It’s Monday… What are you reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

 

So I’m currently reading two books, although I’ve only just started both of them. The first is The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst, and the second is A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro. Both of which I am very excited to read. I also kind of want to get to The Power by Naomi Alderman by the end of the month but I haven’t started it yet.
Goodreads synopsis of A Pale View of Hills: In his highly acclaimed debut, A Pale View of Hills, Kazuo Ishiguro tells the story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her daughter. Retreating into the past, she finds herself reliving one particular hot summer in Nagasaki, when she and her friends struggled to rebuild their lives after the war. But then as she recalls her strange friendship with Sachiko – a wealthy woman reduced to vagrancy – the memories take on a disturbing cast.
I’m not going to give a synopsis of The Reluctant Queen as it is the second book in the Queens of Renthia trilogy and I don’t want to spoil it. I loved the first book in this fantasy series so I am very much looking forward to reading it’s sequel. I have a spoiler free review of The Queen of Blood (first book in the trilogy) which you can check out here.

 

There are so many books that I want to read but these are the two that I am currently reading. Hopefully I can read a few more books by the end of the month. Have you guys read either of these books? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

Favourite Places I’ve Visited

Hi guys, I thought I would do something a little different post today. I’m fortunate to have travelled a fair bit in my life so far and I wanted to share some of my favourite places I’ve been. Now I’m by no means a travelling expert – these are just some places I like that I’ve been lucky enough to visit. I would love to travel more but it also makes me very anxious. I’ve never travelled on my own before (always with family or on a school trip) so maybe that is something to work towards in the future. All photos are my own. Let’s get started.
  1. Prague, Czech Republic  – I’ve been here twice now and I have loved it both times. It is such a lovely place and it’s a great place to just wander around.
  2. Hong Kong – I’ve only been here once and not for very long but I absolutely loved it. It was such a great place and the food was amazing. The flight there is pretty bad but it’s worth it once you get there.
  3. Italy – I’ve been to a few places in Italy and I’ve loved all of them but one of my favourites is Siena – I also love Rome and Venice. I can’t seem to find my photos of Siena so I’ll show some other places I’ve been instead.
  4. New York, America – the only place I’ve been to in America. I’ve been there twice now and I have loved it both times.
I hope to travel more in the future – I would love to go back to Hong Kong, see more of America, see more of Italy, visit Japan, visit China, visit Germany etc. Looking back at some of these photos I’m kind of annoyed that I didn’t take me photos. Anyway I hope in the future I will have the confidence to travel on my own but at the moment I think my anxiety would get the better of me. What is your favourite place you’ve visited? And what’s on your travel wishlist? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Eagles of Rome trilogy / Ben Kane

Title / Eagles At War, Hunting the Eagles and Eagles in the Storm
Author / Ben Kane
Publication Date / 2015, 2016, 2017
Overall Star Rating / 
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: In the summer of 9 CE, Publius Varus, the Roman governor of Germania, and Lucius Tullus, a centurion garrisoned on the Rhine, march east with three legions. As they prepare to return to their winter quarters, they are lured off the road and ambushed by German warriors. The Germans are led by Arminius, a chieftain who is a trusted ally of Rome—and a man who has been secretly planning to betray the empire since childhood. Trapping Varus’ legionaries between a hillside and a marsh, and thereby preventing them from forming up or using their artillery, Arminius and his warriors wreak a terrible slaughter. The Roman defeat is overwhelming, but it is not until the third day of the massacre that the scale of Arminius’ victory becomes clear. Three legions, upwards of 14,000 men, have been annihilated, and three treasured Eagle standards have been lost. Just a few hundred legionaries, including Tullus, manage to escape. Nor is the survivors’ ordeal over. Pursued to the last Roman fort east of the Rhine, they are besieged by thousands of bloodthirsty tribesmen. Only the gods can save them now.

 

I picked up the first book up on a bit of a whim as I wanted to try out more historical fiction. I’m glad I did, although it take me a while to get into the first book. I thought this trilogy was a fantastic military historical fiction depicting the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD (the first book). Now I knew very little about this time period before reading this book, so I can’t so much about the accuracy of the historical elements, but I thought this was a fantastically realised trilogy. Personally, I felt that you could really tell that the author had done his research for these books. The world felt very authentic and from the beginning of the first book I was immersed in this world. The level of detail in this trilogy really lends itself to creating a very vivid world but at the same time it is very readable. It is not bogged down by all of the details. As I have briefly mentioned before, I do not know a lot about this time period, so I cannot comment on its accuracy. I can only say that the world Kane created is a vivid one. After reading this trilogy I am definitely interested in trying more historical fiction set in this time period.
The writing is great and so easy to get into. Kane does a fantastic job at creating tension and the overall atmosphere throughout the trilogy was so well done. It adds so much to the reading experience. This means that even if you know the history behind this time period and battle, you will still enjoy the book, despite knowing what will happen. The narrative does switch between a few perspectives (mainly switches between Arminius and Tullus), all of which are engaging but it’s perhaps something to be aware of if you are not normally a fan of multiple perspectives. The characters are all well written, if a little wooden at times. Having said that, I thought their progression throughout the trilogy was good. I will say that these books are quite battle focused and have a fair amount of violence in them, so if you’re a little squeamish than I would probably avoid this trilogy. The second book didn’t quite have the same intensity as the first and third book, in my opinion. I did still enjoy it, but it felt a little lacking. These books were pretty quick reads for me though, as the plot is engaging. There were a few instances of the plot dragging a little bit but the writing and world meant it was still gripping. Basically I thought this was an enjoyable historical fiction trilogy and I would definitely recommend checking it out.

 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic military historical fiction trilogy. I didn’t know much about this time period before reading this and I would definitely say you don’t need any prior knowledge to enjoy this trilogy. I think these are great reads for any historical fiction fan. I am interested in trying more books by this author. I’m sorry this review is quite short but hopefully it means that it’s concise :). Have you guys read these books? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Mini Reviews: Fantasy

Hi guys I hope you are all well. It’s time for my first review post for August and surprise, surprise I’m going to be talking about some fantasy books :). Today I thought I would do some mini reviews and talk about some first books in a series, so I have 3 mini reviews for you guys. I don’t know if I’ll continue on with each of these series – one of them I don’t think I will. We have a assassin fantasy book, an urban fantasy and one which I’m just going to call regular fantasy… I don’t really know what else to call it. Anyway let’s get started.

 

The Sentinel Mage / Emily Gee / ★★★
For the most part I thought this was a sold first book in this trilogy, although it definitely has some flaws. It’s probably somewhere between 2.5/3 star rating. I didn’t know a lot about it before reading it but I ended up quite enjoying it. For the most part, it is pretty predictable and it is nothing new in terms of the fantasy genre, however I still found it to be an engaging and enjoyable read. The romance is entirely predictable and kind of annoying.  If you are looking for new and unique fantasy books than this isn’t the book for you. If you still enjoy traditional fantasy than it may be worth a read. It was an easy and quick read that has a magic system that I liked. There could have been more character development but perhaps that will happen more in the next two books. The women especially, I wanted more depth from them. It felt like we were only brushing the surface of each character, which makes it a little trickier to connect with them. I think this book could have been shorten a little bit without removing any important information or enjoyment. Overall I liked it, but it wasn’t perfect – I am interested in continuing with this trilogy at some point but it won’t be a priority for me. So who knows if I’ll actually ever continue with this trilogy…

 

 

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A Dance With Cloaks / David Daglish / ★★
To be honest this was quite an average read for me. Don’t get me wrong I liked it, but I wasn’t blown away by it and I didn’t love it. It was quite a predictable read to me and I never felt fully invested in the characters or plot. The world building was generally good, but could have maybe done with a bit more depth. I found the characters to be quite inconsistent at times and Aaron kind of bugged me a little bit. There are quite alot of characters to keep track of, which becomes a bit of a chore and it makes it hard to fully understand what is going on. Overall I liked it, but it also fell a little flat for me. At the moment I very much doubt that I’ll continue with this series – it’s a six book series and I just can’t see myself committing to that after not loving the first book. This one just fell quite flat for me. Also if you’re squeamish about anything eye related than maybe avoid this as there is some eye gouging.

 

 

Rivers of London / Ben Aaronovitch / ★★★
I’ve had my eyes on these books for a while as my sister enjoys them and I trust her judgement. I finally decided to pick the first book up recently and I thought this was a great urban fantasy book. I haven’t had much luck with urban fantasy before but this one was really good. The mix of the fantasy genre and the crime/mystery genre was mixed very well. The characters were great, the plot was engaging and it was easy to get into. Overall this was a fun, quick and entertaining read and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you are a fan of urban fantasy. I will be continuing on with this series – I think it currently has six books out but I don’t know if more are planned.

 

 

That’s all I have to talk about today. I’d love to know if there are any fantasy books you think I should read or any you want a review of. I am always interested in trying out new fantasy books. Have you guys read these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

 

Pippa

 

 

Tome Topple TBR

Hi guys, I’m back with an additional post today as I wanted to share my TBR for a certain readathon that starts tomorrow. Tome Topple was created by Sam (@ Thoughts on Tomes) and is all about big books. This round of the Tome Topple readathon will start at midnight on August 4th and end on the 17th, so it goes on for around two weeks. The whole point of this readathon is to read big books (over 500 pages). You don’t need to finish the books – the point is to tackle some of the daunting big books on your TBR. There are also a few challenges you can take part of. I have taken part in this readathon and think it is such a great idea. Let’s get onto the challenges and TBR.

 

Challenges:
1. Read more than 1 tome
2. Read a graphic novel (still over 500 pages!)
3. Read a tome that is part of a series
4. Buddy read a tome
5. Read an adult novel

 

To be honest I’m not going to pressure myself to much with these challenges but as it turns out the books I’ve chosen work quite well with a few of these challenges. The first one I should be able to do as I think I am quite a fast reader. I won’t be getting to a graphic novel – one because I don’t currently own any unread graphic novels and two because I don’t have any on my TBR that is 500+ pages. I doubt I’ll buddy read a tome either. A book that is a part of a series is Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts (827 pages), which I will definitely be reading. It is the second book in the Empire trilogy. For the last challenge (read a adult novel) I’ve chosen Germinal by Emile Zola (592 pages). I’ve had this on my TBR for quite some time so I thought this would be a great time to pick it up. The picture below is a tentative TBR for Tome Topple readathon – obviously I won’t get to all of them though.

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I’m very much looking forward to tackling these bigger books :). Are you guys taking part in this readathon? What’s the biggest book on your TBR? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Mulan Book Tag

Hi guys, it’s time for a book tag. I was tagged by the lovely Kate (@ Reading Through Infinity) so thank you very much for the tag. You should definitely check out her blog if you haven’t already – it’s fantastic. When I saw that it was a tag based around Mulan, I had to do it. Mulan is probably my favourite Disney film – there is also a really good live action Chinese version that is well worth watching. Anyway let’s get started.

 

THE RULES:
  • Mention the creator (Kirsty and the Cat Read)
  • Thank/mention the person who tagged you
  • Match books or characters to the questions below
  • Tag as many people as you like

 

1. REFLECTION “WHEN WILL MY REFLECTION SHOW WHO I AM INSIDE” – AN INACCURATE BOOK COVER THAT DOESN’T REALLY REFLECT WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT

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Maybe these editions of the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld…  I just thought they could have represented this world better. I don’t hate these covers but I think the second and third book in particular could have been done better.

 

2. MUSHU – A CHARACTER WITH A LOT TO PROVE

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The first character that comes to mind is Daleina from the Queens of Renthia series by Sarah Beth Durst. She has a lot to prove in the sense that everyone underestimates her because she’s not the strongest magically, but she has a lot of strength. I feel like she has a lot to prove to herself too. I am very excited to read book 2, The Reluctant Queen, hopefully this month. Also Mushu is amazing :).

 

3. “I’LL MAKE A MAN OUTTA YOU!” – A CHARACTER WHO DEVELOPS THE MOST OR A BOOK WITH SOME KICK-ASS TRAINING SCENES

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The first character that comes to mind is Tavi from the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. Through this six book series, we see around 10 years of his life and so we see him grow from awkward teenager to a young man. I think the character development is one of the main strengths of this series. I highly recommend checking this series out.

 

4. “A GIRL WORTH FIGHTING FOR” – A SHIP YOU WILL DEFEND TILL YOUR LAST BREATH

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To be honest I don’t really ship things, but if I had to choose I would probably go with Sabriel and Touchstone from the Old Kingdoms trilogy by Garth Nix. I just love their relationship so much and I think they work so well together.

 

5.HUNS – A BOOK/CHARACTER THAT GIVES YOU THE CREEPS

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Adrius au Augustus aka the Jackal from the Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown. He’s a pretty creepy guy. I definitely wouldn’t want to meet the guy as he’s also quite volatile. His character is so well written though. This trilogy is so good and I am very excited for the release of Iron Gold next year.

 

6. MULAN – YOUR FAVOURITE BADASS FEMALE PROTAGONIST

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There are so many to choose from… some of my favourites from books I’ve read this year include Pole and Vlora from Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan, Nona from Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, Maniye from The Bear and the Serpent by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Daleina from The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst and Sorcha from The Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.

 

So that was the Mulan Book Tag. Thanks again to the lovely Kate for tagging me, not that I needed any excuse to do this tag :). I am both excited and sceptical/cautious about the live action remake.  Have you guys read any of the books I mentioned? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Daughter of the Empire / Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

Title / Daughter of the Empire
Author / Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts
Publication Date / 1987 (first published)
Page no. / 528
Overall Star Rating / ★ 

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Goodreads synopsis: Enter the mysterious and exotic world of Kelewan…
Mara, the youngest child of the ancient and noble Acoma family, is about to take her pledge of servitude to the goddess Lashima when the ceremony is disrupted by news of her father and brother’s death in battle. Despite her grief, as the only surviving member of her house, Mara must now take up the mantles of Ruling Lady. But she soon discovers betrayal at the heart of her family’s loss, and the Acoma’s enemies have brought her house to the brink of utter destruction. Mara, an inexperienced political player, must draw on all her wit, intelligence and cunning to navigate the ruthless Game of the Council, regain the honour of House Acoma and secure the future of her family. But with assassins waiting around every corner, it might take everything Mara has simply to survive. Daughter of the Empire is the first in Feist and Wurts’ wonderful epic trilogy – one of the most successful fantasy collaborations of all time. The trilogy continues with the second book, Servant of the Empire

 

I picked this up after searching for some Asian inspired (specifically East Asian) fantasy and this series came up. I didn’t know much about it and had never heard to talked about in the bookish community but I thought I’ d try it out. I am so glad I did as I ended up really enjoying this one. First off the world, this is set in a Japanese style world called Kelawen. The world is one of the main strengths of this book, in my opinion but in many ways it is also a weakness. It is such an interesting world and it has so much potential that wasn’t fully realised. I found it to be quite insular because it focuses very much on the immediate world around Mara, but I would have preferred a broader insight into the world as a whole. It could have used a little more depth (by that I mean I wanted more information) at times – for example a new species is introduced early on and are very important for about a chapter but then we don’t hear from them at all. As I’ve already mentioned, I wanted to know more of the world as a whole, not just the world Mara experiences. Perhaps we will get this in the later books… I hope we do. I think this world is also linked to some of Feist’s of works so maybe there is more information in those… I don’t know for sure on that though. This book would be a good one to read if you like fantasy with little magic in, as it has very little magic in.

 

I think the characters are all fantastically written. Mara is a great female protagonist, although I think she did suffer a little with the perfect main character trope thing. What I mean is that she seems immediately able to deal with the politics and know what to do – yes she does have some doubt but she slips quick easily into the world it seems. I wanted her to seem more vulnerable and unsure of herself, then again she has grow up in this world and presumably knows what to expect. There were only a few moments of doubt and she’s only supposed to be 17 but I think she felt older to me. Having said all that, I really liked her as the female protagonist. There are many other interesting characters around her too and they are all well written. The only one I felt a bit unsure of was Bunto as I thought his character was inconsistent at times – also he’s just not very nice most of the time. Although there are quite a few characters, it was pretty easy to keep track of them all. In terms of the plot, I think it progresses very well. I’ve seen this described as political fantasy and I would definitely agree with that – it is heavy with politics and intrigue. This means this is quite a slow fantasy books, because it focuses more on the characters and their standing in society, instead of having many action scenes. Personally I really enjoyed this but if you are looking for an action packed fantasy book than this one isn’t for you. There are definitely a few plot holes in this book but I’m not going to go into too much detail with them because… spoilers. There were just a few things that I questioned a little bit but I found that I could look past these and so it didn’t affect my overall reading experience/enjoyment of the book. At times things also seemed to happen a little too neatly, if that makes sense.  The thing to note is that if you are not interested in behaviour and manners (from an Asian inspired culture), than this is again probably not for you. There is a lot of writing about the way someone should be referred to, or the hierarchy, or filial piety, or even how low to bow to certain people etc. This all makes up an important part of the culture within the book and so is heavily mentioned – personally I liked this but I don’t think everyone will.

 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this new series. If you enjoy politics and intrigue, and Asian inspired fantasy, then you should definitely check this book out. It was seriously really good – OK so it wasn’t perfect but I still really enjoyed it. I will definitely be picking up the next book as soon as possible.  Maybe I need to read the other Feist books to get a better understanding of the world… if any of you know please let me know :). Have you guys read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa