The Winter of the Witch / Katherine Arden

Title / The Winter of the Witch
Author / Katherine Arden
Publication Date / January 2019
Series or standalone / book 3 of 3
Page no. / 384
Overall Rating / ★★
This is the third and final book in the Winternight trilogy. It resumes directly after the events of the second book, The Girl in the Tower. As with the previous books, this sequel is influenced by Russian folklore and is partly set in Moscow. Once again, we follow Vasilisa “Vasya” Petrovna, a young girl trying to find her place in medieval Russia. In this world folklore creatures exist but they are slowly dying as people turn to the church instead of them. To avoid spoilers, I will not be going into detail on the plot as this is the last book in a trilogy. It is one of my most anticipated book releases of 2019.
 
The first two books were fantastic, so I had high hopes for this conclusion and it did not disappoint. Once again Arden has woven together a compelling story, fantastic characters and an atmospheric world. From the very beginning, I knew that I was going to love this one as much as the previous two books. The stakes are higher in this instalment and you are thrown straight back into the action. The plot kept me gripped all the way through and once I started reading, I didn’t want to put the book down. This instalment pulls no punches and Arden manages to take the plot to unexpected places. It was fantastic to see how everything fell into place in this conclusion, after all the build up of the first two books. The pacing is definitely a little faster than the previous two books and it pulls you through the story at quite a rapid pace. Once again, the writing is fantastic, and I found it so easy to settle into the flow of the story. I will say that there is no recap of past events so if it’s been a while since you read the previous books, it may be best to reread the first and second book before jumping into this one. I had no issues re-entering this world, but it may be something to be aware of.
 
The characters are another strength of this book and trilogy as a whole. Arden has created a cast of characters that are full of complexity and their development in this instalment was so well done. Vasya is a fantastic protagonist and Arden has done a great done at developing her character while remaining true to what we know of her from the previous books. We have seen her progress from a young, naïve girl to a strong, independent woman and I loved every second of it. Vasya is now one of my favourite female protagonists. In terms of other characters, this instalment introduces us to some new ones as well as bringing back many familiar faces. Each character is complex and flawed with distinct voices and interesting back stories. I also loved the moral ambiguity of some characters towards of the end of the book, as it raises the question of what is good and bad. It is not so easily defined, and everyone has a bit of both in them. As with the previous books, romance plays a part in the story, but it never takes centre stage and I love that Vasya remains a strong, independent woman alongside her falling in love.
 
Lastly the world is once again vivid and atmospheric. We get to spend some more time in Moscow in this instalment, as well as some new areas of the world. I’ve not read any other fantasy books with a Russian setting, so it is quite refreshing for me. The way Arden has blended medieval Russia with a distinct folklore feel is fantastic as it makes for an atmospheric read that will keep you gripped from beginning to end. Arden has captured the feel of fairytales/folklore so well in this trilogy and I loved that in this instalment we are introduced to more of the magical parts of this world. If you enjoy good world building, then these books will not disappoint you. The world is wonderfully written, and I cannot say enough good things about it. I would love to see more books set in this world.
 
Overall this was an incredible conclusion to this trilogy and I cannot recommend these books enough. The atmospheric and vivid setting is one of the main strengths, along with the well written characters and compelling plot. Each book is just as good as the last, if not better, and they make perfect winter reads. I cannot recommend this book (and trilogy) highly enough. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any future releases by this author and hope to see more of this world. If you are looking for a new fantasy trilogy to start, then I would recommend checking this one out, especially if you enjoy fantasy influenced by folklore. Have you started this trilogy? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

Pippa


Anticipated Books 2019

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s the start of the new year, which means it’s time for me to share my anticipated books of 2019. I’ll warn you now that this is a long one, so grab a cup a tea or a snack :). There are a lot of new releases that I am excited for; some are sequels and others are first in a series or standalones. If a book is part of a series I’ve stated what number the book is in the series, so you know which books are sequels. Since there are a lot of them, I’m not going to go into detail about any of them otherwise this would be a very long post. Instead I’ve linked to each books goodreads page, as well as linked to Waterstones or Wordery using my affiliate links if you guys want to preorder any of them. One last thing before we get started, releases dates are subject to change so the dates shown below may change. The dates used are right as of posting this in the beginning of January but it is possible that some may be pushed back – dates are of UK releases.  Let’s get started.
Janaury:
February:
April:
May:
July & August:
September – December:
TBA:
  • The Comb with the Two Headed Dragon / Book 3 / William Andrews
  • Harp of Kings / Juliet Marillier / GR
  • The Last Emperox / Book 3 / John Scalzi / GR
  • Unconquerable Sun / Kate Elliott / GR
  • Untitled / Book 3 / Ken Liu / GR
  • Untitled / Book 3 / Nicholas Eames / GR
  • Untitled / Book 3 / David Mealing 
As you can see there are a lot of exciting books releases this year, and I’m sure more will be added to this list as the year progresses. These are the ones I’m aware of and excited for but I’m sure I’ve missed some. What are you most anticipated books of 2019? I’d love to know. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa

5 Reasons to read The Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Today it’s time for my first review of the new year and it’s going to be a 5 reasons to read style review. I ended the year with a sticking cold so I wasn’t in the best state to be writing reviews. This kind of review can be simpler to write so I hope you guys don’t mind. Luckily I’m finally seeing the end of the cold so I’ll be back to full strength soon. Anyway, I wanted to talk about The Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier for this post. I loved this book so much and I thought it was about time to share my thoughts with you guys.If you love books with mythology and/or a fairytale feel then you need to check this book out.

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  • It is a historical fantasy book loosely based on the Celtic myth, the Six Swans so if you enjoy books based on myths and/or have a distinct fairy tale feel to them then you need to check out this book. I knew very little about this particular myth but I found it to be very accessible and I loved the story – I cannot comment on how closely this book follows the story of the myth though.
  • Although quite slow in pace at times, the story is compelling throughout. Marillier does a fantastic job at weaving all of the plot threads together. I loved every second of reading this story. 
  • The writing is fantastic. From the very first chapter I was drawn into the story and world. This was my first book by this author and I found it so easy to settle into the flow of the writing. 
  • This book contains a wonderful cast of characters. Sorcha is the fantastic main protagonist – her development through this book is so well done. The story is told from Sorcha’s view alone. The secondary characters are also incredibly well written. 
  • This book is one of my favourites and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is one of those books that I will always be able to reread.

That’s all for today. As you can probably tell Daughter of the Forest is one of my favourite books and I thought it was about time I reviewed it. I’m sorry the review is a bit short but I wanted to get something out for you guys. Have you guys 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 Queens of Renthia / Sarah Beth Durst

Title / The Queen of Blood, The Reluctant Queen and The Queen of Sorrow
Author / Sarah Beth Durst
Publication Date / 2016, 2017 and 2018
Genre / Fantasy
Series or standalone / Trilogy
Page no. / 353, 360 and 419
Star Rating / ★★★★
 
Don’t trust the fire, for it will burn you.
Don’t trust the ice, for it will freeze you.
Don’t trust the water, for it will drown you.
Don’t trust the air, for it will choke you.
Don’t trust the earth, for it will bury you.
Don’t trust the trees, for they will rip you,
rend you, tear you, kill you dead.

This is a YA fantasy trilogy set in the fictional world of Aratay. This land is full of spirits that represent elements and these spirits want to rid the world of humans. However without the spirits, the world would die, so the humans must live together with them. The one defence against these inherently aggressive spirits is the Queen, who is the only one that can control them. Young women that show talent in controlling spirits are trained as heirs so one can replace the queen when she dies. When a queen dies another must be ready to assume control of all the spirits, otherwise the spirits will destroy everything. This is a brief description of the setting of this trilogy. The world is one of my favourite things about these books. It is so vividly written. Nature is very much entwined into this world and I loved that about the setting. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before. So if you’re looking for fantasy with a unique setting, then you need to check out these books. I cannot say enough good things about this world. 

There is also a fantastic cast of characters. All of the characters are wonderfully written. They are all flawed and complex with interesting back stories. I also loved the way the relationships were developed throughout the three books. The characters are definitely one of the main strengths of this trilogy. In the first book we mainly follow Daleina, but in the second and third book we have the added perspective of Naelin. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with this initially because I loved Daleina as a character, but it does work well for the story and the change did grow on me.  One of my favourite things in the first book is that Daleina isn’t the most powerful heir. She has to work hard for what she wants and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to that. Another thing I love about this trilogy is the strong, interesting women that play such a big role in each book. Basically, there is a fantastic cast of characters in this trilogy and I would love to see more from them.

The plot is developed so well throughout these three books, although the third book felt a little rushed to me. The plot remains compelling in each book and there are some fantastic twists. Intrigue plays a big part in each book and Durst writes these elements so well. As I said I do think the third book felt a little rushed at times and I did get quite frustrated with Naelin, but I still really enjoyed this instalment and it was a great conclusion to the trilogy. 

Overall this is a fantastic trilogy that features one of my all time favourite worlds. If you enjoy fantasy, especially YA fantasy, then I highly recommend checking these books out. A companion book to this trilogy, The Deepest Blue, is set to be released Spring 2019. I definitely plan on checking it out. Have you read these books? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

Pippa

T5W: Books with fantastic female protagonists to gift to any fantasy lovers

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 books to give as gifts. For this one, I’ve decided to share 5 books to gift to any fantasy lover who loves fantastic female protagonists. Basically I’m taking this opportunity to talk about some of my favourite fantasy books. You guys know I love the genre and I like to take any opportunity to talk about my favourites. All the books I’m going to mention are fantastic and I would highly recommend checking them out. Sorry for the long title – I couldn’t work out how to shorten it. Let’s get started.

All of these books are fantastic and I love the female protagonists so of course I’m taking the opportunity to share them. Have you read any of 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

The Faithful and the Fallen series / John Gwynne

Title / Malice, Valour, Ruin and Wrath
Author / John Gwynne
Publication Date / 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016
Genre / Fantasy
Series or standalone / 4 book series
Page no. / 646, 648, 800 and 736
Star Rating / ★★★★.5

This is a four book epic fantasy series set in the fictional world of the Banished Land. The first book, Malice, was Gwynne’s debut novel. Each book is written using multiple perspectives, although we mainly follow the events centred around one of the main characters, Corban. I will not be going into detail on the plot because I don’t want to spoil anything. 

In terms of the plot, these books will keep you on your toes. There are many twists and turns that keep each book engaging and the pacing maintains the flow the story really well. The plot is compelling throughout and I loved every second of reading these books. The action scenes are another strength in this series. Moving onto the world building. The Banished Land is a wonderfully written fantasy world with interesting history and cultures. It was great to be able to see various parts of this world throughout the four books. The Faithful and the Fallen series is epic in scale and so enjoyable to read. I cannot say enough good things about these four books. 

Overall this is a fantastic series and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s definitely one of my favourite series now. If you are looking for a new epic fantasy series to read, check these books out. A Time of Dread is the first book in a sequel series set 130 year after the events of Wrath and is also well worth a read. Seriously these books were so good. Have you guys read this series? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time. 

Pippa

Shadow of the Fox / Julie Kagawa

Title / Shadow of the Fox
Author / Julie Kagawa
Publication Date / Nov. 2018
Genre / YA Fantasy
Series or standalone / Series
Page no. / 384
Star Rating / ★★★

*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
This is the first book in a YA fantasy series set in a Japanese inspired world. A young half kitsune (fox) peasant girl must leave her insular life to protect a scroll that could bring about a disaster. While I enjoyed this book overall, I did have quite a few issues with it too. First of all, I really liked the setting of this book. As I mentioned earlier this is a Japanese inspired world that is inhabited by humans and yōkai (supernatural beings from Japanese folklore). The world is separated into clans, one of which is the Emperor’s own royal clan. Although I would say it lacked a little depth, the world is generally quite well written. I would have liked to have a better understanding of the history and politics of the world but at less then 400 pages this book doesn’t really have the space to have intricate world building. I found the elements of Japanese mythology interesting and it was probably my favourite thing about this book. However if you are unfamiliar with Japanese mythology and/or words then you may be a little confused at times. There is a glossary of terms at the end of the book which will be helpful to you, or you can resort to a quick Google search. I had no issues with this but it is something to be aware of going in.
I enjoyed the plot overall, although I think it lacked a little cohesion. The middle section of the book felt a lot like filler. At the beginning of the book the main task is given, but the characters partake in mini adventures along the way and these make up the majority of the book. First of all, the task must not have a time pressure and second of all it felt like a way to prolong the weak plot. Having said that, there was something about it that kept me reading and despite the flaws I did enjoy it overall. It was a quick, entertaining read and the ending set up well for the sequel. In terms of the characters, we follow three main character perspective; Yumeko, Tatsumi and Suki. The majority of the book is divided between Yumeko and Tatsumi, with Suki’s perspective sprinkled a couple of times throughout the 384 pages. I personally felt the characters lacked development but I liked the majority of them. A cast of supporting characters is introduced throughout and I enjoyed their interactions with each other. The romance is entirely predictable but it didn’t really bother me as it’s not the main focus of the book. I’m hoping that the romance will not play a central role in future books. Both the plot and the characters are quite formulaic in terms of the YA fantasy genre, but I still enjoyed the overall reading experience.
Overall I liked this introduction to this series, but I definitely had issues with it. The sequel, Soul of the World, is set to be released in June 2019. At present I am undecided whether I will continue this series. We’ll see if I’m still interested when it is released. If you enjoy YA fantasy and/or like Japanese inspired worlds then I would recommend checking this book out. Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa