T5W: Hidden Gems in Fantasy

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 hidden gems in your favourite genre, so of course I’m going to be talking about the fantasy genre. These are five books that have under 1,000 ratings on goodreads and are books that I loved. I highly recommend checking out all of these books. Let’s get started.

 

  1. The Ninth Rain / book 1 of the Winnowing Flame trilogy / Jen Williams
  2. The Tiger and the Wolf / book 1 of the Echoes of the Fall trilogy / Adrian Tchaikovsky
  3. To The Sky Kingdom / Tang Qi / translated by Poppy Toland
  4. Fudoki / Kij Johnson
  5. Emperor of the Eight Islands / books 1 & 2 of the Tale of Shikanoko series / Lian Hearn

 

That’s all I have for you guys today. I’d love to know what your favourite genre is and some of your favourite books from that genre. I’m always up for an exchange of bookish recommendations :). I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Bullet Journal Set Up 2018

Hi guys I hope you are all well. I know we are now well into the new year but a new year meant a new bullet journal set up and I wanted to share that with you guys today. I had my first bullet journal last year and found it really useful so decided to continue with it this year. I hope that’s alright with you guys.
Once again I’ve started this bullet journal with my goals for the year. These include some personal, blogging and bookish goals. Then I have a year in review spread over four pages. I didn’t use this last time but I think it’s quite useful to see the year in 6 month sections with space to note down any events. After that I have a spread of a stats tracker for the year as well as a blog post tracker. I know it’s not all about numbers here on my blog but I quite like having a view of the activity of my blog and how it’s doing. Next I have a page to keep track of my goodreads challenge for this year and a space to note down my favourite books of the year. On the opposite page I have a page dedicated to my reading statistics for the year ahead. I didn’t do this last year but I thought I’d try it out. I’ve split it into three sections; gender, star rating and nationality. I was thinking of also adding a space for the page numbers of books but I decided to just keep it at those three. After that I have an Instagram tracker which is pretty self explanatory; I use it to keep track of the days I post.
The next pages are all taken up with my monthly blog schedule, as well as a page to note down anything each month, such as TBRs, monthly favourites etc. All my blog posts are written down in blue and everything else such as any blog tours I’m involved with or my contribution to the Fantasy Faction site are noted down in black. An orange dot means that a post is finished and scheduled. I tend to note down in pencil first while I’m still planning out a month and then once the schedule is finalised I’ll write down in pen.
The first spread after my monthly spread is focused on my TBR. These are all the books I own but haven’t read yet at the start of the year. I’m hoping by the end of the year I will have most of these books read. Next I have a spread to keep track of the series I’m currently reading. All of the series listed are series I want to finish at some point. At this point I have over 20 series I am currently in the middle of so I thought this spread would be useful to track my progress with each series.
After that I have my most anticipated books noted down, as well as a page with some of my anticipated film releases for the year ahead. Speaking of films the next spread I have is films I’ve seen in 2018 page. I did this last year and wanted to continue with it this year. I love watching films and I liked keeping track of what I’ve seen. Next I have a page to note down any new favourites throughout the year – pretty self explanatory :). After that I have my mental health tracker. Again this is one I had last year and I think it’s a good idea for me to note down how my mental health is doing each month. Next I have a fitness tracker, which is colour coded by activity. I’m not a very active person but I’m hoping this year to get into the flow of exercising regularly. Hopefully this will help motivate me as well as allow me to keep track of things. As you can see January wasn’t a great month for exercise but I’m hoping to do better next month.
After that I have a page to note down any milestones that may happen in 2018, such as 500 followers on my blog, as well as space to note down any events that happen in my life, such as travelling somewhere for the first time.  Next I’m currently taking an online course about dog psychology so I have a page to keep track of my progress with that. The next spread is all about book requests of 2018. This is split into three months where I can note down the books I’ve requested, whether it was accepted and whether I’m reviewing it. After that I have two pages to plan for future recommendations post. The penultimate page I have is a list of 18 new authors I want to try out this year. Lastly I have a page to write down my favourite books of the year, separated into a two columns for my 5 star and 4 star books. I also have a space to note down any disappointing reads.
That’s all I have for you guys for now. I’ve found the bullet journal to be really useful, especially when it comes to keeping organised with my blog. Have you tried a bullet journal? 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.

DSCN1437.JPG

 

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

 

 

Anticipated Films 2018

Hi guys I hope you are all well. Today I’m going to be talking about films rather than books, because there are quite a few film releases that I am looking forward to, so I thought I’d share some. So far there are 11 films that I am interested to see that are coming out this year. I might have missed some but these are the ones that I am aware of. I have linked to the trailer of each film (if available) for you guys to check out if you want to. Let’s get started.

 

 

I actually don’t go to the cinema that often so I probably won’t get to see these films until they are out on DVD but I’m interested in checking them out at some point. I have high hopes for quite a few of them. The ones I’m most interested in are Avengers, Annihilation and Tomb Raider. What films are you looking forward to? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Series I Want To Finish In 2018

Hi guys I hope you are all well. Today I wanted to share some series that I want to finish this year or at least make progress with. I’ve split this into two categories – the first are series that I am up to date with and am just waiting for the last book to be released, and the second are completed series I need to catch up on. I have eight series to share with you guys. I’m excited to get to all of these series so let’s get started.

 

Last book released in 2018:
  • Echoes of the Fall trilogy by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • The Nicci Chronicles (duology) by Terry Goodkind
  • Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden
  • The Queens of Renthia trilogy by Sarah Beth Durst

 

Finished series to read:
  • Greatcoats series (4 books – 3 read) by Sebastien de Castell
  • The Memoirs of Lady Trent series (5 books – 2 read) by Marie Brennan
  • The Fitz and the Fool trilogy (none read so far)  by Robin Hobb
  • Shardlake series (6 books – 2 read) by C. J. Sansom

 

Hopefully I’ll at least make some progress with these series and finish a few of them, although I can be quite easily distracted :). No surprises that most of them are fantasy series, right? Do you guys have any series you want to finish this year? 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 / 
DSCN1047

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

 

Reading Resolutions/Blog Goals 2018

Hi guys I hope you are all well. As it is the start of a new year I thought I would do a post about my reading resolutions and blogging goals for the year ahead. February will mark 2 years of blogging for me, which went quite quickly really, and I am so happy to have stuck with it. While I definitely plan to remain primarily a book blogger I would love to expand my blog a bit this year and do a more wide range of posts. I will still be posting a lot of bookish content and Fridays will always be reviews but expect to see other stuff too like posts about films, travel, baking, music etc. Basically I want to blog about everything I love – I hope that’s OK with you all. Don’t worry though, this is still very much a book blog. Let’s get onto my other goals.
  • Read 100 books – I may or may not lessen this but for now I want to keep it at 100 books. I only just managed it in 2017 though so we’ll see what happens.
  • Read 12 classics and 5 non fiction books.
  • Reach 500 followers – I would love to grow this blog even more and reach new followers.
  • Improve photography – I want to improve my photos and possibly try new ways to showcase books to you guys.
  • Keep consistent with my posting and come up with new post ideas.

 

I am looking forward to another year of blogging, although thinking about a years worth of blog posts is a little daunting. Hopefully 2018 will be a fantastic blogging and reading year. Have you got any goals for 2018? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa