would certainly like to read more in this series.

I came across this short story in The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, ed. Mike Ashley.

Book Review: The Eleventh Question by Dianne Gray

The Eleventh Question is a fabulous tale…one that had me in tears a few times!  Indeed, I think it is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read, and no doubt one I shall return to read again and again…

The characters are believable and the storyline captivating; in fact, once I began this book, I could not stop reading it until I had reached the end!  Well done to the author for writing such an endearing, heart-warming tale that has the ability to move between the worlds of fantasy and real life with ease.  On the one hand we are following the tale of Arista, a fifteen year old girl who, whilst going through a difficult period in her life, is faced with the big philosophical questions that we as humans face.  On the other hand we have Caro facing questions of a more spiritual nature.  These threads are woven together splendidly as we are taken through two separate journeys of loss and confusion leading us towards hope, inspiration, understanding and ultimately, empowerment.

Arista’s tale is set on one side of the world, whilst Caro’s is set on the other.

Arista’s story involves her struggle with bullying at school and a mother facing struggles of her own – an abusive boyfriend, alcohol and gambling.  Eventually, Arista is sent to stay with a foster-carer, Frankie, who is a rural vet; however, it is the surprise arrival of Archie, a well-behaved and well-trained rottweiler, that in the end leads the teenager to a place where she feels like she belongs and is happy.

Caro’s is the aduyante (helper / acolyte) of a powerful Seer named Diosa, who waits and watches for those who ask the big questions.  Together, they witness Arista’s tale and all she faces as reaches the questions, one by one.  It is Caro’s job to describe the emotions Arista is feeling to the Seer, but along the way, he finds himself trying to understand his own feelings and emotions, and place in the world.

The Eleventh Question makes you see the world around you in a different light.  It is certainly a captivating read, one that can inspire and empower the reader.

Highly Recommended!

I downloaded this ebook for free when the author had the book on promotion at Smashwords.

Book Review: Battleaxe by Sara Douglass (Book One of The Axis Trilogy)

Battleaxe is the first book in The Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglas.  As you work your way through the book, you become instantly aware that there are a plethora of threads woven together to create the story.  This makes it both crammed full of detail but also more complex perhaps than the average fantasy book.

The story centres around the illegitimate son of a dead princess, named Axis.  He is the ‘BattleAxe’, the leader of the ‘Axe Wielders’, a prestigious fighting force in the land of Achar.  His connection to the Royal family is not recognised by them.  Borneheld, the King’s son and heir, and the leader of the army has a strong hatred for Axis, his illegitimate half brother.

Borneheld has to return to his border castle in the north; the Forbidden, wraith-like monsters only remembered in legend, seem to have returned.  Axis is charged with taking Borneheld’s beautiful bride-to-be, Faraday, to the castle, but along the way, they fall in love.  Magic, myth, love, religion, prophecy and war…nothing and no one is as they seem, and the world that Douglass has created is vivid, if a little formulaic at times.

It was fast-paced for the majority of the story, though I felt the beginning was a little slow.  The characters on the whole were engaging and believable.  The setting was richly described, but some of the terms used I didn’t quite like, StarMan being one of them.  That being said, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.  The various twists and turns in the tale kept you guessing as to what was going to happen next.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.

Review of Dosterra by K Esta (serialised fiction – chapters 1-6)

For those of you who have read some of my posts hereabout, you will have come to know that perhaps sci-fi is not my favourite genre of book.  So, when I read an email that arrived in my inbox a few days ago, from the wonderful K Esta asking if I would be willing to review a sci-fi serial, I did pause, briefly, but then thought that I am always willing to give something new a read – why not a sci-fi story?

The story, Dosterra, can be found on a serial fiction site called JukePop Serials.  It is free to sign up to, and stories are published a chapter at a time.  If you like the chapter you have read, you can vote for it, helping to raise the ranking of the story and hopefully the profile of the author! Yay!  You can read the first chapter of a story without signing up, so go and check it out!

The ‘blurb’:

Dosterra is a wintry mining planet. With a monopoly on natural resources and transition technology, it is the undisputed leader of the Earth Origin Colonies. But Lexie has stumbled across something that threatens their dominance. What if their power was built on a lie? On the run, she’s forced to seek the help of Iden, a scientist with the Transition Regulation Centre, though his motives for helping her are unclear.

The story begins dramatically, with a friend of Lexie’s, Tem, turning up at her home bearing some bad news: the authorities are looking for her, and they have to leave immediately. With the aid of some stolen equipment they travel back in time twenty four hours, in the hope that they can avoid being caught.  When Lexie finds out that Iden, a former friend who she believes is responsible for the loss of her job five years previously, is behind the procuring of the equipment, she is not happy.  However, after narrowly avoiding being caught for a second time, Lexie and Tem are forced to go to Iden for help.  Lexie is unsure whether or not they can trust him, but it seems they have no other choice.

Not only was what I have read so far well written but I, a sci-fi newbie, was completely drawn into the story, which given the genre, did surprise me.  The characters were engaging, as was the interplay between them and the descriptions of the places mentioned were vivid.Although I am not an expert in the world of sci-fi, and some of the terminology was beyond my grasp (that, of course, is my own fault, and not the fault of the author) it did not detract from my enjoyment .  The story was pretty fast-paced from the get-go, and I will certainly be checking in to see how Lexie fares in the future.  Currently there are only six chapters available for reading, but I am excited to learn just how the story develops and what K Esta has in store for the characters.

My verdict: definitely worth a go, whether you are a sci-fi fan or not.  I myself, am eagerly anticipating the publishing of the next chapter because the last one ended with quite a bit of suspense.

Book Review: The High Lord by Trudi Canavan

The High Lord is the third and final instalment in The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan.  Having read The Magician’s Guild and The Novice, by the time it came to read the final book in the series I was already hooked and I just knew that I was going to love this one, whatever happened in it.

The High Lord continues on with the story of Sonea.  She is still a novice, studying magic at the university, and yet the secret that she had learned by accident when her powers still threatened to consume her and everyone around her, is now even more relevant, not just to her, but to the whole of Kyralia.  As she does her best to keep this secret and protect those who might be harmed should the secret be revealed, things take an unexpected turn and she finds herself at the centre of it.  The repercussions could be disastrous if word gets out about the secret, but not in the way she had first anticipated.

Intrigue, black magic, love, trust and unwavering loyalty are themes that are dealt with in The High Lord, and twists and turns in the story keep you engaged throughout the entire book. I can honestly say that I felt I was there, with Sonea, as the dramatic events unfolded around her.

By the time I had reached the second half of the book, there was never any question of me putting it down until I had finished reading the whole thing, apart from a few brief pauses where I was consumed with anguish as the end got ever closer.  This is how I personally measure a good book and great series; if I feel traumatised and grief-stricken, knowing that it is or soon will be over, how can I not have enjoyed it?  How can I not think that the author is amazing?

As the book draws to a close, all loose threads are tied up, all questions are answered, and the series is rounded off perfectly.  This book is everything a good fantasy book should be, and more than that, it is everything a final book in a series should be.

This was my favourite book out of the three, by far.  It had the most action, adventure, and heroics than the other books, but be warned, there is sadness also.  I was a little dismayed with the ending but I can see why it ended the way it did.  Not much of a criticism, I suppose, but I do feel terrible for voicing it.  I just wished that it had ended differently.  😦  However, that didn’t detract from how well-received the book was, not a bit.

This is the best fantasy book and fantasy series I have read in a long time.  I fell in love with many of the characters instantly, and the descriptions of the places were vivid enough for me to imagine them, to feel as if I too was there.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Book Review: The Novice by Trudi Canavan

The Novice is the second book in The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan, a series that I am completely immersed in at this moment in time.  They are, quite frankly, a treasure.

The Novice follows on from where The Magician’s Guild left off.  Sonea, the slum dweller who had surprised everyone, including herself, when she discovered she had powerful magic, is now studying at The Magicians’ Guild.  However, not everyone is happy that there is a former slum dweller in their midsts, tainting an institution that has become solely identified with the Houses, the richest inhabitants of Imardin.

This instalment, moves away from where she has come from and instead focuses on her transition into the world of Magicians.  The plot twists and turns as the author shows us glimpses of the world outside of Imardin, introducing new characters and developing those of whom we are already acquainted.

Although in the first book, the villain is only hinted at, in the second we are offered a little more to go on.  However, whether they really are villain or not, and whether their crimes are what we are led to believe, are questions we carry with us into the third and final part of the trilogy.  Canavan’s ability to reveal just enough is no doubt a credit to her as a writer, and why these books are unquestioningly a success.

Bullying, jealousy and prejudice are important themes throughout this book, as is learning how to overcome obstacles in the best possible way, the right way.  It is not hard to empathise with Sonea’s situation and the issues raised are dealt with sympathetically.

Although I enjoyed both books in the series so far, and rated them the same (4 out of 5), I do believe that The Novice was faster paced and had an equal measure of action and intrigue throughout.

To quote how I rounded up the review of book one, for I believe there is not much I can to it:

“This is a great book and I am certain that I will read it again.  The author can spin an engaging narrative, one that ensures that if the reader has to put the book down, it is begrudged.”

I really enjoyed The Novice. As the sequel to The Magician’s Guild, this book was fast-paced, the character and story development, engaging…a real page-turner. I could not put this down and will be starting the final book in the series immediately. I am so happy to have come across these books and this author. Great stuff.

4 out of 5

(My Goodreads review of The Novice by Trudi Canavan)