January Wrap Up and February TBR

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s time for my first wrap up of the year. I read 7 books this month, one of which is my first 5 star read of the year. I started this year off with some fantastic books. I can’t believe that in a few weeks I will have been blogging for two years. It’s gone by pretty fast. Anyway let’s get started with my mini reviews.

 

Spiderlight / Adrian Tchaikovsky / ★★★
Although I kind of got the feeling that this started off in the middle of a story, I thought this was a great book. The story starts off very quickly and I almost felt that it was missing part of the story, but after the first chapter I had settled into the flow of the plot. This is a classic fantasy quest story, where the characters are given a task and we follow them as the complete said task. The characters were well written, the plot was engaging and the writing was easy to get into, although the dialogue can be a little clunky. Overall a good book that was a quick and entertaining read.

 

Dune: Messiah / Frank Herbert / ★★★
I definitely didn’t love this as much as the first book, Dune, but it was still a good book. I enjoyed being back in this world. As with Dune this book was a little dated but I found it easy to get into the flow of the story and the plot was engaging. This sequel just didn’t captivate me like the first book did. Overall I’m glad I read it and I thought it was a good book, but I didn’t love it as much as Dune.

 

Black Wolves / Kate Elliott / book 1 of Black Wolves series / ★★★
This one was a bit mixed for me. There were some things that I really enjoyed and other things that just didn’t work for me. Firstly, I think the setting was great and I really like the idea of the reeves. The politics and intrigue throughout the book was good. There are some really interesting characters in this book, although keeping track of all the characters was initially a bit confusing. The time jump at the beginning of the book threw me a little but after a few chapters I adjusted to it. Another issue I had was that I felt that it was too long. There were a few scenes that seemed unnecessary and it bogged down the narrative. It sometimes felt like there was too much going on and it needed some focus. The pacing was a little uneven at times too. It took me quite some time to get invested in this book; it wasn’t until over 200 pages in that I felt that I had finally started to get into it. Overall this was a good introduction to this series but I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. At the moment I am planning to continue with this series.

 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / Stieg Larsson / book 1 in the Millennium trilogy / ★★★★
I’ve been to start this series for a while now and I finally decided to pick it up this month. I thought it was fantastic. It is definitely quite a dark and disturbing book but the plot is so compelling and the atmosphere of suspense is so well done. The characters are wonderfully complex and flawed, and although this author is new to me I found it easy to get into the flow of the writing. The mystery elements were also really well done and I was constantly wondering how it was going to unfold. As I’ve said, I thought this was a fantastic book and I will definitely be continuing on with this trilogy.

 

Pachinko / Min Jin Lee / ★★★★
Not only did I find this to be a fantastic book, but it was also very interesting. I don’t know a lot about the history of this area of the world so it was fascinating to me to read about it. Although I can sometimes find shifts in time a little jarring, I didn’t really have that issue with this book. It may be something to be aware of though, as most chapters will move forward at least a couple of years. The characters are all very well written, but the wide span of years means that you never really feel fully attached to any of them. Personally I didn’t mind this, because I thought the backdrop was so interesting and the characters are all still complex and flawed. I thought the writing was great and I found it so easy to become immersed in the story. Overall I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend checking this book out, especially if you enjoy historical fiction.

 

The Bitter Twins / Jen Williams / book 2 of the Winnowing Flame trilogy / ★★★★
This is one of my most anticipated book releases of this year and I am happy to say it does not disappoint. I thought this was a fantastic sequel and it was great to be back in this world. I probably should have reread the first book before reading this as I was a little foggy on the details, but after a couple of chapters I was fully immersed in the world again. As with the first book, the writing is great, the story is compelling and the characters are well written. I will have a full review closer to the release date so keep an eye out for that.

 

Under Heaven / Guy Gavriel Kay / ★★★★★
I’ve had my eye on this book for a while now and I am so happy that I finally picked this up. As you can see from the rating this is my first five star book of the year. I thought it was fantastic. The plot is compelling, the writing is great and the world building is so well done. From the very beginning I was immersed in the characters and the world. The politics and intrigue in this book are fantastic. I personally love fantasy with intrigue and it is one of the strengths of this book. You never really know where peoples loyalties lie and so you are constantly wondering what each character will do next. Basically I absolutely loved this book and I would highly recommend checking it out. I will definitely be reading more by this author. I am planning to write a full review of this one too.

 

I’ve not really thought about what I want to read next so I don’t have a set TBR for February. I’m just going to read what I feel like at the time. I am currently reading Sovereign by C. J. Sansom, which is the third book in the Cromwell series. My favourite book of the month was definitely Under Heaven. What was the best book you read in January? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

September Wrap Up and October TBR

Hi guys it’s time to wrap up another month of reading. I thought I hadn’t read much this month but it turns out I still managed to read 5 books so I’m pretty happy with that. At one point I thought it was only going to be two books. Anyway I’ve read some great books this month – none of the books are rated under 3 stars. I’ve just not had a huge amount of motivation to read so I’m super happy with the 5 books I’ve read. Let’s get started with my mini reviews.

 

Queen of Fire / Raven Shadow trilogy – book 3 / Anthony Ryan / 
This was a good conclusion to this trilogy, but I have to admit that the second and third book were a little disappointing when compared with the first book. This one was definitely an improvement from the second book though. Although overall I thought this was a compelling read, there were definitely times it dragged. I think the trilogy as a whole could probably have been shortened a bit. It was great to be back with these characters though. Overall I enjoyed this trilogy but for me the first book was the strongest. I can’t say for sure why the other books weren’t quite as compelling. I would still recommend checking these books out.

 

 

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Spellslinger / Spellslinger series – book 1 / Sebastien de Castell / ★.5
I thought this was a great introduction to this series. I definitely didn’t love it quite as much as the first book in his other series but it was still really good. The world of this book is an interesting and it’s well thought out too, as is the magic system. It’s also quite funny at times. The characters are fleshed out, the plot is compelling and the writing is easy to get into. I will definitely be checking out the second book in this series.

 

Blood of Dragons / Robin Hobb / 
It’s a Robin Hobb book so of course this was great. I thought this was such a good conclusion to this series and I think that each character thread was really well done. I was completely invested in the characters and we get to learn even more about the world too. Basically these are fantastic books and I highly recommend checking them out. I would say that this is probably the weakest of the Realm of the Elderling series so far but it is still great.

 

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Artemis / Andy Weir / 
*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
While I enjoyed Weir’s other book, I definitely didn’t love it quite as much as everyone else seemed to so I was interested to see he was releasing a new book. I thought this was such a great read.  This book is set to be released November 14th and I will have more to say closer to that release date.

 

Tess of the D’Ubervilles / Thomas Hardy / 
This was my classic pick of the month and it was pretty heartbreaking. As with the two other Hardy books I’ve read this was very well written and does a great job of transporting you into the landscape. It is also quite interesting as it really showcases the place women had in society at that time and the rigid morals applied to them. In that sense it is quite a frustrating read because we can’t understand why Tess does certain things but it was a very different time back then. It is a pretty depressing story, which will definitely not be to everyone’s tastes. This isn’t really a book you enjoy as it is a tragic tale but I think it is worth a read nonetheless.

 

I am also almost finished with The Loving Cup by Winston Graham, which is the 10th book in the Poldark series. In terms of my October TBR I’ve set myself a few books that I hope to get to. My classic pick for October is 1984 by George Orwell but I would also quite like to get to The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. The other books I would like to get to are Mistress of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts, The Power by Naomi Alderman, the Good People by Hannah Kent, Sovereign by C. J. Sansom and maybe The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. I probably won’t get to all of those but I’m hoping it will happen anyway :). What was your favourite book this month? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

Mini Reviews: 3 classics

Good morning. Today as the title suggests I have 3 mini reviews of some classics. I am trying to read more classics this year so I thought I would share some classics love with these reviews.  I’m doing pretty well so far this year – I have been reading a classic a month. I have really been enjoying classics so I thought I’d share some of my thought of them with you. Onto the reviews :).

 

 

Far From the Madding Crowd / Thomas Hardy ★
First published in 1874, this follows Bathsheba Everdeen who inherits a large farm and attracts the attention of three different men. I read this last year and was my first experience of Thomas Hardy – it won’t be my last. The descriptive writing style creates an amazing rural backdrop to the events of the book, but I didn’t find it overly descriptive. Hardy crafts complex and flawed characters that are a pleasure to read about, although I did question Bathsheba decisions at some points during the book. However it is also very interesting, as her position in society as a woman is precarious, especially since she has some power. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will definitely be checking out more by Thomas Hardy in the future.

 

Cranford / Elizabeth Gaskell ★
This is a short book which is more a series of episodes, than a linear narrative, although there are plot points that run throughout the book. For this reason I think it would be a great place to start if you are new to Gaskell, or classics in general. Although I didn’t realise that going in so it took me a little while to get into the flow of the story, but I ended up really enjoying the meandering plot (realistically it doesn’t have much of a plot) and underlying themes. What really makes this book are the characters –  as I mentioned there is not much of a plot, but the character studies within the book are a pleasure to read. So if you like very character driven stories with meandering plot than I highly recommend this book, whether you’ve read Gaskell before or not.

 

The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald 
Really more of a 2.5 star rating to be honest. To me this is a very overhyped book. I just didn’t really get it – I found it to be really quite underwhelming. The characters were all abit flat to me, as well as being generally unlikable (mainly Nick) and I didn’t particularly care about them. Even though it is a short book I still had to push myself to get through it. There is nothing particularly bad about this book, I was just very underwhelmed and it was kind of dull. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t deny that Fitzgerald is a great writer, but other than that this book fell flat for me.  I didn’t care about the romance or Gatsby or any of the characters really and Daisy is an extremely frustrating representation of a woman – I swear at one point she sobs at some shirts. To me the characters felt shallow, flat and meaningless. I really don’t see why this is so loved, but that is just personal preference. I would still recommend giving it a read though, as I am in the minority. I do love this edition though.

 

Let me know what your thoughts were on any of these books and I am always open to classics recommendation. I hope you are all having a great day.

 

See you next time

 

Pippa

 

May Wrap Up 2016

Good morning, as it is the end of the month it is time for my wrap up. I had a very productive month of reading which I am really happy with. I read a total of 18 books, 7 of which I read during a read-a-thon. This month was the Bout of Books 16 read-a-thon which I participated in and read those 7 books during that week. I did a separate wrap up for that – check it out here. It was really great taking part in my first read-a-thon and I will definitely be interested in participating in more. Overall I had a really good reading month: I even managed to finish one of my reading resolutions by finishing the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis and I ended up reading more books than I anticipated. Anyway, onto the wrap up.

 

 

Ruined / Amy Tintera 
I got this book in the May Fairy Loot box. This book is nothing new – the story feels very familiar and very predictable. Once the romance is introduced, it is pretty much the only thing driving the plot and I am not a big romance reader so it kind of dragged for me. The characters and the world are underdeveloped and so not particularly gripping – they both lack depth. It would have been interesting to know more about the world and the politics but unfortunately it was quite lacking in that department. Overall just an OK book in my opinion. I won’t be continuing on with the series. It kind of makes me think I need to take a bit of a break from YA maybe.

 

Mage’s Blood / David Hair  
This one is a bit of a weird one for me… it took me a little while to get into – it wasn’t until around 100 pages that I began to feel engaged, and then that went away… It would then drag for a bit and then I’d get engaged again… You get the idea. It just felt uneven throughout – which is kind of disappointing because it had a lot of potential. The characters lacked depth and there was little to no development through 600 pages. I also question the motives of a certain character at the end of the book – a certain relationship suddenly changes and it just seemed so easy as well as unrealistic. The pacing was sometimes abit uneven as well. Despite these things, there is nothing really wrong with this book, but I just could not get into it. I have concluded that this series is just not for me.

 

The Horse and His Boy / C. S. Lewis  
More like a 2.5/3 stars. This was an entertaining story – I fully realise how problematic they are in terms of their treatment of people for example race, women etc. However I am trying to put that aside and just enjoy the story. I will say that this is not my favourite book so far.

 

 

A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet / Becky Chambers ★★
For the most part I enjoyed this book but it didn’t blow me away. I thought it was an interesting read and a refreshing change to the other science fiction books I’ve read. It is a slow, character driven story so if you are looking for a fast paced, action packed sci-fi book, this is not the book for you. However if you want a slow, meandering book with interesting commentary on life/existence and well developed characters from different cultures than you should definitely check this out. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t blown away by it – I can’t put my finger on any particularly reason though.

 

The Wolf Wilder / Katherine Rundell ★.5
I really enjoyed this book, and although it did have flaws I flew through it. It was a entertaining story with great interactions between the characters and a great setting. I love the concept of a wolf wilder – wolves are one of my favourite animals and I came very close to tearing up which is rare for me (apart from when animals are involved). The pacing was a bit off for me: the beginning was quite fast paced, the middle dragged a little for me and then it ends quite quickly. I also question the fact that they ride wolves but artistic license, I guess. I think if you go into this for a fun, entertaining children’s book set in Russia then you will enjoy it. I would recommend it and I absolutely love the illustrations!

 

The End of All Things / John Scalzi ★.5
This is the sixth book in the Old Man’s War series and I read it on my kindle. This was another great addition to this series and the structure of it worked very well. It is divided into four novellas, each focusing on a different perspective of the different areas of conflict. However I will say that it wasn’t my favourite, but it was a good conclusion to the issues from both this book and the previous book as well. I think I just kind of miss John and Jane. I highly recommend checking out this series though.

 

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray / Oscar Wilde  ★★
3.5/4 stars. This was actually a really interesting book into some of the darker elements of human nature – of sin, morality, vanity, the search to stay youthful and how susceptible young people can be. This was my first experience of Oscar Wilde and I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised. I don’t know why but I had gone into this with a little trepidation – I thought that it wouldn’t be my thing but I actually quite enjoyed it. I found the book quite accessible (in terms of language and content) and although perhaps a little slow, especially at the beginning, it was engaging throughout.

 

The Return of the King / J. R. R. Tolkien ★★
3.5/4 stars. This is obviously the third and final book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I really enjoyed this conclusion, however it is a very dense and sometimes quite slow book. It is the type of book (and trilogy) that you can reread multiple times and learn something new with each read – there is just so much detail. Although I really appreciated that detail because it creates an amazing world as well as characters, I also found that it made the story drag a little for me. However I am very happy I have finally finished this trilogy and I would definitely recommend it.

 

Green Rider / Kristen Britain  ★★
This is the first book in a fantasy series. It follows Karigan, who is suspended from her school and runs away to her home. On the way she encounters a dying Green Rider, messengers for the King, and agrees to deliver the message, despite the apparent danger. Stuff then happens. I thought this was a solid first book in a series and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The plot is engaging throughout – it is fast-paced and enjoyable to read. The characters are well written and interesting (I am intrigued by the Berry sisters) and although I did get frustrated with Karigan (mainly her constant denial), overall she is a great strong female character. I absolutely love the Horse. Definitely recommend, especially if you are a fan of fantasy. I really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to continuing the series.

 

Nothing to Envy: Real lives in North Korea / Barbara Demick 
I picked this up after reading In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park because I wanted to know more about North Korea – it is really astonishing to learn about this regime and I highly recommend reading both. It is an incredible book – we meet 6 North Koreans who eventually defect to South Korea. It is very interesting, but also incredibly accessible – you don’t need to have prior knowledge of North Korea before reading this and it is written in a way that is easy to follow but also keeps you engaged. I think it is so important to be aware of the world and what is going on in it, so this was a real eye opener for me because I knew very little about North Korea prior to these two books. Once again I highly recommend both books.

 

Quick edit – I also finished The Oakleaf Bearer by John Flanagan which is book 4 in the Rangers Apprentice series. I gave it 4 stars on goodreads – it was another great instalment to the series.
In terms of my June TBR I am keeping it simple. I am only setting myself two books that I definitely want to read by the end of the month. Firstly The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I am buddy reading this with Shannon from ShannonRoseReads on Youtube. You should definitely check her out  – you can also find her on Twitter. We had both been debating whether to read this series for a while so we decided to read the first book together. The other book is my classic pick of the month and that is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – this book is huge so wish me luck :). I am currently reading it and have only made a small dent in it. I’ve also included some books that I want to get to soon so some of those may turn up in my next wrap up.
Hope you had a great reading month. Let me know in the comments what your favourite book was this month and what you plan to get to in June. Hope you have a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa