Best Books of 2018 So Far

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. We’re roughly half way through the year so I thought I’d share the best books I’ve read in the last six months. Since I’m writing this a few weeks before posting, I can’t tell you exactly how many books I’ve read so far but at the point of writing this I’ve read 33 book, which means I’m behind on my Goodreads reading challenge. I have eight books to share with you guys so let’s get started.
  • Under Heaven / Guy Gavriel Kay / ★★★★★ / 
  • The Beast Player / Nahoko Uehashi / ★★★★★
  • Revelations / book 4 of the Shardlake series / C. J. Sansom / ★★★★★
  • Wrath of Empire / book 2 of the God of Blood and Powder trilogy / Brian McClellan / ★★★★★
Honourable mentions: The Dragon Queen by William Andrews, Heartstone by C. J. Sansom, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay and The Wolf by Leo Carew.
I’m having a pretty good reading year so far and found a couple new all time favourite books. Hopefully the second half of the year will be good in terms of reading too. What are your favourite books you’ve read so far this year? Have you read any of the books I mentioned. I hope you are having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa

Children of Blood and Bone / Tomi Adeyemi

Title / Children of Blood and Bone
Author / Tomi Adeyemi
Publication Date / 2018
Genre / YA fantasy
Series or standalone / book 1 – Legacy of Orïsha trilogy
Page no. / 531
Overall Rating / ★★
Goodreads synopsis: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

 

So I’d been debating about whether to pick this book up for a while. There’s been quite a lot of hype surrounding this book but after hearing a lot of good things about it I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately this one didn’t work for me. Firstly, I think it’s fantastic this is an African-inspired fantasy, because that’s not something that I’ve seen a lot of in the fantasy genre. I enjoyed the setting and mythology of this book, although at times it felt quite shallow. Although I love that it introduces the reader to Nigerian mythology and culture, I can’t help but feel that it was pared down for the masses. I’m not criticising this, however I would loved to have more depth to this world. There is minimal world building in this book but it had so much potential. To me world building is an important part of a fantasy book and unfortunately it’s lacking in this book. There are so many details missing that could have given the reader a better understanding of the world and characters. Speaking of the characters, I was not a fan of the protagonist, Zélie. She consistently makes bad decisions and likes to lament the fact that no one understands her. Cue eye rolling. Amari and Tzain had potential but were underdeveloped in my opinion, and all I’m going to say about Inan is that he bugged me all the way through the book. Generally the characters and their relationships lacked depth.

 

OK, onto the main issue I had with this book – the romance. From the moment the love interest is introduced, you just knew how it was going to play out and it bugged me all the way through. To me the romance felt very forced and manufactured. There wasn’t any connection between them and I just couldn’t get behind it. They literally hate each-others guts and then within like 5 minutes of meeting they love each other. I’m sorry but no. This was a huge instance of insta-love. I don’t mind the whole enemy to lovers idea when it’s done right but this romance had no time to develop naturally. At one point Zélie is tortured and the first thing she does after being rescued is have dream sex with the love interest. Seriously? Get your priorities straight. Basically I really disliked the romance and it detracted from the story. The other main issue I had was the writing. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the short sentences and I found the writing to be so repetitive. Not only did this mean that I struggled to get into the flow of the writing, but it also meant that it dragged for me. I read a lot of long books so 531 pages shouldn’t be an issue but due to the writing this book felt longer to me. I thought about DNFing it multiple times. The pacing is uneven throughout, which also means the book drags a bit. Some parts are so slow and then it suddenly switches to about ten different things happening at once, which can be quite confusing. The plot had potential but I found it to be predictable and I wasn’t the biggest fan of how it progressed.

 

Overall I wasn’t a fan of this book. To me it felt like quite a generic YA fantasy book, although I think it is great that this is an African inspired fantasy book. Now I am definitely in the minority here. There are a ton of good reviews on Goodreads and I think if you are a big YA fantasy reader then you will enjoy this, but it didn’t work for me. Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Twenty Questions Book Tag

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. As you can see from the title of this post, today I have a tag for you guys. I don’t know who created this but I liked the questions so I thought I’d give it a go. Let me know if you know you created this tag so I can credit them. As the title suggests there are 20 bookish questions to answer so let’s get started.

 

1. HOW MANY BOOKS IS TOO MANY BOOKS IN A BOOK SERIES?
Well I think I would say any more than five is starting to get too big… but 7 is probably my limit. I think I generally prefer shorter series as I think sometimes longer series can be dragged out too long. Most of the series I read are trilogies but I do also enjoy longer series.

 

2. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CLIFFHANGERS?
When you have to wait for the next book to come out, they can be a little frustrating but generally I enjoy them. They can add a good level of suspense to your reading experience.

 

3. HARDCOPY OR PAPERBACK?
I prefer the look of hardbacks but overall I prefer paperbacks. The majority of the books on my shelves are paperbacks and if I can stand the wait I tend to buy paperbacks, instead of hardbacks.

 

4.  FAVOURITE BOOK?
There are so many to choose from… some of my favourites include Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, the Pellinor series by Alison Croggon, Watership Down by Richard Adams, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Fudoki by Kij Johnson, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, the Realm of the Elderling series by Robin Hobb and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.

 

5. LEAST FAVOURITE BOOK?
The first thing that comes to mind are the first two books in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I read the first two books but then I gave up. I don’t understand why the series is so popular. Another one that kind of makes me angry whenever I think about it is The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel. That book was so frustrating.

 

6. LOVE TRIANGLES, YES OR NO?
NO! I have never, and will never, like love triangles. If I hear that a book has a love triangle in it then I am immediately less likely to pick it up. Please stop writing love triangles.

 

7. THE MOST RECENT BOOK YOU JUST COULDN’T FINISH?
The last book I couldn’t finish was The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. I had heard so many great things about this trilogy but I just couldn’t get into this book.

 

8. A BOOK YOU’RE CURRENTLY READING?
Well I wrote a load of post in advance, including this one, for my holiday so I have no idea what I’ll be reading when I post this. Hopefully I’ll remember and be able to update this but if not then let’s just move onto the next question :).

 

9. LAST BOOK YOU RECOMMENDED TO SOMEONE?
Probably either Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay or The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi, because I adored both books and will recommend them to as many people as possible :).

 

10. OLDEST BOOK YOU’VE READ?
In terms of a book, I think it’s Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, which was originally published in 1811. For a play it would be Hamlet by Shakespeare, which was originally publish in 1603.

 

11. NEWEST BOOK YOU’VE READ?
Probably The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, which was released this year in May. I wasn’t the biggest fan of it but I’ve seen a lot of good reviews for it.

 

12. FAVOURITE AUTHOR?
I couldn’t name just one so some of my favourites include Guy Gavriel Kay, Robin Hobb, Kazuo Ishiguro, Elizabeth Gaskell, Madeleine Thien, Kij Johnson, Jen Williams, Ken Liu, C. J. Sansom, Garth Nix, Jane Austen, Helen Dunmore and Adrian Tchaikovsky. To name a few :).

 

13. BUYING BOOKS OR BORROWING BOOKS?
I definitely buy books a lot more then I borrow them but I definitely want to borrow more. Libraries are such a great resource and I don’t use it enough. I do love buying and owning books though.

 

14. A BOOK YOU DISLIKE THAT EVERYONE ELSE SEEM TO LOVE?
The first thing that comes to mind is the Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

 

15.  BOOKMARKS OR DOG-EARS?
Bookmarks.

 

16. A BOOK YOU CAN ALWAYS REREAD?
I have a few books I love to read including Watership Down by Richard Adams, the Pellinor series by Alison Croggon, the Old Kingdom trilogy byGarth Nix and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I love rereading books but I haven’t done a lot recently. I definitely want to do more rereading this year.

 

17. CAN YOU READ WHILE HEARING MUSIC?
Yes, I can and I do a lot of the time.  I actually have tinnitus in my left ear so I always have some kind of background noise going when I’m reading.

 

18. ONE POV OR MULTIPLE POV’S?
Either, to be honest.

 

19. DO YOU READ A BOOK IN ONE SITTING OR OVER MULTIPLE DAYS?
I tend to read books over multiple days, unless it’s a particularly short book or a graphic novel. I would say I’m quite a fast reader but I don’t tend to read a book in just one sitting.

 

20. ONE BOOK YOU READ BECAUSE OF THE COVER?
The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi.

 

That’s it for this tag. I hope you enjoyed it :). Have you read any of the books I mentioned? I tag anyone who wants to answer these questions. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

TBR: Female Authors

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. So I was wondering what to post about and after realising that the majority of books I’ve read so far this year are written by men, I thought I’d share some books I want to read by women. Of the 29 authors I’ve read so far this year, only 9 of them are women, so I’ve got ten women authors on my TBR to share with you guys. The first five are new to me and the other five are authors I’ve already read one or more of their books, if that makes sense. Let’s get started.

 

 

That’s it for today. There are more female authors I could share but I thought 10 would be a good number to share. Have you guys read any books by these authors? Let me know if you have any recommendations for me. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Charmcaster / Sebastien de Castell

Title / Charmcaster
Author / Sebastien de Castell
Publication Date / 2018
Genre / Fantasy
Series or standalone / book 3 of the Spellslinger series
Page no. / 400
Star Rating / ★★★★

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Goodreads synopsis: Kellen has begun to master his spellslinging and the Argosi tricks for staying alive, and he and Reichis have found a career that suits them both: taking down mercenary mages who make people’s lives miserable. But Ferius is concerned that Kellen is courting disaster . . .

 

*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
This was a fantastic instalment to this 6 book fantasy series. I have done a review of the first two books if you want to my thoughts on them too. Having really enjoyed the first two books, I fully expected to love this instalment and it didn’t disappoint. It was great to be back with these characters and in this world. This book was fantastic from the very start and I loved the progression of the story. Charmcaster is just as fast paced and entertaining as the previous two books. I find this series kind of addictive and once I’ve started reading I don’t want to put the book down. The plot is compelling throughout and the author does a great job at maintaining the flow of the story. Although the pacing is good in this series overall, I found that the first two books start off quite slow but I didn’t have that issue with this book. From the very beginning, the pacing was good and it was maintained throughout the 400 pages. I loved that we got to see more of the world and the author does a fantastic job at building on what we already know of it. As in the previous books, the magic system is wonderfully written and so unique. It is definitely one of the main strengths of this series. I love that the protagonist isn’t the most powerful person but has to rely on his wits to keep himself alive too. Speaking of the protagonist, I love the characters in this series and their development in this instalment was great. The way the relationships develop in this book was such a pleasure to read and I love the banter between them, especially between Kellen and Reichis. Both the old and new characters are so well written and I loved learning a little about Ferius’s past. If you can’t tell I think this was a fantastic instalment to this very entertaining series.

 

Overall I really enjoyed this sequel and can’t wait to see how sees progress in the rest of the series. If you enjoy fantasy books, especially ones that are fast paced and filled with humour, then I highly recommend checking this series out. If you’ve enjoyed the first two books in the series then you will enjoy this instalment too. I know this is quite a short review but hopefully it means my review is concise. Have you read this book? Or do you plan to start this series? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Travelling with anxiety…

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. As you can see from the title this is going to be a non bookish post. Mental health is an important topic to me and so I wanted to chat about it with you guys today. I’ve been struggling with anxiety for quite a few years now and although I work on ways to improve myself, it can still can hard at times. So I wanted to talk about how I deal with my anxiety and since I’m going away I thought I’d talk about travelling with anxiety. I’ve tried diazepam as well as herbal remedies but none of them seemed to work. Instead I’ve had to find ways to manage it.
Although I love travelling and seeing new places, the process of getting there fuels a lot of anxiety for me. Normally we would fly to our destination but this year we’re having to do things a little differently. My dad had an eye operation and so he can’t fly, which means that we will be driving and catching ferries to get to Sicily. While flying is definitely more stressful for me, I’m not looking forward to being stuck in a car for a long time. For me, being stuck in one place with no way out isn’t very nice. I know we’re not flying this time but I wanted to make this post anyway. I think it is so important to have an open discussion about this.
Things that work for me:
  • Be organised – I make packing list and get things together in advance.
  • Music – listening to music helps me to settle into my headspace and hopefully shut out whatever is going on around me.
  • Organised bag – I like to have everything I need in my handbag, from my kindle to earphones to hand cream. I also like to have a stress ball with me because a lot of my anxiety manifests itself in fidgeting hands.
  • Remind myself that I’ve travelled quite a lot in the past and it’s always been fine
  • Stay hydrated
  • Use a stress ball – my anxiety tends to manifest itself into fidgety hand
  • Wear comfy clothing while travelling

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Top tips:
  • Do plenty of research on your destination
  • Travel during off peak season so it’s not super crowded
  • Travel with someone you trust
  • Don’t assume that your anxiety will hinder you
  • Have all important things (e.g. ID, documents, and credit cards) in one place
  • Make a packing list
  • Pack some of your favourite snacks
  • Distract yourself
  • Be kind to yourself and don’t push yourself too hard
  • Focus on your breathing, particularly if you are feeling very anxious
  • Try out meditation/breathing apps such as Headspace and Calm
  • Consult with a doctor and/or therapist
If you can figure out the reason behind your anxiety, because a better understanding of it will hopefully mean you can manage it better. Despite the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to travel to quite a few places in my life I still find it a very anxious experience. I’ve just found ways to come with it as best I can. What are your tips on travelling with anxiety? I hope you have a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Since it’s roughly half way through the year I thought I’d do this tag and talk about the books I’ve read so far this year. I’ve done this tag around this time for a couple of years now and I think it’s a good way to look back at the last six months of reading. This tag was co-created by Chanmi and Ely. Let’s get started.

 

Best Book You’ve Read Yet
This would have to go to Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. This book was fantastic and it went straight onto my favourites list once I’d finished it. I have a full review of it if you’re interested in more of my thoughts.

 

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far
I’m going to cheat a bit with this one and talk about three sequels, because I loved them all. The first one I’m going to mention is Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan, which is the second book in the Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy. The second one is The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams (full review), which is the second book in the Winnowing Flame trilogy. I loved the continuation of the plot and the character development in this sequel. I cannot wait for the third and final book to be released. The third sequel is Revelation by C. J. Sansom, which is the fourth book in the Shardlake series. It was probably my favourite book of the series so far and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To
I have so many I could talk about. I feel like I haven’t been that great at reading new releases so far this year. So some of the new releases I haven’t read yet but want to include Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, A Veil of Spears by Bradley Beaulieu, Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan, Circe by Madeleine Miller, King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist and The Hyena and the Hawk by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

 

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
Empire of Ashes / book 3 in the Draconis Memoria series / Anthony Ryan / 5th July
Redemption’s Blade / Adrian Tchaikovsky / 26th July
A River of Stars / Vanessa Hua / 14th August
Bloody Rose / book 2 of the Band series / Nicholas Eames / 30th August
Salvation / Peter F. Hamilton / 9th September
The Ember Blade / Chris Wooding / 20th September
Tombland / book 7 in the Shardlake series / C. J. Sansom
The Consuming Fire / book 2 in the Interdependency series / John Scalzi / 18th October

 

Biggest Disappointment
Well I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a disappointing but one book that just didn’t work for me was The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. I had heard so many great things about this book and the whole trilogy, but I got over 100 pages through and it just wasn’t working for me.

 

Biggest Surprise

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I could pick Under Heaven for this one too but since I’ve mentioned it already I’ll share a different book. The first one that comes to mind is The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi. I was initially drawn in by the cover and the blurb sounded interesting so I picked this one up on a bit of a whim and I am so glad I did. I loved this book. I hope more of her books are translated into English.

 

Favourite New Author (Debut or New To You)
This has to go to Guy Gavriel Kay. I’ve only read two books by him so far but I loved both and I want to work my way through all of his books. High up on my TBR list of his books is Tigana but as I’ve said I want to read all of his books so we’ll see what I read next :).

 

Newest Favourite Character
Wei Song from Under Heaven, Shuyan and Nishima from the Initiate Brother duology and Elin from The Beast Player.

 

Book That Made You Cry
I don’t have an answer for this one, because I don’t really cry when reading books. So onto the next questions.

 

Book That Made You Happy
Any of the amazing books I’ve read so far, I guess.

 

Favourite Book to Film Adaptation
Well I’ve only seen one this year, which was the adaptation of Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer and it was fantastic. The film definitely took some different approaches to things and deviated from the book a bit but it was a fantastic film. I thought the acting was great, the cinematography was so good and I just thought it was really well done.

 

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year
Probably the hardback edition of Circe by Madeleine Miller. It is seriously pretty and I love the details on the naked hardback.

 

What Book Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year
To be honest any book sitting on my bookshelves… which includes The Ice by Laline Paull, Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie.

 

That’s it for this tag. What are some of your favourite books you’ve read this year? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa