Old Man’s War / John Scalzi

Title / Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe’s Tale, The Human Division and The End of All Things
Author / John Scalzi
Publication Date / 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013 and 2015
Genre / Science Fiction
Series or standalone / 6 book series
Page no. / 351, 347, 324, 336, 493 and 388
Star Rating / ★★★

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This is a science fiction series that contains 6 books. The books are all set in the same world but they switch character perspectives. The first and third book follow the same characters and the fourth book is the same story from book 3 but written from a different character perspective. The other 3 books are again from different character perspectives. The fifth and sixth books are in a serialised format. In book 1 we are introduced to a world where old people can join the Colonial Defence Forces, whose job is to protect human interplanetary colonists. We follow John Perry, a 75 year old man, as he leaves Earth to join this force. The minds of the old people who join this force are transferred to an enhanced body. They can then be deployed to protect humanity. I love the premise of this book and the author does a fantastic job at building on this world throughout the six books. When I first read this series, I hadn’t read much sci-fi at all but these books made me want to read more from this genre. The world is wonderfully written and I love how Scalzi continues to build on what we know of the world in each new book. There is a lot of detail put into this large world and you can see the time and effort put into it. I’m not going to say much more, because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. Just know that the world is one of my favourite things about these books.

 

There is a fantastic cast of characters within this series. Although I love the characters, I have to admit that some do feel a little similar to each other. The voices of the characters can sometimes be a little indistinct. This is only a minor complaint though as it didn’t really affect my overall reading experience. For the most part all of the characters are well written. For anyone interested, John and Jane are two of my favourite characters.  I also really enjoy the development of relationships throughout these six books. There are switches in character perspectives but there are multiple characters we see pop up throughout the series. I really enjoy the humour of these books and there is some great dialogue between characters. Moving on, each book is as enjoyable as the last. All of the books are compelling and are just so much fun to read. There are also some fantastic action scenes within this series. There are military elements in most of these books, which I really enjoyed as it’s done really well.  The plot in each book is well constructed and it keeps you invested in the story throughout. Once I’d started each book I didn’t want to put them down. Basically these books are quick, action-packed reads. I’ve reread these books and there just as good the second time around. I personally feel that the later books are the weakest, maybe because I wasn’t expecting the serialised format, but I still really enjoyed them.

 

Overall this is a fantastic science fiction series. I would personally say that the first and the third book are my favourite, because I love the main characters, John and Jane. Having said that, I really enjoyed all of the books and I would highly recommend checking this series out, especially if you are a big fan of sci-fi books. I also think this series would make a fantastic TV show or film, if done right. Have you read 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

 

 

 

Soulbinder / Sebastien de Castell

Title / Soulbinder
Author / Sebastien de Castell
Publication Date / 2018
Series or standalone / book 4 of 6
Page no. / 400
Overall Rating / 

 

*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
Non-spoiler review
This is the fourth book in the Spellslinger series. After finishing this book, my first thought was that this series just keeps getting better. Each book is just as entertaining as the last, if not more so. It can sometimes be the case with series that there are one or two books that are weaker than the rest, but that has not been the case with this series. I think the main strength of this instalment was the development of the characters. Minor spoiler but two of the main characters are separated for a good portion of the book and although I missed their interactions, it was a smart decision for their growth. I loved the development of the main character, Kellen. As with the previous books all of the characters are well written and it was great to be introduced to a host of new characters. My one small complaint is that whenever Kellen is in the presence of a girl, he becomes a bit of a bumbling idiot and I mean that in the nicest way possible. I get that he’s an awkward teenager but it gets a little frustrating and I’d just quite like some platonic relationships. This is only a minor complaint though because I love Kellen as a protagonist.

 

Another strength of this sequel was the world-building. Castell does a great job of building on what we already know of the world and we get to explore more of it in this instalment. I really enjoyed being back in this world with these characters. Once again the magic system is so well written and it was great to learn a little bit more about shadowblacks. I cannot wait to see how things are going to develop in the next two books. Moving on, I really enjoyed the plot of this sequel. It did take me a little while to settle into the flow of the story but after a few chapters I was hooked. These are relatively quick reads for me, because once I’ve started reading I don’t want to put it down. Each book is so enjoyable to read and this instalment was no exception. Basically I loved this book and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

 

Overall I love this series and this was a fantastic instalment. If you’re looking for a new series to start then you should definitely check this one out. If you’ve started this series and loved the other books then you will probably love this one too. The fifth book, Queenslayer, is set to be released in May 2019. Have you started this series? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

5 Reasons to read The Count of Monte Cristo

Title / The Count of Monte Cristo
Author / Alexandre Dumas
Publication Date / 1844
Page no. / 1462
Overall Rating / 
It’s time for another 5 reasons to read style review and as you can see from the title today I am going to be talking about The Count of Monte Cristo. I have to admit putting off reading this book for quite a long time because of the size, but I ended up loving it so don’t be intimidated by the size.
  • Originally written in French, this is a fantastic revenge tale. The basics of this tale is that a young man called Edmond Dantes is betrayed and ends up spending 14 years in prison. He comes back to seek revenge against those that betrayed him. I thought that the plot was compelling throughout, although I will admit that it took me a couple of chapters to settle into the flow of the story.
  • Dantes is a fantastic protagonist and an interesting character study. This book spans many years and I loved being able to see Dantes development throughout. Although I think all of the characters were well written, I think some secondary characters seemed a little less developed then Dantes but since this is Dantes story it kind of makes sense.
  • The writing is fantastic and will keep you engaged throughout this long book. Even in the slower paced sections, the writing and characters keep you invested. However I will admit that it dragged a tiny bit a few times but I still love this book.
  • I think this book can be enjoyed by a variety of readers and ages. I will definitely reread this book at some point because I think I’ll pick up on things I may have missed during the first read.
  • I am a big fan of this author and this is one of my favourite books by him, so of course I want to recommend checking it out. My other favourite is The Three Musketeers, for anyone interested.

 

Since this was originally published in instalments, it may be a good idea to read it in instalments or just set yourself a certain amount of chapters per week to make it seem more manageable. Do not be intimidated by the size and just take your time reading this fantastic book. Have you read this book? 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

 

 

 

The Dragon Queen / William Andrews

Title / The Dragon Queen
Author / William Andrews
Publication Date / 2018
Series or standalone / Sequel to Daughters of the Dragon
Page no. / 316
Overall Rating / 

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Goodreads synopsis: As tensions rise on the Korean peninsula, US diplomat Nate Simon is sent to Seoul to gauge the political situation and advise the president. He also needs to find out why someone sent the president an ancient, intricately carved comb with an ivory inlay of a two-headed dragon. Though familiar with Korea’s language and culture, Nate knows little of its troubled history. Beautiful and mysterious embassy aide Anna Carlson believes it’s time he learns, starting with the extraordinary story of Korea’s last queen. Seoul, 1866. The beautiful orphan Ja-young is chosen to be the child bride of Gojong, Korea’s boy king. Highly intelligent but shy, Ja-young faces a choice: she can be a stone queen—silent and submissive—or she can be a dragon queen and oppose enemies and empires that try to rule Korea during the age of imperialism. Her choice leads her to forge a legend that will endure far beyond her lifetime. The more Nate discovers, the more he comes to realize that Queen Min’s story is still relevant today. Now the choice is up to him: be submissive and accepting…or change the world.

 

This is the sequel to Daughters of the Dragon, also by William Andrews. Although you could get away with reading this without reading the first book, it is best to read the books in order. I had high hopes for this book and I am happy to say it didn’t disappoint. This book is split into two perspectives; that of Nate, a US diplomat in the present day and of Ja-young, who becomes a young queen in Korea during the 1800’s. Although I found Ja-young’s chapters more compelling, I enjoyed the perspective of both characters and Andrews did a good job at maintaining the flow of the story. Fortunately the majority of the chapters follow Ja-young, with Nate’s chapters acting as a kind of interlude between the fictionalised historical account of Queen Min. Some may argue that Nate’s perspective doesn’t need to be there, but I think it’s an important part that will allow the story to progress in the next book. I loved the setting of Seoul during the 1800’s and found it to be a fascinating read. I know next to nothing about this time period in Korea so I cannot comment on authenticity but it feels very realistic. To me, it seems like the author has done a lot of research. From the very beginning I was immersed in this world and story. As with the previous book, the writing is great and it was so easy to settle into the flow of the story. It also meant that this was quite a quick read because I just wanted to keep on reading to find out what happened next. The characters are all well written, although I did find Nate a little frustrating at times. Generally this book is well paced, but it is a little slow at times. I had no issues with this but it may be something to be aware of. Basically I thought this was a fantastic book.

 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic sequel and I would definitely recommend checking it out, especially if you enjoy historical fiction and/or are interested in this time period. As far as I know, a sequel is planned but there isn’t a title or release date yet. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

The Echoes of the Fall / Adrian Tchaikovsky

Title / The Tiger and the Wolf, The Bear and the Serpent and The Hyena and the Hawk
Author / Adrian Tchaikovsky
Publication Date / 2016, 2017 and 2018
Genre / Fantasy
Series or standalone / Trilogy
Page no. / 590, 446 and 433
Star Rating / ★★★★★
This is a fantasy trilogy set in a world that is divided into clans; each of which is represented by an animal. Members of these clans contain the soul of their animal and can ‘step’ into said animal’s form. So, if you are a member of the wolf clan then you can turn into a wolf and so on. While in human form many still have the mannerisms of their clans’ animal. In book 1 we meet Maniye, a young girl from the wolf clan, who happens to have two souls within her.
Although the first book primarily follows Maniye, the second two books follows multiple perspective. At first this change put me off a little but after a couple of chapters I got used to it and I appreciate that this gives a broader overview of the conflict. Basically, Maniye remains one of the main perspectives throughout the three books with other perspectives added in books 2 and 3. Each one is compelling and distinct, and Tchaikovsky does a great job at maintaining the flow of the story through these changes in perspective. I find sometimes with multiple perspectives the changes can be quite jarring but that is not the case with this trilogy. I definitely enjoyed Maniye’s chapters the most but I still really enjoyed the other perspectives. Another strength of this trilogy is the characters. There are so many amazing characters; all of whom are well written, complex and flawed. Maniye is a favourite of mine but I also love Hesprec, Loud Thunder and quite a few others. I loved their development throughout the trilogy, especially Maniye’s, and the growth of relationships was also really well done. Basically I loved the characters and would love to see more of them.
Throughout the three books, the writing is fantastic and really immerses you in the world and story. Speaking of the world, it is one of my favourite aspect of this trilogy. It is so vivid, complex and immersive. I also love the diversity of this world. There are so many different tribes and beliefs, which makes it such an interesting world. It is unlike any other fantasy setting I’ve come across, so it’s quite refreshing if you read a lot of traditional fantasy books. If you enjoy fantasy with good world building, then this trilogy will not disappoint you.The plot is compelling throughout the three books, however the first book is definitely the slowest in terms of pacing. Being the first book it has a lot of introducing the world and characters, but I never felt it dragged and I wasn’t bogged down by the information. The pacing in the second two books is more even as we are already familiar with the world and characters. Tchaikovsky does a good job at building on what we already know in each new book – only giving some things away when it is needed to further the plot. There are many twists and turns throughout the trilogy. Initially I had thought that the conclusion was a little anti-climatic but after some thought I think it’s actually a fitting end to this trilogy. I think it’s just that the build up is such a big one and then it just ends quite quickly. Personally I did still enjoy it but I think it may be an issue for some.

 

Overall I love this trilogy and want more people to read it. Within the trilogy there is a cast of fantastic characters, a compelling plot and a wonderfully written and unique world. I cannot say enough good things about it. I would love to see more books set in this world. Have you read any of these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

 

Pippa

 

 

Moribito series / Nahoko Uehashi

Title / Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito 2: Guardian of the Darkness
Author / Nahoko Uehashi
Translator / Cathy Hirano
Publication Date / 2008 and 2009
Overall Rating / 
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: Balsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire. Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging river — and at that moment, her destiny changed. Now Balsa must protect the boy — the Prince Chagum — on his quest to deliver the great egg of the water spirit to its source in the sea. As they travel across the land of Yogo and discover the truth about the spirit, they find themselves hunted by two deadly enemies: the egg-eating monster Rarunga . . . and the prince’s own father.

 

Originally released in Japanese in the late 90’s, this is a ten book fantasy series, however only two books have been translated into English. I loved both of these books. In book 1 we meet Balsa, a thirty year old warrior for hire (she works as a bodyguard) as she is hired by the royal family to protect a young prince. I’m not going to go into the synopsis of the second book because I don’t want to spoil anything. It is a separate story line in the second book but there are things that will be spoilt if you haven’t read the first book. The plot of both books was compelling throughout and I loved the direction of it. At under 300 pages, both books are quick and thoroughly entertaining reads. Once I’d started reading I didn’t want to put the book down but I also didn’t want it to end. Another strength of these books are the action scenes. Seriously Uehashi is so good at writing action scenes. I love the way that Balsa fights; not only relying on her strength but also her wits to overcome larger and stronger opponents. Moving onto the world. The first book takes place in a region called Yogo, and the second book takes place in Balsa’s native region of Kanbal. Both of these areas are so well written. Uehashi does a wonderful job at creating a vivid world with distinct and interesting regions. There is a good balance of physical descriptions of the world, along with the history and the politics. Spirits play a big role in this world too, with the physical world referred to as Sagu and the spiritual world as Nayug. From the very beginning, I was immersed in this world and I couldn’t get enough of it.

 

There is also a fantastic cast of characters within this series. Firstly, I love Balsa as the protagonist. I cannot say enough good things about her character. Secondly, Uehashi has done a great job at creating a well developed cast that you really root for. There are so many great characters within these two books and I would love to see more from them. Balsa does also have a love interest but I love that is a just in the background – it is not the main focus. I’m not a big romance person but I thought it was so well done in this series and the love interest is fantastic. Basically I loved both books and I highly recommend checking out this author. If I’m not mistaken this series is aimed at a YA/middle grade age range, but I think this can be enjoyed by a lot of different people.

 

Overall I loved both of these books and I highly recommend checking them out. I know it’s been a while since these books have been translated but I still hope that more of the series will be translated too. Both of these books are fantastic and I would love to read more of the series. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any new translations of this author, as I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her so far. Have you read these books? I’d love to know what you thought of them. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

5 reasons to read North and South by E. Gaskell

Title / North and South
Author / Elizabeth Gaskell
Publication Date / 1855
Page no. / 544
Overall Rating / 
It’s time for another 5 reasons to read style review and today I wanted to talk about one of my all time favourite classics, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I first read this back in secondary school and it’s remained a favourite of mine since then. Let’s get started.
  • The writing is fantastic and I personally found it to be quite an easy classic to read. I think this would be a great book to read if you are new to classics and want to start reading them.
  • There is a great cast of characters and I love Margaret as the protagonist. All of them are well written from a range of backgrounds, which gives the reader a better look at society as a whole at the time. Some of my favourite characters include Bessy and Nicholas Higgins but I love all of them really.
  • It’s such an interesting look into society at the time and what the British landscape looked like at the time. It was so interesting to see the differences between the countryside and towns, and how our protagonist adapts to these changes.
  • If you are a big fan of reading classics and/or have enjoyed books by Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters etc then I think you will love this book.
  • As already mentioned it’s one of my favourites, so of course I’m taking this opportunity to recommend it. Also the BBC adaptation starring Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage is fantastic and well worth checking out too.

 

 

That’s all for today. Have you read this book? I’d love to know what you thought of it. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa