Winter Book Recommendations

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. As you can see from the title of this post I’m going to be sharing some books that are great to read in the winter. These are books that are ideal to snuggle up to read on a cold day with a blanket and cup of tea, if that is what you like to do. If not then these are still great books to read.
The Bear and the Nightingale / Katharine Arden
The setting of this book makes it a great book to read in the winter time. I actually read this last winter and plan to read the sequel, The Girl in the Tower, this winter.
His Dark Materials / Philip Pullman
Of course, I recommend reading this any time but I think reading it in winter is a great idea. Basically I love these books and will take every opportunity to recommend them.
The Hobbit or LOTR / J. R. R. Tolkien
I don’t have much to say about this one other than I think settling down with a dense fantasy over winter is a good idea. Although I read fantasy year round there’s something about winter that makes me think of the fantasy genre.
Daughter of the Forest / Juliet Marillier
There’s something about books with a fairytale/folklore feel that is perfect for winter, so the Sevenwater series is perfect for that.
That’s all I have for you guys today. I have to admit that I don’t tend to read books based on the seasons but there are definitely some books that have a wintery feel to them. Are there any books that you like to read in the winter months? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

Recommendations: Historical Fiction

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Today I thought I would share some more historical fiction recommendations with you. I really enjoy this genre but I actually haven’t read a whole lot of books from it. I get easily distracted by fantasy books :). I’ve got three books to recommend today, so I’m just going to get straight into it.

 

To Capture What We Cannot Keep / Beatrice Colin / ★★★.5

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Synopsis: Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young Scottish widow and a French engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love. 

 

The main thing I enjoyed about this book was the setting. The story itself is quite romance heavy which is not normally my thing but with the back group of the construction of the Eiffel tower I think it really worked. The characters are compelling and well written, although the secondary characters could perhaps have done with a little more depth. The writing is easy to get into and I found that I was invested in the story from early on. For me this was a quick, enjoyable read with a fantastic setting. If your not a big fan of romance heavy books than this may not be for you, but otherwise I would definitely recommend this.

 

The Shadow of the Wind / Carlos Ruiz Zafon / ★★★★

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Synopsis: One cold morning in 1945, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel to a labyrinthine library of forgotten titles, hidden in the old city of Barcelona. Allowed to choose one book, Daniel pulls out The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. But as Daniel grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to discover the truth about the life and death of Julián Carax, and to save those he left behind…
This is a fantastic book. I’d been meaning to read this for quite some time before actually picking it up. From the beginning I was immersed in the story and world, although there were a few sections that did drag for me. It is a slow moving plot, so if that’s not your thing than I wouldn’t recommend it. As I’ve said before I don’t mind a slow plot but it’s probably something to do aware of. Although the characters are generally well written, they are a little flat in my opinion and could do with a little more depth. The writing is good too.  Overall this is a great book and I would definitely recommend checking it out.

 

Empress of Bright Moon duology / Weina dai Randal / ★★★★
Synopsis of book 1: A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget. Mei’s intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the Emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.

 

I picked this up mainly because it is set in ancient China and I’m glad I did. These books are definitely not perfect but I found them to be very enjoyable historical fiction to read and I loved the setting. I will say I think everything is quite surface level with these books, especially in terms of the characters. I wanted more depth but it’s only a minor complaint as I still really enjoyed these books. The characters are still well written and I found the plot to be quite compelling. Once I started reading I didn’t want to be the book down. The writing is so easy to get into and it really immerses you into this world. Basically I really enjoyed these books and I’m definitely interested in more books set in ancient China.

 

That’s all I have for you guys today. I’d love to know if you guys have a favourite time period for reading historical fiction – I’m not sure about mine :).  I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Recommendation: More Fantasy

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s been a couple of months since I last recommended some fantasy books so I thought it was about time for another post. I have four more books to talk about today – all of which I loved. I have done quite a few of these so far, if you want to know so good places to start in the fantasy genre than check out this post. So I think I am just going to get straight into it.

 

Queen of Blood / Sarah Beth Durst
This is the first book in the Queens of Renthia trilogy (YA fantasy genre). The main thing I love about this book is the setting.  Basically everything is built on tree branches and everything has a spirit. I really liked that it isn’t your typical fantasy setting – it’s unique. The characters are wonderfully written, the world is fantastic and it has a compelling plot. I recently read the second book in the trilogy, The Reluctant Queen, which is just as great as the first book.  I have a full review of the first book which you can check out here. I am very excited for the third and final book.

 

Kings of the Wyld / Nicholas Eames 
This is the first book in the Bands series. I thought this was a great introduction to this series, although I don’t know how long it is planned to be. This is just a very enjoyable read. Some of the humour wasn’t really to my taste but that’s just personal preference. I thought the characters are well written, the plot is compelling and the writing is easy to get into. I did want more from the ending though. It wasn’t bad or anything, it just felt a little rushed. The whole of the book is built up and then it ends too quickly – it could have been explored a bit deeper. I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series.

 

The Ninth Rain / Jen Williams 
This is the first book in the Winnowing Flame trilogy. I thought this was a fantastic first book in this trilogy. It took me a little while to get into it but after the first few chapters I was hooked. This is definitely another favourite world for me. It’s rich, complex and interesting but it never felt bogged down. The characters are great, the plot is compelling and the writing is easy to get into. The detail in the writing make it an immersive read. I am excited about the potential of the next two books and cannot wait for more from this world.

 

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The Daughter of the Empire / Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts
This is the first book in the Empire trilogy. You guys have probably seen me talk about this book pretty recently so it’s no surprise that I’m recommending it now. If you enjoy politics and intrigue in fantasy books than you need to check out this book. It is so good. Although I loved this world (it’s Japanese inspired) I definitely wanted more from it, but it’s still good. The characters are fantastic – I love Mara as a main character. The writing is easy to get into and I found that I was hooked from very early on. I have also read the second book, Servant of the Empire, and it is fantastic as well. I am very much looking forward to reading the third and final book.

 

I am sure I will be doing another fantasy recommendation post in the future but for now this is all I have for you. I would love to know if you guys have any recommendations for me. Have you read any of these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Recommendations: Classics

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. I am quite excited as it is my birthday this month and that means there’s an excuse to get more books :). At least in my head. Anyway today I thought I would recommend some more classics. I love sharing my favourite books with you guys. I have already done two recommendation posts on classics which can find here and here.

 

Middlemarch / George Eliot / 
I had this on my shelf for quite some time before I finally read it. The size is definitely a little bit intimidating. As you can see from the rating I ended up loving this. It did take me a little while to get into, as there is quite a lot going on, but after a couple of chapters or around the 100 page mark I was completely invested. I think the main strength of this book are the characters. They are so fantastically written and you want to continue reading their stories. The look into society at the time is so in depth and interesting. The writing is relatively easy to get into and is just wonderful. I think I would pick up on many new things if I reread it. It is a pretty slow read but I thought the writing really pulled it through. So even if the pacing is abit slow, the characters and world are interesting enough to keep it engaging. Overall I loved this, but it’s probably not for everyone.

 

The Count of Monte Cristo / Alexandre Dumas / 
This is another classic that sat on my shelf for quite some before I finally picked it up, again due to it’s size. I knew that I was probably going to like it as I’d heard nothing but good things about it and I had read (and loved) The Three Musketeers also by Dumas. I have to say it did take me sometime to get into this book and it took quite a lot of attention to keep track of all the characters. There were a few times that I was a little confused. Having said that, this is a fantastic book. The characters are fantastic. Dumas creates complex and flawed characters that are a pleasure to read about. The plot is engaging throughout, although perhaps a little slow at times. Overall I loved this one, but it is definitely quite dense and slow moving at times.

 

Wives and Daughters / Elizabeth Gaskell /
Gaskell is probably one of my favourite authors, so it made sense to include one of her books in this post. I love her writing style and find it so easy to read. Gaskell’s attention to detail is fantastic – it means you become completely invested in the world and the characters. I like that the characters aren’t simply good or bad  – they are all complex and have flaws, so it’s up to you to decide who you think is doing the right or wrong thing. I know I’ve said it a few times already but I think the main strength of this book are the characters. They are such so good. I also love the setting, the plot and the writing. Basically I love this book and author. I highly recommend checking this out. Although I will say this is not my favourite by this author – that definitely goes to North and South, but this is still an amazing book too.

 

Stamboul Train by Graham Greene / 
This was my second book by this author and I’m excited to try out more. I really enjoyed this book. Again the characters are wonderfully written, the plot is engaging throughout and the mystery is compelling. There is just something about fictional train journeys involving murder, or some other mystery, that just seem to work. It was a little slow to start, but it quickly improves. The atmosphere of this book is great and really adds to the reading experience. There were a few things at the end that seemed a little too neatly wrapped up, but that is only a minor complaint. Overall I thought this was a entertaining read.

 

I enjoyed all of these classics, so it made sense to recommend them all to you guys :). The first two are definitely a bit of a time commitment but they are well worth it. I’m hoping to read more classics this year so one of my goals this year is to read a classic every month. So far I am on track for that challenge. If you have any classic recommendations for me, I would be grateful. I hope you are having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Recommendations: More Fantasy

Hi guys, I hope this finds you well. You will all be surprised that I have more fantasy recommendations to share with you today :). I think it is well known by now that I read alot of fantasy. There are so many great fantasy books out there and since it is primarily what I read there are so many favourites that I want to share with you guys. Let me know if you guys are getting bored of these fantasy recommendations, as I have done quite a few now. So if you think I am missing any fantasy books then they may be on my other lists 🙂 – favourite series, where to start (fantasy), part 1 and part 2. As with the other posts I will be talking about five fantasy books or series, so let’s get started.

 

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Fudoki / Kij Johnson / 
I take every opportunity to talk about this book because it was just so good. I read this at the beginning of the year and it has remained one of my favourite books I’ve read this year. It is a wonderful mix of fantasy and historical fiction. I adore this book so much and I think it is so underrated. I am going to leave it at that as I feel like I’ve mentioned this book so many times in the past year 🙂 – you can check out my full review here.

 

The Tiger and the Wolf / Adrian Tchaikovsky / Echoes of the Fallen Book 1 / 
 This was such an incredible first book in this series. I have to admit that I picked this book up on a bit of a whim and I am so glad I did. It contains a unique and interesting world, well written and complex characters and an engaging plot. I will say that it is a little bit of a set up book, as there is alot of information. However I wasn’t particularly bothered by the slow start due to the amount of information. Again this is going to be up there on my list of favourite books I’ve read this year. I am so excited for the next book in this series – The Bear and the Serpent which is set to be released in February.

 

The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms / Ken Liu / Dandelion Dynasty Book 1 and 2 / 
Again this is a currently unfinished trilogy – the first two books are out and I have read them both, but the third is yet to be released. I thought that I would mention it anyway. It was a wonderful introduction into this new world with a engaging plot and interesting characters. I have to admit it did take me a little bit to get into it but due to the richness of the world it didn’t bother me too much – it just takes a few chapters to get used to the world and writing style. Again I have a full review of book 1 so I am going to keep this short.

 

Six of Crows / Leigh Bardugo / Six of Crows Book 1 / 
Once again this is a currently unfinished series but the second and final book is released, so I hope to get to it soon. There are some really interesting characters introduced in the first book and the plot was engaging. It is also just a very enjoyable read. I have heard so many good things about this series so I have high hopes for the conclusion.

 

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The Lord of the Rings trilogy / J. R. R. Tolkien / 
This is a classic trilogy in terms of the fantasy genre and while it is not perfect, it is definitely well worth a read. I found it interesting to see where a lot of inspiration for the fantasy genre came from. It is a dense read and it did take me some time – it does drag in places. Having said that, if you are a big fan of the fantasy genre then I would recommend reading it.

 

I think I am actually starting to run out of fantasy books to recommend now 🙂 but I’m sure I’ll have more to recommend soon. I would love to know whether you guys have any recommendations – I am always up for trying out new fantasy books, but you probably know that already. There are so many fantasy books and series I want to read, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of them all! I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Recommendations: Translated Fiction

Hi guys, how are you today? Today I thought I would continue with my recommendations series by talking about some translated fiction. Now I haven’t actually read a whole load of translated fiction, but I have read five that I want to recommend to you. This last year I have been trying to read more diversely so I’ve been trying out a few books from a wide range of authors and I hope to read a whole lot more. With this post I am once again going to link each book to the Wordery site using my affiliate link (I get a small commission) so you can get your hands on these books if you want to. This is just a great way to support me, if you so wish. No pressure though – you don’t have to use the links. Anyway onto the books

 

War and Peace / Leo Tolstoy
Originally in Russian, this is a very well known and well loved classic. I read this earlier in the year and I absolutely loved it. The edition I read was translated by Anthony Briggs and is the Penguin Clothbound edition. It is definitely a lengthy book; one that you should set some time aside for but it is well worth it. Obviously I don’t know about other translations, but the one I read was very good. I absolutely adored this book. The writing is wonderful, the plot is engaging and the characters are extremely well written. Seriously the character studies in this book are so interesting. I will admit that the plot does drag a little in places, but stick with it. It is worth it in the end. I highly recommend this book to everyone. You can see more of my thoughts on this wonderful book here.

 

Out / Natsuo Kirino
Originally in Japanese, this is a very dark thriller. I very much enjoyed this book, as much as you can enjoy such a dark book. The best thing about this book, in my opinion, is the characters. They are incredibly well written, as well as being complex and flawed. The relationship between the four main woman is very interesting and I liked the way it developed throughout the book. The writing was easy to get into, the story is engaging and as mentioned the characters are great. Although I definitely questioned the motives of Masako at times, but that is a minor issue. I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the direction of the ending. Having said that, it wasn’t bad or anything. It just didn’t quite work for me. I can’t say much more without spoiling anything, so I’ll leave it at that. I have a full review which you can read here.

 

The Shape of the Water / Andrea Camilleri
Originally in Italian, this is the first book in the Inspector Montalbano series. The edition I read was translated by  Stephen Sartarelli. I first saw the TV show based on this series and I really enjoyed it. My mum is also a massive fan of this series, so it had been on my radar for quite some time. I finally picked the first book up last year and as expected I loved it. It is basically a crime/mystery series with a main character who adores food. I enjoy crime/mystery books and I love food, so for me it is a great mix :). I have also read the second book in this series and I loved it. I will definitely be checking out the rest of the books in this series. Such an enjoyable book.

 

Human Acts / Han Kang
Originally in Korean, this book is translated by Deborah Smith. It is a powerful and extremely important book. I have to admit it did take me a little while to get into the writing style, but I attribute that to Kang being a new author to me. Having said that, I ended up enjoying the way it is written. I found the book to be very interesting, as I had no prior knowledge of this part of Korean history. I don’t have a lot of things to say about this, other than I highly recommend it. As I read this on my kindle, the pictures provided are sourced from Goodreads.

 

The Three Musketeers  / Alexandre Dumas
Originally in French, this was my first book I read by this author. It is a mix of an adventure story and a love story. I am sure you have heard of the Three Musketeers, but maybe you hadn’t realised it was a book. I certainly didn’t, until a few years ago. I absolutely loved it. It is a very entertaining story with great characters and the writing is easy to get into. I know I have said it quite a few times now but I highly recommend this book :).

 

I will be doing another recommendation post all about translated fiction soon, so keep an eye out for that. I hope to try out a load more translated books in the future, as I haven’t actually read that many. 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

 

 

Recommendations: Historical Fiction

Hi guys, welcome to day 4 of blogmas. It’s just three weeks till Christmas today and I am happy to report that most of the Christmas shopping is done – I’m feeling pretty organised :). Anyway onto the purpose of this post –  it is time for some more recommendations. I have done quite a few of these since starting my blog, but I haven’t yet done one about historical fiction. Today I am changing that. While I do enjoy historical fiction, I haven’t actually read that much of the genre but I definitely hope to read more. I think it’s just one of the genres for me that can be pushed to the side a bit. Hopefully I’ll read more in 2017. Onto the five recommendations.

 

The Siege / Helen Dunmore
Set during the Nazis’ 1941 winter siege of Leningrad, this is not an easy read. It is well worth it though. If you are interested in this time period or if you enjoy a gripping, well written story of love and survival then you should definitely check out this book. The characters are wonderful, the plot is compelling and the writing is great. It did take me a little while to get into, but overall I found this book to be a great read. I highly recommend this book. I think there is a sequel to this book, but I have yet to read it. I have also read Exposure by the same author and would recommend it to – it is set in London in 1960.

 

 

The Book Thief / Markus Zusak
This is probably an obvious suggestion, but I thought I’d include it anyway. This book is set in Germany during World War II. I read it earlier this year and I ended up loving it. The fact that it is narrated by Death is one of my favourite things about this book. It is quite a slow book, but if you don’t mind a slower pace than I think you’ll enjoy this. The characters are wonderfully well written and you become invested in them throughout reading this book.

 

 

Wolf Hall / Hilary Mantel
Set in England during the reign of Henry VIII, this chronicles the life of Thomas Cromwell. This is the first book in the Cromwell trilogy – the third and final book is yet to be released. I actually started reading this after seeing the BBC adaptation of this book and really enjoying it. The writing took a little getting used to and it is a bit of work keeping track of all of the characters – during this time period alot of people had the same names. Having said that, this book is well worth a read. I find Thomas Cromwell to be a very interesting historical figure, so I really enjoyed reading these books. I also highly recommend the BBC adaptation – Mark Rylance is amazing!

 

 

Between Shades of Grey / Ruta Sepetys
This is another book set during World War II, but it is a part that I knew very little about. It is about Lithuanians displaced to Siberian work camps during war – we follow Lina and her family as they are taken from their home. Once again this is not an easy read, but it is well worth a read. The narrative style took a little getting used to for me, so be aware that the chapters are very short. After a while I ended up liking the chapter length – it made sense to me. If Lina was writing it herself, she would only have had brief times to write without being discovered. I think this book is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

 

 

The Song of Achilles / Madeline Miller
Set in Greece, before and during the Trojan War, this follows Patroclus and Achilles. As someone with an interest in Greek mythology, this was an interesting look into a story that I already knew. I have to admit that I did take me a little while to get into this book, but you can’t deny that this book is beautifully written. The character development is also wonderful.

 

I hope to read more historical fiction in the future, so if you have any recommendations for me they would be very much appreciated. I just don’t tend to reach for a lot of historical fiction – I don’t really know why. Anyway I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa