Tombland / C. J. Sansom

Title / Tombland
Author / C. J. Sansom
Publication Date / October 2018
Series or standalone / Shardlake series
Page no. / 865
Overall Rating / ★★★★.5


The seventh book in the Shardlake series, this sequel is set two years after the death of King Henry VIII and focuses on the Kett Rebellion of 1549. Matthew Shardlake is called upon by the Lady Elizabeth to investigate the murder of the wife of a distant relative in Norwich.

 

I have loved all of the previous books so I had high hopes for this instalment and it did not disappoint. Once again Sansom weaves all the threads of the story together so well. I love that we go through the investigation with Shardlake and we can make judgements along the way with him. As with all the previous books in this series, the progression of the mystery is so well done. It was a little slow to start for me but after a couple of chapters I was completely invested. One thing that may frustrate some readers is that once the rebellion started, it felt as if the book lost a little of it’s purpose. It didn’t know whether it was a account of the Kett rebellion or a murder mystery. The focus shifts from the murder to focus on the rebellion and I have to admit that I was initially a little disappointed because I was so invested in the mystery. Having said that, I did find it really interesting to read about this rebellion as I know very little about it and I did really enjoy the plot of this book, although it is perhaps a little drawn out. Like the previous books in this series, I found this instalment so compelling and once I started reading I didn’t want to put it down. 

 

The character development continues to be a highlight of this series. Shardlake is a fantastic protagonist and it was  I particularly loved the growth of Nicholas in this latest instalment. Sansom has also done a great job at developing the relationships between the characters. There were so many interesting new characters introduced in this book and all of them were well written. Moving on to the setting. Once again Sansom has done a great job at transporting the reader back to the 16th Century. Although I know very little about this rebellion, you can still see the research Sansom has done for this book. I cannot comment on the authenticity of the historical story line, but it is vividly written and so interesting to read. As with all the previous books, the writing is fantastic. 
 

 

Overall I loved this book and I would highly recommend checking this series out. All the books in this series, including this latest one, are so enjoyable to read. I think Sansom plans to bring Shardlake into the reign of Elizabeth I, so there may be more books in the future. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for new books in this series. Have you read this book? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

Pippa

The Faithful and the Fallen series / John Gwynne

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

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

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

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

Pippa

Li Du series / Elsa Hart

Title / Jade Dragon Mountain and The White Mirror
Author / Elsa Hart
Publication Date / 2015 and 2016
Genre / Mystery/Historical fiction
Series or standalone / Trilogy
Page no. / 368 and 320
Star Rating / ★★★.5

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This is a mystery, historical fiction trilogy set in 18th century China. It follows Li Du, who was once a imperial librarian but is now in exile, as he unfolds the mysteries set in front of him. In book 1 he must unravel the facts behind the recent murder of an astronomer. As this is a series review, I will not go into details of the plot of either books.

 

The first thing that drew me to these books was the setting and I am happy to report that it didn’t disappoint. Hart has done a fantastic job at creating a vivid look into 18th century China. Now I don’t know a whole lot about this time period so I can’t comment on authenticity, but I will say that I was immersed in this world. It was such an interesting backdrop to each of the stories and it seems like Hart has spent quite a lot of time writing it. I loved that we got to explore more of the world in the sequel. Although I have not read the third book, I do know that Li Du has to return to Beijing, so I’m looking forward to seeing that setting. The writing is good in both books and I found it easy to settle into the flow of the story. Each book was quite a quick read for me because once I started reading I didn’t want to put the book down.

 

In terms of the plot, each of these books was compelling. The pacing is quite slow at times, but I think it was well suited to the story. The focus is more on collecting all of the facts and trying to figure it all out, rather than making this an action packed read. While I enjoyed both of these books, I personally liked the story of the second book a little bit more. For whatever reason I found it to be slightly more engaging. I also think that the second book felt more assured. Hart seems to have really settled into the flow of writing these stories and characters. Speaking of the characters, this trilogy contains a great cast of characters. Li Du is a fantastic protagonist and I’ve enjoyed his development through these two books. The other characters are also well written, if a little lacking at times. Overall though I really liked the cast of characters in both books and look forward to seeing how they progress in the third book. The ‘villains’ could perhaps be a little more fleshed out, but it’s only a minor complaint.

 

Overall this are enjoyable reads with a fantastic setting and interesting characters. The story continues in City of Ink which was released in August 2018. I will definitely be checking it out at some point in the near future. Have you read these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

Shadow of the Fox / Julie Kagawa

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

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

Old Man’s War / John Scalzi

Title / Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe’s Tale, The Human Division and The End of All Things
Author / John Scalzi
Publication Date / 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013 and 2015
Genre / Science Fiction
Series or standalone / 6 book series
Page no. / 351, 347, 324, 336, 493 and 388
Star Rating / ★★★

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This is a science fiction series that contains 6 books. The books are all set in the same world but they switch character perspectives. The first and third book follow the same characters and the fourth book is the same story from book 3 but written from a different character perspective. The other 3 books are again from different character perspectives. The fifth and sixth books are in a serialised format. In book 1 we are introduced to a world where old people can join the Colonial Defence Forces, whose job is to protect human interplanetary colonists. We follow John Perry, a 75 year old man, as he leaves Earth to join this force. The minds of the old people who join this force are transferred to an enhanced body. They can then be deployed to protect humanity. I love the premise of this book and the author does a fantastic job at building on this world throughout the six books. When I first read this series, I hadn’t read much sci-fi at all but these books made me want to read more from this genre. The world is wonderfully written and I love how Scalzi continues to build on what we know of the world in each new book. There is a lot of detail put into this large world and you can see the time and effort put into it. I’m not going to say much more, because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. Just know that the world is one of my favourite things about these books.

 

There is a fantastic cast of characters within this series. Although I love the characters, I have to admit that some do feel a little similar to each other. The voices of the characters can sometimes be a little indistinct. This is only a minor complaint though as it didn’t really affect my overall reading experience. For the most part all of the characters are well written. For anyone interested, John and Jane are two of my favourite characters.  I also really enjoy the development of relationships throughout these six books. There are switches in character perspectives but there are multiple characters we see pop up throughout the series. I really enjoy the humour of these books and there is some great dialogue between characters. Moving on, each book is as enjoyable as the last. All of the books are compelling and are just so much fun to read. There are also some fantastic action scenes within this series. There are military elements in most of these books, which I really enjoyed as it’s done really well.  The plot in each book is well constructed and it keeps you invested in the story throughout. Once I’d started each book I didn’t want to put them down. Basically these books are quick, action-packed reads. I’ve reread these books and there just as good the second time around. I personally feel that the later books are the weakest, maybe because I wasn’t expecting the serialised format, but I still really enjoyed them.

 

Overall this is a fantastic science fiction series. I would personally say that the first and the third book are my favourite, because I love the main characters, John and Jane. Having said that, I really enjoyed all of the books and I would highly recommend checking this series out, especially if you are a big fan of sci-fi books. I also think this series would make a fantastic TV show or film, if done right. Have you read these books? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

September Wrap Up and October TBR

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s the end of the month, which means its time for another monthly wrap up post. You guys probably know the drill by now – each month a write mini reviews of the books I’ve read and then I share some books I plan to read. I had an alright month in September, although I didn’t get as much reading done as I could have because I was playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider instead. Also I’m sorry for the lighting in the pictures – I use natural lighting and sometimes it’s not as good as I would want. Anyway, let’s get started with the wrap up.

 

 

Bridge of Birds / Barry Hughart / ★★★
Set in medieval China, this follows Number Ten Ox and Master Li as they go on a quest to save a village from a plague. While I did really enjoy this book, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing style. I can’t really put my finger on why but something just didn’t quite work for me. The characters are really well written though and the plot is compelling throughout. I thought the world building was good too. If you’re looking for an East-Asian inspired fantasy book, or just for something a little bit different to typical fantasy books, then I highly recommend checking this book out.

 

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Legend / book 1 of the Drenai series / David Gemmell / ★★
The basic premise of this is a legendary warrior coming out of retirement to help defend against an incoming, conquering army. I really enjoyed the setting of this and thought that the characters were well written. My one issue with characters was the representation of women; this was first published in the 80’s and it is dated in how it portrays women. They are very much secondary characters and although they have some depth to them, I wanted more. I also wasn’t a fan of the speed at which two characters fall in love – it’s basically insta-love. Other than that, I had no issues with this book. I really enjoyed it and would recommend checking it out.

 

The Angel’s Game / book 2 of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books / Carlos Ruiz Zafon / ★★★.5
This is the sequel to The Shadow of the Wind. Although I did enjoy this book, I definitely didn’t love it as much as the first book. Once again the writing is great and it was easy to settle back into the writing style. The characters are well written and the plot is compelling. Overall this was a good book and I look forward to continuing on with this series.

 

The White Mirror / book 2 of the Li Du trilogy / Elsa Hart / ★★.5
This is the sequel to Jade Dragon Mountain. I really enjoyed the first book so I had high hopes for this book and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, I think I enjoyed this story more than the first one. The characters are well written, the plot is compelling and I love the setting of 18th century China. The atmosphere is really well done. Basically this was an enjoyable mystery book and I will definitely be checking out the next book in this trilogy.

 

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Soulbinder / book 4 of the Spellslinger series / Sebastien de Castell / ★★
Another fantastic instalment to this series. I am planning to have a full review of this book up next week, so I’m not going to go into to much detail now. All I’ll say is that this is such a entertaining series and I highly recommend checking it out. The next book in the series, Queenslayer, is set to be released on the 2nd May 2019.

 

Blood of the Gods / book 2 of the Ascension Cycle / David Mealing / ★★
This was a fantastic continuation of this trilogy. I loved the first book so I had high hopes for this sequel and it didn’t disappoint. Mealing did a great job at building on what we know from book 1 and it was great to be back in this world. The character development was really well done and I loved the direction of the plot. I will be writing a full review of this so keep an eye out for that. I highly recommend checking this series out.

 

Circe / Madeleine Miller / ★★
I thought this book was fantastic. Personally, I enjoyed this book more than her previous one, The Song of Achilles. I loved how Miller brought life to Circe. All of the characters were well written and I loved how Circe is neither good or bad; she’s a mix of both.  I find Greek mythology really interesting, so I loved the setting of this book. The writing is great and I found it so easy to settle into the story. If you enjoyed Miller’s other book, then you will definitely love this book too. If you haven’t pick this book up yet I highly recommend you do.

 

Valour / book 2 of the Faithful and the Fallen series / John Gwynne / ★★
This book was so good. I’ve been aware of this series for quite some time and I can’t believe to took me this long to read it. I loved the direction of the plot and was engrossed in the story from very early on. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but there is a character list that you can refer back to which is helpful. As with the first book this sequel switches between multiple perspective; each of which is distinctive. I cannot say enough good things about the first two books in this series. I have the last two books on my shelves waiting to be read. I highly recommend checking this series out.

 

That’s it for today. I’m not going to set myself a TBR for October, although I do have a vague idea of some books I want to get to. Obviously I’d like to continue reading the Faithful and the Fallen series by reading the third book, Ruin. Other books high up on my TBR include Lamentation by C. J. Sansom and A Veil of Spears by Bradley Beaulieu. I’m currently reading Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara. There are quite a few other books that I could pick up instead though. What was your favourite book from the past month? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

 

Pippa