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

Direwolves and Dragons Book Tag

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. I haven’t done a tag for a while now so that is what I’m going to be doing today. This tag was created by Charlotte aka Bookmarks and Vlogging and you can check out the original here. I don’t really have anything else to say so I’m just going to get started.

 

Grey Wind – a book with a strong leader/strong first book in a series
I had to think about this one but I think I’m going to pick Mara from the Empire trilogy by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts. When her father and old brother die, she becomes the Lady of Acoma and must ensure the survival of her House. Mara is a fantastic protagonist and becomes a strong leader. So this can be used for a book with a strong leader and strong first book in a series. If you enjoy fantasy with a lot of intrigue then I highly recommend reading this trilogy. Check out my full review of this trilogy here.

 

Lady – a book with a noble character/setting
My first answer for this one was kind of a spoiler so instead I’m picking the Queens of Renthia trilogy by Sarah Beth Durst. In this world everything has a spirit and they can only be controlled by the Queen, who is constantly using her powers to protect her citizens. Young women are chosen to train as heirs, so one can replace the Queen as soon as she dies. I love Daleina as a protagonist and the setting of the trilogy is fantastic.

 

Nymeria – a book with an adventurous character/an adventure
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Bilbo goes on an adventure at the very start of this book. This is a fantastic adventure story and I highly recommend checking it out. I think it’s actually time for a reread for me.

 

Summer – a book with a loyal character/best sidekick
For this one, I think I’m going with Jean from the Gentleman Bastards sequence by Scott Lynch. He is very loyal to Locke, even when he’s being a bit aggravating. They’ve been through a lot together and I cannot wait to see what happens to them in the rest of the series.

 

Shaggydog – a book with a morally grey character
Sorry for the repeat answer, but I’m going with the Gentleman Bastard sequence. Locke is definitely morally grey. He’s pretty ruthless when he wants to be.

 

Ghost – a book that surprised you
This year I was really surprised by The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi. I didn’t know much about it when I picked it up but it’s become one of my favourite books. I loved it and I definitely didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I highly recommend checking it out. The covers is also amazing.

 

Drogon – a book with an aggressive character/a battle
I recently started the Faithful and the Fallen series by John Gwynne and there are some fantastic battles in these books. So far I’ve read the first two books and loved them both, so I cannot wait to continue with the series.

 

 Rhaegal – a book with an unlucky character
I wasn’t really sure about this one but I’m going with Fitz from the Realm of the Elderlings series. I don’t know if he really fits into this category but he does go through a lot and I’m basing it off that.

 

Viserion – a book with an icy setting/a cold character
The Riddle by Alison Croggon, which is the second book in the Pellinor series. A large portion of the book is spent in the realm of Arkan, the Winterking, who is the personification of ice so this book has an icy setting and a cold character. This is one of my all time favourite series and I will take every opportunity to talk about it.

 

 

That’s the end of this tag. It actually took me a while to come up with some of these answers but I got there in the end :). I tag anyone who wants to do this tag. 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

 

 

 

T5W: Favourite Magic System

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 you favourite magic systems. I’ve given a brief explanation of each system so let’s get started.

 

  • Allomancy from the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson – 
    Basically allomancers have the ability to burn metal that enables them to access a range of mental or physical enhancements. For example burning tin enables an enhancement of the five senses while burning pewter enhances physical strength. There are 8 basic Allomantic metals and each has a different affect on the allomancer. A Misting is a person who can burn one metal and a Mistborn is a person who can burn all of them.
  • The seven bells from the Old Kingdom trilogy by Garth Nix
    The seven bells are used by the Abhorsen to protect against Death. Each bell is named and has a distinct power. The smallest bell is called Ranna (or the sleepbringer) and it causes listeners to fall asleep. Astarael (or the sorrowful), the largest bell, sends all who hear her deep into Death.
  • Powder mages from the Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan 
    Powder mages use gun powder as the source of their power and they are also referred to as Marked. By orally consuming or snorting gun powder, they can enter ‘Powder Trances’ in which their senses are heightened and are physically enhanced. Powder mages can also manipulate the explosive reaction of gun powder.
  • The Wit from the Realm of the Elderlings series by Robin Hobb 
    The Wit is an ability that allows the user to feel a connection with all living things. It also allows the user to create a telepathic link with an animal – you can only be bonded to one animal at a time but a person can have multiple bonds throughout his/her life if their animal companion dies.
  • Furies from the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher 
    Furies are elemental spirits that inhabit the whole of Alera. During early childhood or adoloscent years, Alerans manifest personal furies and control them with their mind. There are six types of Furies; Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Metal and Wood. There are also wild Furies which make up a large part of this world. Wind furies can be used to fly, while water furies can be used for healing and so on.

 

That’s all I have for today. I love a good magic system so this weeks topic was so fun to do. These are definitely some of my favourite from some of my favourite books. What are some of your favourite magic systems? I’d love to know. 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

 

 

This is my genre tell me yours book tag

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. When in doubt in about what to post, do a tag :). So I saw this tag a couple of weeks ago on the lovely Kate’s blog (check her out – reading through infinity) and thought I’d do it. I wasn’t tagged by anyone, but I’m going to use this opportunity to talk about my favourite genre. Let’s get started with the questions.

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Rules:
  • Credit Drew at The Tattooed Book Geek as the creator of the tag. Either use the created tag name graphic or create your own and link back to his blog.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Tag as many people as you want.

 

What’s your favourite genre?
Take a guess… no surprise to anyone following my blog, it’s fantasy. My favourite subgenres include epic and military fantasy. Urban fantasy is probably the subgenre I read the least of.

 

Who is your favourite author from the genre?
I have quite a few favourites, so this may take a while :). My favourites include Robin Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, Brian McClellan, Ken Liu, Garth Nix, Sebastien de Castell, Nahoko Uehashi, Kij Johnson, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Juliet Marillier.

 

What is it about the genre that keeps you pulling back?
I think it’s the escapism of it. I love losing myself in a good book, especially if it’s a fantastical world with unforgettable characters. I just love reading fantasy books and have for quite a few years now.

 

What’s the book that started your love for your favourite genre?
I have four series that got me into the genre – the Old Kingdoms trilogy by Garth Nix, the Magician’s Guild trilogy by Trudi Canavan, the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini and the Pellinor series by Alison Croggon. I first read these series in my mid teens and I attribute them to getting me into fantasy and reading as a whole. I still love each of these series and would definitely recommend checking them out.

 

If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading the genre, what would you choose and why?
The first thing that comes to mind is The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. I think it can be a great introduction to this genre, as it’s an entertaining read that can be enjoyed by a range of people.  I’ve done a post all about recommending fantasy books to read if you’re new to the genre, which you can check out here if interested. Other books I’d recommend include the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver, the Moribito series by Nahoko Uehashi and the Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell.

 

Why do you read?
As I mentioned earlier, it’s the escapism of it. I just love reading it.

 

Adding in a question here: What are your top TBR books from your favourite genre?

 

I tag:
That’s all I have for you today. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about my favourite genre, so I hope you enjoyed this tag. What’s your favourite genre? 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