5 reasons to read the Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s time for another 5 reasons to read style review. As you can see from the title I am going to be talking about The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, which is a part of the Canongate Myth series where modern writers rewrite ancient myths. I really enjoyed this book so I wanted to share this style of review with you guys. Let’s get started.

 

  1. If you are interested in Greek mythology and enjoy books about them, then you need to check this book out. It is a take on the tale of Odyssey but from the perspective of his wife, Penelope.
  2. Atwood has written Penelope so well and it so interesting to see this well known story from her perspective. She is such an interesting character and is wonderfully written. All of the characters are well written.
  3. The writing is fantastic and it is easy to become immersed in this story, despite it’s short length.
  4. If you are a fan of Margaret Atwood, then you should definitely check this book out.
  5. I think if you are new to this author, this could be a great place to start to get a feel for her writing style.

 

I’ve still only read two books by Atwood but I want to read more. I currently have The Blind Assassin sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read but I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I plan to read it this year though. I definitely want to read more from Atwood. Have you read any books by Margaret Atwood? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Death’s Mistress / Terry Goodkind

Title / Death’s Mistress
Author / Terry Goodkind
Publication Date / 2017
Series or standalone / Book 1 of the Nicci Chronicles
Overall Star Rating / 

 

This is the first book in the Sister of Darkness: the Nicci Chronicles series. It is a new series following a character already established in his previous books, the Sword of Truth series. I am unsure the length this series will be but so far there are two books released. Although reading the previous series may give you a deeper understanding of things, it is not necessary to have read them.
In terms of the fantasy genre, this is very much a traditional quest storyline and the plot is quite simplistic in that way. At the start of the books Nicci and Nathan, two already established characters, are given a task and the rest of the book is focused on completely that task. Despite this, I found it be a compelling plot and once I started reading I didn’t want to put the book down. However, I will say that the beginning may be a little tricky to get into. It was clear that since I haven’t read the Sword of Truth series that I was missing a lot of history, so it took a little while to piece everything together and have a vague understanding of that history. However, I think the author did a good job at giving enough information to understand without bogging it down with info dumping. Obviously, there are spoilers for the Sword of Truth series in this book.  Once they set out on their quest it did get easier to follow. In many ways I think Goodkind tried to make this book as accessible as possible. There is a simple task to overcome with no deeper context or conflict they must overcome. In this way I think this is a great introduction to this series and a good way to reintroduce readers who are already familiar with the world. In a way the plot is almost episodic in nature as the characters go from one task to another, however this may lead to a rather repetitive sequence of events for some. As the plot does follow the same path a few times but I had no issues with this repetition. For me, the result is an enjoyable and compelling introduction to this new series. The pacing is good throughout which meant it was quite a quick read for me, despite being over 500 pages long. There are also some great actions scenes in this book. I look forward to seeing how things progress in the next book.
The characters were, at times, a little mixed for me. Although I thought the character development throughout the book was great, I felt that a little depth of character was lacking at times. Initially I wasn’t sure how it would work with well established characters, being a new reader to this world, but I think the author did a good job at introducing these characters and world to new readers. However, I felt at certain points that the author could have expanded the characters inner thoughts, especially Nicci. This is only a small issue though, as I did think that the character development in this book was generally good. Obviously, I can’t comment on how consistent the already established characters are in terms of how they are written in this series and the previous one. All I can say is that I enjoyed their characterisation in this book and I think Nicci is a fantastic female protagonist. In terms of the world, I think this was a weakness of this book. I think the author focused mainly on the storyline and characters and so sacrificed some world building. There is a vague understanding of the world, but I wanted more from it. I wanted more history and some politics of this world and how this affects the characters. This didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment while reading though because I still found myself immersed in the world and the story. I am interested to see more of this world in the sequels to this book.
Overall, I am very glad that I picked this book up. I thought it was a fantastic introduction to this new series and it did a good job at introducing this world to new readers. It has well written characters, a compelling plot and good writing. The second book in this series, Shroud of Eternity, came out January 11th and I will be checking it out as this sequel is one of my most anticipated releases of this year. I also have the first book of the Sword of Truth series on my TBR so I’m interested to see what I think of it.  If you have been reading a lot of traditional fantasy quest stories and are perhaps a little bored with it, then I wouldn’t recommend this book, as it doesn’t really do anything new within the genre. However, if you are just looking for a new, enjoyable and engaging fantasy story then I would recommend checking it out. Have you read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

The Girl in the Tower / Katherine Arden + Giveaway

Title / The Girl in the Tower
Author / Katherine Arden
Publication Date / 2018
Series or standalone / Book 2 of the Winternight trilogy
Overall Star Rating / 
Read till the end for a chance to win a hardback edition of The Girl in the Tower, as well as a paperback edition of The Bear and the Nightingale.
Goodreads synopsis: For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic… The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse. Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior’s training, recognises this ‘boy’ as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical…

 

“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.”

 

Now this is one of most anticipated books of 2018 and I was lucky enough to receive an arc copy from Ebury publishing, so thank you very much for sending me an arc. I also have a hardback edition to giveaway so read till the end to know how to enter. I loved the first book in the series, although I had initially thought that it was a standalone, so I was very excited at the prospect of a sequel. I thought this was a fantastic continuation of this trilogy and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of reading it. This sequel has everything I loved about the first book but it felt like Vasya had grown as a character and it was so easy to slip back into this world. This development felt completely natural and it was great to see her become a little more mature. I liked that this growth is very gradual but at the same time you can clearly see her spirit remains very similar to what it was in book 1.  Her character is definitely one of my favourite things about this trilogy, although Morozko is also a contender for favourite character. We also have some fantastic secondary characters in this book and the villain is so well written. Arden does a fantastic job at creating characters that you really become invested in. All of the characters in this book are wonderful; they are all complex, they all have flaws and it’s just a pleasure to read about them all.

 

The world of this book is so atmospheric and vivid. You almost feel like you are in this wintery Russian world, which is great because I love this world. The writing makes it so easy to become fully immersed in this world. I think reading it in the winter is a good idea because of the atmosphere created in this book – you’ll feel even more immersed in the world. I don’t read a lot of books set in medieval Russia so this world is a refreshing change to the worlds I see in other fantasy books. Arden does a wonderful job at blending history with the fantasy elements. Details of everyday life are dotted throughout and add to the realism of the world, while the fantasy elements are woven so well they add a fantastic sense of a fairy tale to the story. I also loved that we got to see Moscow in this instalment, whereas with the first book we were very much focused in the countryside. The world is definitely one of my favourites at the moment. In terms of the plot, this sequel picks up soon after the events of book 1 and continues the story of  Vasilisa (or Vasya), a young woman very much constricted by the world in which she lives. I loved that we were throw straight back into the story as I think it made it easier to get into the flow of it again. The plot is compelling throughout and I found it hard to put down once I’d started reading. This story definitely has more of a sense of urgency and so a little more fast paced then the first book, but I think that really worked with the story. I am always a bit cautious when reading a sequel as some second books are just not as good as the first, but that is not the case with this one. If anything I think this sequel was better as Arden become more comfortable and confident with the world and characters.

 

How to enter the giveaway: Unfortunately this will be UK only, so if you live in the UK comment down below that you want to enter and leave a way for me to contact you – an email address or your twitter handle so I can message you. If you don’t want to enter here then check out my Twitter for the giveaway tweet.  Thank you to Ebury publishing for sending me a copy to giveaway. Ends 31st January.

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If you can’t tell I absolutely loved this book and I can’t recommend it highly enough, I think this sequel is a little more sure-footed then it’s predecessor, which really tells you how much I enjoyed it. I am so excited for the third and final book, The Winter of the Witch, which I think has a tentative August 2018 release date (this could change). If you enjoy fantasy with a fairy tale feel to them or want to try some fantasy set in Russian then I highly recommend checking this out. This book was just as good as the first book, if not better, so if you enjoyed the first you will probably love this book too.  Have you started this series yet? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

A Natural History of Dragons / Marie Brennan

Title / A Natural History of Dragons
Author / Marie Brennan
Publication Date / 2014
Page no. / 334
Series or standalone / Book 1 of the Memoirs of Lady Trent series
Overall Star Rating / 
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First and second book in the Lady Trent series.

Goodreads synopsis: All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day. Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

 

I’ve had this on my radar for quite some time but I recently saw it in a book store and decided to finally pick it up. I’m very glad that I have now finally read it. Although quite different to a lot of the fantasy books that I read, this was a very enjoyable read. Firstly I think the world was very well written. This world is heavily based around the Victorian period, just with dragons. It’s quite a unique world, in terms of the fantasy that I read, and I really appreciated that. Basically I thought this world was great and I’m interested to see more of it in the later books. Despite the sometimes slower pacing, the plot is compelling throughout. It isn’t a fast paced, action packed fantasy but I really enjoyed that about this book. It focuses more on the characters and their interest in dragons, making it quite a meandering plot line. However this slow pacing and lack of action will not be to everyone’s taste so it may be something to keep in mind. Personally I found it to be a nice change of pace. I liked that this book is full of discovery and mystery, which was a nice surprise, and I found the sections about the dragons to be really interesting. The pacing and the plotting makes it easy to become absorbed into the story and the characters.

 

The characters are another strength of this book. I thought all of them were so well written and I loved Isabella as a main character. She’s quite relatable in many ways and her development through the book was really well done. I did think that some of the secondary characters fell a little flat and could have done with more depth. I did still enjoy these characters but I just felt that there was a lack of development for some. I think because this book is told from Isabella’s perspective (1st person narrative) so the focus is very much on her, instead of say a 3rd person narrator who would be able to give a wider look into all of the characters. Having said that, I very much enjoyed Isabella’s perspective and think it works really well with the story, but it does mean that Isabella is a more fleshed out character when compared with others. I found it so easy to get into the flow of her story and was invested in her character from early on. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy the narrative when I first picked this up but I actually really enjoyed it.

 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this series and I’m glad that I finally read it. I loved the setting and I’m excited to see how it will continue on in the next books. I definitely plan to continue on with this series. If you are looking for a fantasy book with a slow but compelling plot and you like dragons then I would recommend checking this series out. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

Time of Dread / John Gwynne

Title / Time of Dread
Author / John Gwynne
Publication Date / 2018
Page no. / 480
Series or standalone / Book 1 – Of Blood and Bone trilogy
Overall Star Rating / ★.5

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Goodreads synopsis: The Ben-Elim, a fierce race of warrior-angels, burst into the Banished Lands over a hundred and thirty years ago. They were in pursuit of their eternal enemy, the Kadoshim demon-horde. On that day a great battle was fought, the Ben-Elim and Kadoshim joined by allies from the races of both men and giants, and a great victory was won. Now much of the Banished Lands is ruled by the Ben-Elim, who have made this world their home, extending their influence and power as they swallow ancient kingdoms into the protective grasp of their ever-extending borders. But peace is fragile within the realm and the Kadoshim that remain are now amassing on the edges of the empire… Threats long in the shadows are about to strike

 

I’ve been aware of this authors other fantasy series for quite some time now but I’ve never picked it up. So when I saw that he was coming out with a new trilogy I was intrigued. I will say that although you can read this without reading his first series (as I did), there are references that probably went straight over my head as it is set in the same world.  Overall I thought this was a great introduction to this new trilogy. I have to admit being in a bit of a reading slump while reading this so it did take me a little while to become fully invested in the story, so it did start slow for me. I think it was a bit slow to better introduce new readers to this world, as well as reminding others of it. Although the first half is quite slow, I never felt that it dragged or was boring. The writing was good and the suspense is pretty well done. The sense of dread/unease is apparent throughout the plot and you can really feel that something bad is coming. I also thought that the fight scenes were written really well. This book has multiple perspectives; each of which was distinctive and compelling. I think I would say I found Sig’s and Bleda’s chapters the most compelling but I enjoyed them all. I know I’ve said that the start is slow, but after the first few chapters I found this book quite addictive. Due to this it was quite a fast read for me because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  I really liked the way that the plot threads came together through the book. I thought one of the main strengths of this book was the characters. We have an array of different characters with different beliefs. I thought all of them were well written and there were quite a few intriguing characters, even the secondary characters were interesting. Although I think I wanted a little more information about the Kadoshim, but that’ a minor issue. The world is quite a vast one with various species of people and animals.  I was immersed in this world from very early on and would love to know more about it. I liked that in this world the line between light and dark is quite blurred and you’re never quite sure who you can trust – it’s adds a certain amount of unease to the story. If you like strong world building in your fantasy books, than you’ll probably enjoy this book. I did predict a certain revelation that happens at the end of the book fairly early on, but it was still enjoyable to see it unfold. If you can’t tell I really enjoyed this book.

 

Overall I thought this was a great introduction to this trilogy. You can definitely read and enjoy this without having read Gwynne’s previous series. I will be keeping my eye out for the release of the sequel whenever that is and hopefully picking up Malice at some point. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Thoughts on some DNF books

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. I thought I would do something a little bit different with the review post today. Since there are a few books that I haven’t finished I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on them and why I decided to stop reading them. Obviously I can’t fully review these books because I haven’t finished them but I thought it might be interesting for you guys to know why I didn’t finish these books. Let me know if this is a bad idea though. Let’s get started.

 

Red Knight / Miles Cameron
The main issue I had with this one was probably the writing, although the large cast of characters was also an issue for me. I found the writing and the plot to be convoluted and confusing, which meant that I didn’t become invested in the story or the characters.  The numerous characters meant that I didn’t really care about any of them, because of the frequent changes in perspective. This also resulted in a lack of character development, although maybe that happens later in the book and/or series. For those reasons this one didn’t work for me and I ended up DNFing it around 300 pages in.

 

The Magicians / Lev Grossman
Basically I really didn’t like Quentin and I couldn’t force myself to continue reading about him. A lot of the time he’s whining or just being a complete… insert whatever bad word here. The pacing was also a little uneven and I didn’t find the plot particularly compelling. The misogyny in this book is also an issue for me and I hated how Quentin treated women. As you can probably tell this one just really didn’t work for me so I stopped reading it. I don’t think I’ll ever attempt to finish this book.

 

The Way of Shadows / Brent Weeks
This is one that I may come back to at some point, as I didn’t really have any issues with it. I just wasn’t invested in the story or the characters while I was reading and so I decided to stop reading it. Although I did think that the characters were a little lacking in depth and development, but then I didn’t finish the book so it may have missed it. It does start out quite slow which probably didn’t help me become invested in the story. What I read of the plot seemed quite good but I didn’t find it very compelling. So this either wasn’t for me or it just wasn’t the right time for me to pick it up. As I’ve said I may try out this series again as I’ve heard some good things about it, but there are so many other books I want to read this may never happen.

 

Seeds of Earth / Michael Cobley
Again I may come back to this one at some point, but at this point I doubt it. This is a bit of a tricky one as I really liked the concept but I think in practice it didn’t quite work. I think somehow it didn’t all gel together, if that makes sense. The plot is convoluted and confusing a lot of the time (at least it was for me) and it was hard to keep track of what was going on. I kind of felt that this book needed more structure to it – there was too many threads of the story and seemingly no link to bind them together. Maybe that gets better later in the book though. The characters are alright but lacking in depth and there are too many of them. I have to admit to skim reading some of this before finally giving up on it. Thinking back on it now, I don’t think I’ll try reading this again.

 

Let me know if this type of review is a good or bad idea. I just thought you guys might be interested in know why I stopped reading these books. Have you guys read any of these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

5 Reasons to read Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s Friday which means its time for another review. This is another review in the form of five reasons to read a certain book. I quite like doing this kind of review sometimes as it can be a good way to organise my thoughts. Let’s get started.

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  1. If you are a fan of fairy tale retellings, specifically the Beauty and the Beast, then you will probably really enjoy this book. Even if you just enjoy books with a fairy tale feel then I would recommend checking this book out.
  2. As with all Juliet Marillier’s books, the writing is fantastic and so easy to get into. You’ll soon become immersed in the story and the world of this book, although the writing is perhaps a little wordy at times.
  3. The world is definitely one of my favourite things about this book. It is such a fascinating and intriguing world. There’s something about an ominous forest that always interests me, although in real life I’d probably run in the opposite direction :).
  4. The plot is compelling throughout and I found that once I started reading I didn’t want to stop. The only thing I will say is it is a little predictable but I still really enjoyed seeing it all unfold.
  5. The characters are all well written – they are complex and flawed in their own ways. The surrounding cast are just as great as the main characters.

 

Now I’m not one to seek out fairy tale retellings to read but I did really enjoy this one and would highly recommend it to any fairy tale lover. Juliet Marillier is definitely a new favourite author of mine. Have you read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa