Li Du series / Elsa Hart

Title / Jade Dragon Mountain and The White Mirror
Author / Elsa Hart
Publication Date / 2015 and 2016
Genre / Mystery/Historical fiction
Series or standalone / Trilogy
Page no. / 368 and 320
Star Rating / ★★★.5

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This is a mystery, historical fiction trilogy set in 18th century China. It follows Li Du, who was once a imperial librarian but is now in exile, as he unfolds the mysteries set in front of him. In book 1 he must unravel the facts behind the recent murder of an astronomer. As this is a series review, I will not go into details of the plot of either books.

 

The first thing that drew me to these books was the setting and I am happy to report that it didn’t disappoint. Hart has done a fantastic job at creating a vivid look into 18th century China. Now I don’t know a whole lot about this time period so I can’t comment on authenticity, but I will say that I was immersed in this world. It was such an interesting backdrop to each of the stories and it seems like Hart has spent quite a lot of time writing it. I loved that we got to explore more of the world in the sequel. Although I have not read the third book, I do know that Li Du has to return to Beijing, so I’m looking forward to seeing that setting. The writing is good in both books and I found it easy to settle into the flow of the story. Each book was quite a quick read for me because once I started reading I didn’t want to put the book down.

 

In terms of the plot, each of these books was compelling. The pacing is quite slow at times, but I think it was well suited to the story. The focus is more on collecting all of the facts and trying to figure it all out, rather than making this an action packed read. While I enjoyed both of these books, I personally liked the story of the second book a little bit more. For whatever reason I found it to be slightly more engaging. I also think that the second book felt more assured. Hart seems to have really settled into the flow of writing these stories and characters. Speaking of the characters, this trilogy contains a great cast of characters. Li Du is a fantastic protagonist and I’ve enjoyed his development through these two books. The other characters are also well written, if a little lacking at times. Overall though I really liked the cast of characters in both books and look forward to seeing how they progress in the third book. The ‘villains’ could perhaps be a little more fleshed out, but it’s only a minor complaint.

 

Overall this are enjoyable reads with a fantastic setting and interesting characters. The story continues in City of Ink which was released in August 2018. I will definitely be checking it out at some point in the near future. Have you read these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

T5W: Books I Want To Before 2019

Top 5 Wednesday was originally created and run by Lainey aka gingerreadslainey (Youtube channel) but it is now being run by Sam aka Thoughts on tomes (Youtube channel). Each week there is a different topic. You can check out the groups Goodreads page here for any more information and the future topics. This week’s topic is books you want to read before 2019. I could put all the books currently sitting on my shelves unread but I’ll try to narrow it down to five books. Two of the books are 2019 ARCs I’m excited for and the other three are 2018 releases I’d like to read before the end of the year. Let’s get started.

 

 

 

It’s really not that long till the end of the year now, so I’m hoping to get to all of these books but we’ll see. I’m excited to get to all of these books though. Hopefully I won’t be distracted by other books or video games. I’ve actually managed to read the majority of 2018 book releases that I was excited for, so I’m pretty happy about that. What books do you want to get to before 2019? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

 

Pippa

 

 

 

Book Haul

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Today I’ve got a book haul to share with you all. I’ve been lucky enough to receive a couple of books from publishers and I’ve also picked up a few books myself, so it seemed like a good idea to post a book haul. Let’s get started.

 

ARCs sent to me:
The Winter of the Witch / book 3 of the Winternight trilogy / Katherine Arden 
From Ebury Publishing – I’ve loved the first two books in this trilogy so I am very excited to read this final sequel. If you haven’t checked out these books yet I highly recommend you do – each book has been so good and I have high hopes for this book too.

 

The Priory of the Orange Tree / Samantha Shannon / Bloomsbury Publishing
From Bloomsbury Publishing –  this is an epic fantasy book, and you guys know I love fantasy. I love the Bone Season series by the same author so I have high hopes for this book.

 

 

Books I picked up myself:
Hokusai: A Life in Drawing by Henri-Alexis Baatsch
For anyone curious, Hokusai is one of my all time favourite artists, so I’m always interested in books about him. This is a fantastic book. It showcases his work really well and I’ve loved flipping through it recently.

 

Bloody Rose / book 2 of the Band series / Nicholas Eames
I really enjoyed King of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames so I’m looking forward to reading more from him. I’ve heard great things about this sequel, which makes me even more excited to read it.

 

White Chrysanthemum / Mary Lynn Bracht
I picked this one up on a bit of a whim, because the synopsis sounds really good. I think it’s going to be quite a hard read due to the time period, but I think it’s also going to be interesting.

 

I am also about to start a distance learning course on the anatomy and physiology of dogs and cats, so I have a couple of books related to the course. First is Animal Biology and Care by Sue Dallas and Emily Jewell, and the second is Essentials of Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology by Victoria Aspinall.

 

Those are all the books I’ve picked up recently. I am so excited to get to The Winter of the Witch and The Priory of the Orange Tree. Thank you so much to the publishers for sending them my way. Of course, I will let you know my thoughts on each of these books once I’ve read them. Have you read any of these books? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

Blood of the Gods / David Mealing

Title / Blood of the Gods
Author / David Mealing
Publication Date / August 2018
Series or standalone / book 2 of 3
Page no. / 736
Overall Rating / ★★★★


This is the second book in the Ascension Cycle, which is an epic fantasy trilogy. It follows closely after the events of the first book, The Soul of the World. Like it’s predecessor, this sequel is split into four sections, each marked by a change in season. These sections are split into four character perspectives; Sarine, Erris, Arak’Jur and Tigai. At the end of each section there is an interlude, which features more perspectives.  Each book in the series so far also provides a map of the world. So far, the first two books have started in Spring.  This is a review of a sequel so there may be minor spoilers ahead, but I will not be discussing the plot in detail.

After reading the first book earlier this year, Blood of the Gods became one of my most anticipated books releases of 2018. I had high hopes for this sequel and I am happy to say that it didn’t disappoint. The story continues to follow the three main characters (Sarine, Erris and Arak’Jur), along with the additional perspective of a new character, Tigai. Like the first book, each perspective has a distinct voice and each chapter is as compelling as the last.  Since this is a sequel, we have already been introduced to the majority of characters and so the author can really focus on the growth of each character. This is one of the strengths of this book, in my opinion. The author manages to keep each character consistent with what we know of them from the first book, while developing them in ways that keep them engaging. Like the first book, the characters are fantastic, and I cannot wait to see how things progress for them all in the third and final book.

In terms of the plot, this sequel was fantastic. The story continues soon after the events of the first book and it is taken in a direction that I loved. I found it was easy to settle back into the flow of the story. The twists and turns within the plot mean this it’s an engaging read that will keep you gripped until the very end. Mealing does a great job at weaving all these plot threads together without sacrificing any character development or world building. However, the length of it does mean that it drags a little in certain places. This wasn’t a big issue for me personally, but it may be something to be aware of going into this rather large book. Personally, I loved the plot development in this sequel and felt that the pacing was well suited to the story. The military aspects and battle scenes are also really well done. Once I started reading this book, I didn’t want to put it down.

Once again, the magic system is a strength in this series. There are three distinct systems; leyline manipulation, a spirit-based system and magic possessed by a small dragon companion called kaas. One of my main complaints of the first book is that there wasn’t a focus on any of the systems, so I felt like I didn’t have a good understanding of any of them. However, in this sequel the author does a good job at exploring these systems more. There was just enough focus on it to expand on what we learnt in book 1, while also still keeping some of it mysterious and intriguing. Like the magic system, the world building is fantastic. I loved the world in the first book and I love it even more now. You can really see the time and effort that Mealing’s put into this world. In my opinion the magic systems and world building feel more assured in this sequel. The world isn’t the most unique within the fantasy genre, but it is richly written with interesting cultures and a great map.

The story will continue in Chains of the Earth, but as far as I know there is no release date as of yet. Overall, I thought this was a fantastic continuation of this trilogy. Like the first book, this sequel contains unique magic systems, a well written world and a fantastic cast of characters. I think these books are seriously underrated and I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you love epic fantasy books. If you enjoyed the first book, then you will love this sequel too and if you haven’t read the first book you should really check it out. I am eagerly anticipating the release of the third and final book, hopefully sometime next year. Have you started this series? I’d love to know your thoughts. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

Pippa

Waiting on Wednesday…

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s time to share some book releases coming out this month. I quite like sharing these posts talking about some exciting book releases each month. At least when I have enough book releases to talk about :). I have a few books to share with you guys. There are probably a lot more releases this month but these are the ones I’m aware of and interested in. Let’s get started.

 

 

Are there any book releases you’re excited for this month? I’d love to know what you guys are waiting for. I’m actually lucky enough to get Skyward and Empress of All Seasons on Netgalley, which is why the latter has a star rating. I may not get to the other two any time soon but I’m definitely interested in checking them out. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

 

Pippa

 

 

 

It’s Monday… What are you reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!
Hi guys, I hope you are all well. As you can already tell, I’m going to be sharing what I’m currently reading as well as what is next up on my TBR. I’ve been in one of those moods where I really want to read but I also can’t decide what I want to pick up first. I would be reading Tombland by C. J. Sansom but I’m away right now and I didn’t want to carry around a big book, so that’s waiting for when I get back. The books I’m actually reading are The Silence of Girls by Pat Barker and The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi, which is the second book in the the Interdependency series. I’ve only just started both of them so I can’t really comment yet but I have high hopes for both of them. Of course I will let you know my full thoughts once I’ve finished them.

Since I’m away for this week I’m taking the chance to read the books that have been sitting on my kindle, waiting to be read. I’d quite like to either start Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel or The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, because they’ve both been on my TBR for a long time. Other books I may read include Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, War Cry by Brian McClellan and Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce.

That’s all I have for today. As I briefly mentioned earlier I’ll be away this week, so if I’m slow to respond to comments that is the reason. What are you guys currently reading? I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve read any of the books I mentioned. I hope you are all having a wonderful time and I will see you next time.
Pippa

Shadow of the Fox / Julie Kagawa

Title / Shadow of the Fox
Author / Julie Kagawa
Publication Date / Nov. 2018
Genre / YA Fantasy
Series or standalone / Series
Page no. / 384
Star Rating / ★★★

*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
This is the first book in a YA fantasy series set in a Japanese inspired world. A young half kitsune (fox) peasant girl must leave her insular life to protect a scroll that could bring about a disaster. While I enjoyed this book overall, I did have quite a few issues with it too. First of all, I really liked the setting of this book. As I mentioned earlier this is a Japanese inspired world that is inhabited by humans and yōkai (supernatural beings from Japanese folklore). The world is separated into clans, one of which is the Emperor’s own royal clan. Although I would say it lacked a little depth, the world is generally quite well written. I would have liked to have a better understanding of the history and politics of the world but at less then 400 pages this book doesn’t really have the space to have intricate world building. I found the elements of Japanese mythology interesting and it was probably my favourite thing about this book. However if you are unfamiliar with Japanese mythology and/or words then you may be a little confused at times. There is a glossary of terms at the end of the book which will be helpful to you, or you can resort to a quick Google search. I had no issues with this but it is something to be aware of going in.
I enjoyed the plot overall, although I think it lacked a little cohesion. The middle section of the book felt a lot like filler. At the beginning of the book the main task is given, but the characters partake in mini adventures along the way and these make up the majority of the book. First of all, the task must not have a time pressure and second of all it felt like a way to prolong the weak plot. Having said that, there was something about it that kept me reading and despite the flaws I did enjoy it overall. It was a quick, entertaining read and the ending set up well for the sequel. In terms of the characters, we follow three main character perspective; Yumeko, Tatsumi and Suki. The majority of the book is divided between Yumeko and Tatsumi, with Suki’s perspective sprinkled a couple of times throughout the 384 pages. I personally felt the characters lacked development but I liked the majority of them. A cast of supporting characters is introduced throughout and I enjoyed their interactions with each other. The romance is entirely predictable but it didn’t really bother me as it’s not the main focus of the book. I’m hoping that the romance will not play a central role in future books. Both the plot and the characters are quite formulaic in terms of the YA fantasy genre, but I still enjoyed the overall reading experience.
Overall I liked this introduction to this series, but I definitely had issues with it. The sequel, Soul of the World, is set to be released in June 2019. At present I am undecided whether I will continue this series. We’ll see if I’m still interested when it is released. If you enjoy YA fantasy and/or like Japanese inspired worlds then I would recommend checking this book out. Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa