T5W: Favourite Underrated Books

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 a freebie week, so I choose to talk about my favourite underrated books. All of these books have under 1,000 ratings on Goodreads but they deserve way more. I really enjoyed all of these books and would highly recommend checking them out. Let’s get started.

 

 

That’s it for today. These are five fantastic books that I’ve read this year and think that they deserve more love. Have you read any of these books? What are some of your favourite underrated books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

Favourite Video Games

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Today I have something a little bit different for you guys. Other than reading, I also really enjoy playing video games so I thought I’d share some of my favourites. Most of the games mentioned will have been played on the PlayStation, but there will also be a few Nintendo and computer games. Let’s get started.

 

  • Horizon: Zero Dawn – PlayStation
  • Okami – PlayStation
  • Assassins Creed – favourites: Origins and Syndicate – PlayStation
  • Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider – PlayStation
  • Uncharted 4 – PlayStation
  • Witcher 3 – PlayStation
  • Age of Empire – computer
  • Pokemon games – favourite: Soul Silver – Nintendo
  • Zelda games – favourites: Ocarina of Time – Nintendo

 

That’s all for today. I never used to play video games a lot when I was younger but I have started to play them more over the last few years. I am very excited for the release of the new Tomb Raider game, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and the sequel to the Last of Us. What are your favourite video games? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Current Favourites

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. So we’re over halfway through the year and I wanted to share some new favourite things with you guys. Obviously I’m not including books in this post as I talked about them all the time here on this blog and I’ve already posted about my favourite books so far this year anyway :). Instead I’ll be talking about music, TV etc. Let’s get started.

 

Music:

 

TV/Netflix + Films:
  • The Good Place – bit late to this but it’s so good. Cannot wait for series 3.
  • Season 2 of Queereye – these five guys are amazing.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine  – so happy it got picked up for a new series.
  • Marvel films – Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: IW.
  • Annihilation – quite different from the book in some ways but still really good.

 

Games:
  • Okami HD PS4 – this game is awesome and I would love to see more games like it.
  • Horizon: Frozen Wilds DLC – such a good addition to the original game. I hope they will make another game in this world.
  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery – that whole energy thing and repetitive class bit is annoying but this game is kind of addictive. I’m currently in year 4.

 

Other:
  • Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Concealer

 

That’s it for today. I’m sure I will be adding to this list by the end of the year :). What are some of your favourites you’ve found this year? I’d love to know. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

The Beast Player / Nahoko Uehashi

Title / The Beast Player
Author / Nahoko Uehashi
Publication Date / 2018
Series or standalone / book 1 of 4
Page no. / 508
Overall Rating / 

 

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Originally written in Japanese and published in 2006, this edition is translated by Cathy Hirano. At the heart of this book is a coming of age story but there is so much more to it then that. Set in a fictional fantasy world, the story starts when a young Elin’s life is thrown into disarray when her mother is sentenced to death.

 

I have to admit that the cover drew me to this book first. I am very glad it did because this book was fantastic. From the very beginning I was hooked. Once I started reading I didn’t want to put the book down and once I’d finished I just wanted more from these characters and world. Since I haven’t (and can’t) read the original Japanese editions I can’t comment on the how good the translation is, but I will say that I thought the writing was fantastic. It immerses you in this world and characters from the very beginning. At just over 500 pages this is quite a lengthy book but even in the slower moments the writing and characters mean this is a compelling read throughout. The overall pacing of this book is quite slow as it does focus more on the characters and their relationships (especially Elin’s and Leelan). There isn’t a lot of action, until towards the end of the book, so if you’re looking for a fast paced, action packed fantasy then this isn’t it, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t try out this book. I would say the first half of the book is slower then the second half. Although it does have a slower pacing and a rather meandering plot line, I personally found this to be a very compelling read.

 

One of the main strengths of this book and the characters and their arcs. When we start the book, Elin is roughly 10 years old but by the end of the book she is in her twenties. I loved that we got to see this development of the main character. Yes, there are skips in time, which I find can sometimes distance you from the character, but that is not the case with this book. She is a wonderful female protagonist and I think a lot of people will love. It was such a pleasure to see her develop from a young child to a young woman. Despite the fact we mainly follow Elin, we do get some other perspectives throughout the book. The other characters are just as well written as Elin, which is quite impressive when you think about the size of the cast. There are quite a lot of characters, but there is a character list provided if you need a little help keeping track of them all. The author did a fantastic job at developing the relationships between characters too, especially between Elin and Leelan. Another strength of this book was the lack of romance. I feel sometimes authors write in romance because they feel it has to be a part of a book, so I loved that the main character doesn’t have a love interest. It would have felt so unnecessary to the story and it was so refreshing to not have it included.

 

The world is another strength of this book. The author did a fantastic job of creating this world and slowly revealing things to the reader as the story progresses. I loved that although we focus very much on the world around Elin, we also get a wider look into the world as a whole and the cultures are all so interesting to read about. The author has a PH.D. in cultural anthropology and I think this shows in her writing. There is such depth and clarity to her world building, which makes it so enjoyable to read. The only thing I would say is that it is a shame there isn’t a map of the world included within the book.

 

Overall, I adored this book. It has gone straight onto my favourites list and I cannot say enough good things about it. From what I understand this is part of a series and there are about 4 books out in Japanese, but only one has been translated so far. I am unsure whether this translated edition is the first Japanese book or whether it’s a combination of some or all of the already released 4 books in Japanese, if that makes sense. There is another series by this author that has been translated, which I fully plan on checking out. If you are looking for a new fantasy book to read, then I highly recommend checking this one out. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

Best Books of 2018 So Far

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. We’re roughly half way through the year so I thought I’d share the best books I’ve read in the last six months. Since I’m writing this a few weeks before posting, I can’t tell you exactly how many books I’ve read so far but at the point of writing this I’ve read 33 book, which means I’m behind on my Goodreads reading challenge. I have eight books to share with you guys so let’s get started.
  • Under Heaven / Guy Gavriel Kay / ★★★★★ / 
  • The Beast Player / Nahoko Uehashi / ★★★★★
  • Revelations / book 4 of the Shardlake series / C. J. Sansom / ★★★★★
  • Wrath of Empire / book 2 of the God of Blood and Powder trilogy / Brian McClellan / ★★★★★
Honourable mentions: The Dragon Queen by William Andrews, Heartstone by C. J. Sansom, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay and The Wolf by Leo Carew.
I’m having a pretty good reading year so far and found a couple new all time favourite books. Hopefully the second half of the year will be good in terms of reading too. What are your favourite books you’ve read so far this year? Have you read any of the books I mentioned. I hope you are having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa

Children of Time / Adrian Tchaikovsky

Title / Children of Time
Author / Adrian Tchaikovsky
Publication Date / 2015
Genre / Science fiction
Series or standalone / standalone
Page no. / 600
Star Rating / ★★★★
Goodreads synopsis: The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age—a world terraformed and prepared for human life. But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare. Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

 

 This is a fantastic sci-fi book with a unique premise and compelling plot. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the book  because I think this is one of those books that you should read knowing little about it. I only had a vague look at the blurb when I decided to pick this up. I’ve never read anything quite like this and I loved it. First of all, the writing is fantastic and I thought the two perspective used in the narration was so good. Basically as you can see from the blurb, we have the human perspective but we also have the perspective of the other civilisations on the terraformed world. I’m not going to say anything more about the other civilisation because it can be seen as a bit of a spoiler. Just known that these ‘other’s are incredibly well written. The use of both of these perspectives creates such an interesting and engaging story, because we get to see both sides of the story/conflict, whereas normally when there are ‘aliens’ involved we only get to see the human side of it. The plot itself is incredible. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it but I was blown away. The timeline spans thousands of years and it was fascinating to see how things changed for each civilisation.  You can clearly tell that the author has done his research because there is so much depth and detail to this world and characters. I loved learning about this world and the culture of the other civilisation. There is a wide range of characters that are all wonderfully well written too.

 

This book is epic in scale and I’m impressed with Tchaikovsky for managing to tell this story without us being bogged down or being sidetracked from the main story. Do not be intimidated by the size and scope of this book. At 600 pages it is a long book but it is well worth the effort and time commitment.  I have to admit that I was a little intimidated at first as someone who doesn’t read a lot of sci-fi but there was no need to be. There are many good things to say about this book, from the innovative story to the fantastic world building to the writing that will have you gripped from early on. If you are looking for a fast-paced, action-packed sci-fi book then this probably isn’t for you, however if you are a big sci-fi fan then I think this is well worth checking out.

 

Overall I loved this book. If you are looking for a new sci-fi book to read then I highly recommend checking this book out, especially if you want one that handles the whole alien thing a little differently. Have you read this book? Or have you read anything else by this author? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Under Heaven / Guy Gavriel Kay

Title / Under Heaven
Author / Guy Gavriel Kay
Publication Date / 2010 (first published)
Series or standalone / book 1 of Under Heaven duology
Overall Star Rating / 

 

 

Under Heaven is set in a fictionalized version of the Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China and contains a masterful story of family, intrigue and power. It is a historical fantasy and it is the first book in the Under Heaven companion duology; the second book is River of Stars which is set in a world inspired by the Song dynasty.

 

The world is not something to be understood. It is vanity, illusion to even try.” – Li-Mei

 

This was my first book by this author and it will definitely not be my last. Simply put, this was a fantastic book. From the beginning I could tell that every word is so well placed and that the writing is very well thought out. It was a pleasure to read this book, because the writing is so good. It immerses you in this world and characters, and makes you want to read on. It is quite a long book at over 500 pages and at times the pacing makes it quite a slow read, but the writing and characters will keep you engaged throughout. Some may find that the slow but steady pacing results in the story dragging, however I had no issues with this. Even in the slower moments, the book was compelling for me. The first few chapters really hook you into the story and from then on it never loses momentum, even when the pacing is slow. The plot is compelling throughout and once I’d started reading I didn’t want to put this book down. Another strength of this book was the world building. Under Heaven takes place in Kitai, which as I’ve mentioned is an alternate version of the Tang Dynasty. From the very beginning of the book I was completely immersed in the world. It is clear that the author has done a lot of research on this period of history. Now I do not know a lot about Chinese history, so I cannot comment on authenticity, but I can say that this complex world is richly painted. Not only do we get a good understanding of the world as a whole, we also get to see some of the inner workings of court intrigue. The politics and intrigue are fantastic. I love political intrigue in fantasy and Kay has done it so well. Everything unfolds at just the right pacing, without rushing it, and it was a pleasure to watch to all unfold.

 

Although we mainly follow Shen Tai, there is a fantastic cast of characters that we meet in this book too. This is primarily a character driven story with compelling narratives for each character perspective. As I’ve mentioned Shen Tai’s perspective is used the most, but each perspective is as compelling as the last and the flow is never disrupted by a switch of perspectives. All of the characters are incredibly well written. There are so many characters that I loved in this book but one of my favourites would have to be Wei Song. She is such a strong and intriguing character and I would love to know more about her. There are many more characters I could talk about, including Li Mei, Sima Zian and Meshag, but then this review would be incredibly long. Just know that all of the characters in this book are all complex, flawed and wonderfully vivid. Even with a character you dislike, Kay manages to make you think twice about them and to see them in a more sympathetic light. The relationships between the characters are also well written. It was so interesting to see all the different relationships between the characters and how they developed throughout the book. The characters are definitely a massive strength of this book and I think I will pick up on new things about each character when I reread this book. Put simply, I adored this book and I want to recommend it to as many people as I can. Everything about this book is well thought out and I loved reading every second of it.

 

Overall, I loved this book and I cannot wait to read more from this author. This is a wonderful mix of historical fiction and fantasy that has resulted in a compelling and fascinating read. The characters are so well written, the plot is compelling, and the writing is fantastic. Kay has managed to weave these elements all together seamlessly to create a complex and layered book. This is the kind of book that you just don’t want it to end and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It has definitely moved into my favourites. I would highly recommend reading this book, especially if you enjoy a mix of historical fiction and fantasy, and/or enjoy character driven stories. However, if you want a quick, action-packed fantasy read then this probably isn’t the book for you. I will definitely be checking out the other book in this companion duology, River of Stars. Have you read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa