TTT: Books set in a school

toptentuesday

It is that time of the week for another Top Ten Tuesday. It is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. This weeks topic is a back to school freebie, so I thought I would share my top 10 books set in school. I personally really enjoy this type of setting so it seemed like a good topic to talk about. The books I’m sharing today are some of my favourites and I would recommend checking them all out :). Most of these are fantasy book – one is a mix of dystopian and science fiction. Although I have loved all of these settings, it actually took me quite some time to come up with this list. I have eight books to share so let’s get started.
  1. Wylerly College from Sabriel by Garth Nix.
  2. The University from the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
  3. Hailsham from Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  4. The Magicians Guild from The Black Magicians trilogy by Trudi Canvan
  5. The Academy from the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher 
  6. The Convent of Sweet Mercy from Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
  7. The Order from Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
  8. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst (not sure what the school is called)
That’s it for this weeks top ten Tuesday post :). It took me a while to come up with this topic but I got there in the end. I hope to read more books set in schools in the future, as I really enjoy them. Do you have any favourite fictional schools? I hope you are all having a wonderful and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

The Queen of Blood / Sarah Beth Durst

Title / The Queen of Blood 
Author / Sarah Beth Durst
Publication Date / 2016
Page no. / 368
Overall Star Rating / ★ 

 

Goodreads synopsis: Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms. With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.

 

“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 the first book in the Queens of Renthia trilogy.  I’ve had my eyes on this book for quite some time before I picked it up. In that time I was debating whether or not to pick it up – I thought it was a YA book and I haven’t had much luck with them recently but I finally decided to give it a go for some holiday reading. I am really glad I did. Firstly, I loved the setting. It is one of my favourite things about this book. The concept of every village, town and city being built on massive tree branches is a really cool idea. I think the idea of spirits is also done really well and the world felt very immersive. World building is so important in fantasy books so I’m happy to say that it’s done well in this book. It is definitely a strength of this series. I liked that it isn’t the traditional medieval setting and appreciated the unique nature of this world. If you are looking for new and unique fantasy settings than I would check this book out. I’ve not read many fantasy books with a similar setting. The only thing I would say is that I imagine that this world took inspiration from Lothlórien from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien, but it is still it’s own world – it’s not a copy.  The writing is easy to get into and the plot is compelling. There were quite a few occasions of late night reading while reading this, because I was so engrossed in the story. Certain things I did see coming but there were other things I didn’t. Either way it was still an enjoyable reading experience. It is pretty bloody and nasty at times, but these moments felt well thought out. Sometimes I think nasty moments can be used just to shock you but that isn’t the case with this book – these moments progressed the plot well. Basically I found both the world and the plot immersive, and I’m excited to see where things will go in the next books.

 

I love that the main character Daleina isn’t the most powerful person in this book, she just works really hard. I think that is quite relatable – for me at least, I don’t know about you guys. It’s nice to see a character in a fantasy book that struggles. I feel like in alot of fantasy books the main character, whether their male or female, is the most powerful magic user and adept at using magic within a short time of finding out they have magic. It’s good to see a character that has to work hard for it. Of the heirs, she is probably the worst and that’s quite refreshing. I’m sure there are many people out there with things that don’t come naturally and so they have to work hard for it – I am definitely one of them. All of the other characters are just as well written. I found the Queen to be a very interesting character due to her position. The Queen is the one person in power and that creates a fascinating look into what that type of power can do to a person. Another aspect I loved is the female friendships in this book. As previously mentioned in the goodreads synopsis, the queen is surrounded by heirs. All of these heirs are women and so they live closely with each other as they train. It’s great to see female friendship where they support each other and are there for each other. One thing I hate to see in any book is girl on girl hate for no other reason than their girls, so it was so nice to see these great friendships. I also really liked that the romance is very much in the background and is not a huge part of the story.

 

Overall I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I would definitely recommend checking this out, especially if you are a fan of fantasy. Personally, I’ve not read many books like this one and I appreciated that. I am very excited for the second book, The Reluctant Queen, which is already out. I think this is going to be a trilogy, but please correct me if I am wrong. 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

 

 

 

10 Ongoing Series I’m Loving Right Now

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Today I want to talk about some of my favourite ongoing series. These are basically the series that I want the next book in the life :). I’m quite impatient when it comes to books so I would love all of these sequels to just arrive magically at my door, so I can find out what happens next in each series. No surprises that the majority of these are fantasy series and I do have some honourable mentioned. Let’s get started.
  1. The Winnowing trilogy by Jen Williams – 3 books planned – only 1 out so far – The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twin (unreleased)
  2. Book of the Ancestor trilogy by Mark Lawrence – 3 books planned – only 1 out so far – Red Sister and Grey Sister (unreleased)
  3. The Queens of Renthia trilogy by Sarah Beth Durst – 3 books planned – 2nd book just released – The Queen of BloodThe Reluctant Queen and The Queen of Sorrow (unreleased)
  4. Echoes of the Fall series by Adrian Tchaikovsky – unsure about the length of this series – currently 2 books out – The Tiger and the Wolf and The Bear and the Serpent
  5. Gods of Blood and Powder series by Brian McClellan – possibly 3 books – only 1 out so far – Sins of Empire 
  6. Gentleman Bastard sequences by Scott Lynch – 7 books planned – 3 out so far – Lies of Locke LamoraRed Seas Under Red SkiesThe Republic of Thieves, The Thorn of Emberlain (unreleased), The Ministry of Necessity (unreleased), The Mage and the Master Spy (unreleased) and Inherit the Night (unreleased)
  7. The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon – 6 books planned – 3 out so far – The Bone SeasonThe Mime Order and The Song Rising
  8. Draconis Memoria series by Anthony Ryan – possibly 3 books – 2 out so far – The Waking Fire and The Legion of Flame
  9. The Song of the Shattered Sand series by Bradley P. Bealieu – 6 books planned – 2 out so far – Twelve KingsBlood Upon the Sand and A Veil of Spears (unreleased)
  10. Dandelion Dynasty trilogy by Ken Liu – 3 books planned – 2 out so far – The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms 

 

Honourable mentions: The Bear and the Nightingale series by Katharine Arden, the Cromwell trilogy by Hilary Mantel, The Legends of the First Empire series by Michael J. Sullivan, the Licanius trilogy by James Islington and the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss.

 

What ongoing series are you guys loving at the moment? Are there any sequels you’re impatiently waiting for? Clearly I have quite a few :). 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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Book Haul

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. To be entirely honest with you guys I had no idea what to post today, so I decided to share some of the books I’ve got recently. Let me know if you like book hauls and I can do more in the future. These are books that I’ve accumulated over the last few months. Let’s get started.

 

Servant of the Empire / Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts / Book 2 in the Empire trilogy
Goodreads synopsis: Set in the mysterious world of the Kelewan, Mara of Acoma, is forced to protect her honour and her people in the ruthless Game of the Council. No one can play it better than Mara but to survive she really has to be the best.

 

Empress of Bright Moon / Weina Dai Randal / Book 2 in the Empress of Bright Moon duology
Goodreads synopsis (while trying to avoid too many spoilers) : The second book in this stunning duology, The Empress of Bright Moon follows Mei as she struggles for power within the Emperor’s palace, risking her life to dethrone the murderous Empress and establish herself as the new female ruler of China.

 

City of Dragons / Robin Hobb / Book 3 in the Rain Wild Chronicles
Goodreads synopsis (no spoiler part): Return to the world of the Liveships Traders and journey along the Rain Wild River in the third instalment of high adventure from the author of the internationally acclaimed Farseer trilogy.

 

The Queen of Blood / Sarah Beth Durst / Book 1 in the Queens of Renthia trilogy
Goodreads synopsis: An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure. Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms. With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.

 

The Power / Naomi Alderman
WINNER OF THE 2017 BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION

Goodreads synopsis: What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands? Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed

 

Gather the Daughters / Jennie Melamed / from bookbrigdr
Goodreads synopsis: This book tells the story of an end-of-the-world cult founded years ago when ten men colonised an island. It’s a society in which men reign supreme, breeding is controlled, and knowledge of the outside world is kept to a minimum. Girls are wives-in-training: at the first sign of puberty, they must marry and have children. But until that point, every summer, island tradition dictates that the children live wildly: running free, making camps, sleeping on the beach. And it is at the end of one such summer that one of the youngest girls sees something so horrifying that life on the island can never be the same again.

 

I did also get two new e-books on my kindle – Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier (book 3 of the Sevenwaters series) and Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd (book 1 of the Gods Fragments series). I am sure it comes to no surprise that they are both fantasy books :).

 

So those are all of the books that I picked up over the last few months. I am very excited to read them all but I think I am going to try to read some books that have been on my shelves for a while before reading these new books. We’ll see if that actually happens though. What have you guys picked up recently? Have you read any of these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Flame in the Mist / Renee Ahdieh

Title / Flame in the Mist
Author / Renee Ahdieh
Publication Date / 2017
Overall Star Rating / 

 

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Goodreads synopsis: The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath. So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace. The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

 

When I heard this being pitched as a possible Mulan retelling I was immediately interested in it as Mulan has always been my favourite Disney film and the live action film (2009) is also really good.  I really wanted to love this but unfortunately it didn’t work me. First off I wouldn’t call this a Mulan retelling – for one thing it’s set in Japan, not China and for another the only similarity is that the main character pretends to be a boy. I found the writing to be quite overly dramatic at times, as well as being a little to descriptive. Other than that, I had no issues with the writing. The world building, on the other hand, could have been better. One of the main things that drew me to this book was the world as it is set in Feudal Japan and I was a little disappointed by it. It wasn’t awful by any means but I wanted some much more depth from it. I mainly wanted more of the politics of the world so I could have a better understanding of how this world works and the hierarchies. Unfortunately I didn’t feel like I got that.  Another aspect that I thought was lacking is the magic system. There is literally no real explanation as to what, how, why etc. I want a magic system that I can understand , at least a little of it and there is no information about it in this book – it’s just there and we’re supposed to accept it. Moving on to the plot. It’s super slow, kind of predictable and a bit boring at times. That may sound a little harsh but nothing about the plot had me hooked and it left me feeling wanting so much more. I think the plot idea had some potential but for me it just didn’t work. I think the pacing didn’t help it. Throughout this book the pacing is slow – it never really picks up. As I’ve said in previous reviews I don’t mind slower pacing as the world, plot or characters will pull you through those times, but in this book that wasn’t the case. Speaking of characters, I didn’t like any of them. I went into this expecting to love the main character, Mariko, but dear god is she frustrating and some of her decisions are absolutely ridiculous. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes at her a few times while reading it. I understand that she’s young and may make mistakes but Ahdieh continually tells us that Mariko is super smart and I just really didn’t see it. I felt in this case it was more telling than showing in terms of the writing.  All of the characters were flat and so lacked development, especially Mariko. To be honest I didn’t really care about any of the characters. I guess I should also mention the romance… oh why did there have to be a romance? I don’t understand why it seems in every fantasy YA book there has to be a romance. This one was entirely predictable and comes out of nowhere, in the sense that it happens very quickly. They literally know each other for maybe a few days and they’ve fallen for each other – commence eye rolling. I wouldn’t have minded it so much had they actually spent time getting to know each other and it had developed slowly. At least there’s no love triangle in this book. The final thing I’m going to mention is what I see as a lack of research in some places. Now I am by no mean an expert in Japanese culture and history, in fact I know very little but I felt that there were possibly a few things missing (e.g. names, manners, hierarchy etc.) and perhaps that this wasn’t particularly well researched. I may be wrong on that though – I don’t know the research she did.

 

Overall this definitely had potential to be a good book, but for me it really didn’t work. Don’t let me dissuade you too much though as I’ve seen a lot of great reviews over on goodreads. Maybe YA just isn’t working for me at the moment as I haven’t had much luck with it recently. I think I’ll stick to my adult fantasy for a while. Anyway have you guys read this book? What do you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa