The Shadow Of What Was Lost / James Islington

Title / The Shadow Of What Was Lost 
Author / James Islington
Publication Date / 2016
Star Rating / ★★★.5
Goodreads synopsis: As a student of the Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war fought – and lost – before he was born. Despised by most beyond the school walls, he and those around him are all but prisoners as they attempt to learn control of the Gift. Worse, as Davian struggles with his lessons, he knows that there is further to fall if he cannot pass his final tests. But when Davian discovers he has the ability to wield the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything. To the north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir. And to the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is…
This is the first book in the Licanius trilogy and is the author’s debut book. I thought this was a solid introduction to this trilogy, although it wasn’t perfect. It took me a little while to get into it but after a couple of chapters I was invested in the story. The world is well crafted with an interesting magic system, although I did want more detail on certain things throughout the book. I wanted a bit more on the different cultures of this world specifically.  Overall though the world is rich in detail. There are two types of magic users in this world – Gifted, who are able to tap into the Essence, and Augurs, who were once viewed as almost Gods. There is a school for those who can tap into the Essence and if you fail to graduate from this school you become a Shadow, a second rate citizen. I really liked this world. It is clearly well thought out and has a lot of potential. I’m looking forward to seeing how it is expanded on in the future books. I will admit to the characters being a little generic, but they are still well written. You’ve probably seen similar characters in other fantasy books but Islington still manages to keep them compelling. The character development is also well done. However I think some of the minor characters were a little flat. This book does have quite a few characters to follow but they are all distinctive. If you are not normally a fan of multiple perspective, than it is perhaps something to be aware of. Personally I think it worked quite well this time and grants the reader a larger scale of the events of the book. I know it can sometimes be quite jarring to switch perspectives but that wasn’t the case this time. I would also say that this is quite a character driven fantasy, so that’s probably something to be aware of too. The pacing is a little uneven at times but the plot is generally compelling throughout. At it’s very core this is a coming of age story with quite a few twists and turns along the way. Intrigue plays a part as well, which I am a big fan of. There is a few instances of the plot dragging, especially during some of the travelling scenes. Overall it was kind of long winded. One thing I got a little frustrated with was that characters would be told to do something and told how important it is, but there is very little explanation as to why. They just kind of accept it and go. Maybe that was just me. Having said all that I think this book shows great potential and I definitely excited to see how things progress in the next two books. There was just something about this one that I didn’t love it but it’s still a good read.
Overall this was a good book and a solid introduction to this new world. It does have a lot of traditional fantasy elements/tropes but it is still an enjoyable story. Although it’s quite a hefty fantasy I think it was pretty accessible and so could be a good place to start if you are new to the fantasy genre. I will definitely be checking out the sequel, An Echo of Things to Come, when it comes out in paperback early next year – the hardback is out now. I would recommend checking this out, if you are interested by the synopsis. I also just want to mention how great the covers are – definitely some new favourites. Have you guys read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa

The Black Magicians trilogy / Trudi Canavan

Title / The Magicians’ Guild, The Novice and The High Lord
Author / Trudi Canavan
Publication Date / 2001, 2002 and 2002 (first published)
Overall Star Rating / 
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work-—until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders…and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.
What the Magicians’ Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.

 

“It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow streets because it is grieved by what it finds there.”

 

This is one of my all time favourite series so I thought it was about time that I did a series review on it. For me this will always be a fantastic trilogy. I am well aware that it has some flaws but they don’t detract anything for me. Basically this is quite a sentimental favourite. I didn’t have a great time during my teenage years and this is one of the series I would escape to. Anyway let’s get started with the actual review.  This is a three book fantasy series set in Kyralia. It is divided up by districts and the capital is Imardin. I would say that this is a fairly traditional fantasy setting, but that is not a bad thing as the world is an interesting one. If you are looking for unique settings though, than you won’t find that here, but if you enjoy fantasy school settings than you may want to check it out. Not only do you get a good grasp of the culture, politics and magic system of the world, but you also get a good idea of the landscape and terrain of the place as well. Everything is well thought out. Personally I think the world is one of the main strengths of this trilogy. The writing is good, although it is a little repetitive at times. These books are very easy to get into and can be quite quick reads. The first half of the first book is definitely quite slow in terms of pacing. It does drag but do bear with it as it does get better and the pacing even outs. Due to this I think the series as a whole could have been shorter overall. I personally think the plot is quite compelling though.

 

It does rely on the rather overused ‘special’ main character who is more powerful than other people. I think perhaps if I read it for the first time now I would have got a little frustrated with it but at the time it didn’t bother me at all. I think as a whole the characters are well written and you come to really care about them by the end of the trilogy. Sonea is one of my favourite characters, but the secondary characters are just as good – I seriously love Rothen so much. Yes they can probably be seen as quite cliched and stereotypical but I still think they are well written. Perhaps it’s something to be aware of though. The character development through the three books is great and I loved seeing how each of them progressed. I will admit they are quite simply drawn but you’ll still come to care for them. The relationships are good, although some do develop quite quickly. This one is actually quite a tricky one to review. As I’ve mentioned I am well aware of it’s flaws but I still love this trilogy so it’s tricky to come up with a balanced review, if that makes sense.

 

Overall this is a fantastic trilogy that I have reread a few times. I am well aware it isn’t perfect and has flaws but I still love it. Perhaps if I read it for the first time now as a more critical reader I would have a completely different reaction to it. I don’t know. This trilogy will always be one of my favourites as it helped me through a tricky time. I would definitely recommend checking this out, especially if you love the fantasy genre. Have you guys read this series? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

5 Reasons To Read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Hi guys, today I thought I would do another 5 reasons to read type review. I wanted to talk about one of my favourite classics, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. I read it a couple of years ago now and I loved it. It’s actually probably time for a reread. Anne is such an underrated Bronte sister so I wanted to share my love for this book. I also have the Penguin English Library edition which is stunning. Anyway let’s get started.

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  1. Helen is a fantastic main character, who is so well written. She is quite a guarded character but you can really sense an air of vulnerability from her throughout the book. I just think she’s quite an interesting person. The other characters are also well written.
  2. As with the other Bronte sister, Anne’s writing is fantastic. I found it easy to get into and so I think this could be a good place to start with the Bronte sisters or classics in general.
  3. The content for the plot is so progressive for the time and it’s also interesting to see what things were like at that time. I found the plot to be compelling throughout but I think that some may find the middle drags a little bit.
  4. If you enjoyed the works of the other Bronte sisters, than you need to check this book out too. Or if you just enjoy Victorian literature in general than I would recommend it.
  5. Although this was published in 1848 it was still accessible to modern readers. Personally I think it has aged very well and would recommend it to everyone who enjoys classics, especially people who prefer Victorian literature.

 

That is all I have to share with you for now :). As you can probably tell I loved this book and Anne’s other book Agnes Grey is also well worth a read. 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

 

 

 

Stranger of Tempest / Tom Lloyd

Title / Stranger of Tempest
Author / Tom Lloyd
Publication Date / 2001 (first published)
Standalone or series? / Book 1 of the God’s Fragment series
Star Rating / 

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Goodreads synopsis: Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Shattered Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent’s principalities, he walks the land in search of purpose. He wants for little so bodyguard work keeps his belly full and his mage-gun loaded. It might never bring a man fame or wealth, but he’s not forced to rely on others or kill without cause. Little could compel Lynx to join a mercenary company, but he won’t turn his back on a kidnapped girl. At least the job seems simple enough; the mercenaries less stupid and vicious than most he’s met over the years. So long as there are no surprises or hidden agendas along the way, it should work out fine.

 

You guys are probably aware by now that I am always up for trying new fantasy books and this one sounded like something I’d enjoy. Unfortunately this was very much a case of it’s not you it’s me, if that makes sense. This was just one of those books that didn’t work for me. It definitely has potential to be a good fantasy series though but I personally had a few small complaints and one bigger complaint.  Let’s start with the smaller ones. I wasn’t invested in the characters at all and felt that they lacked a little depth. Having said that, they were still well written. I think Lynx was the most well rounded character but I didn’t feel like I understood him. I couldn’t get a grasp on his motives or his personality, which makes it a little tricky to become invested. The other characters lacked depth and I didn’t really care about any of them. Maybe we’ll get more background in later books. As I say though this is only a minor issue – it didn’t detract too much from my overall reading experience. The other small complaint was the pacing, although this really goes together with my main issue. To me the pacing was off and so didn’t help me become invested in the book, if that makes sense. My main complaint was the plot. It just felt very aimless to me. Basically this is your standard mercenary group plot with quite a bit of walking through tunnels in the middle of the book. I read this book over a couple of weeks because I had very little motivation to read it – the plot hadn’t drawn me in. I’ve said before in previous reviews that I don’t mind slower plots but this felt like it was going nowhere. It dragged quite a bit and I will admit to skim reading a few small sections. The fact that I couldn’t get a grasp on characters motives didn’t help me understand what was going on. I also think the second half let the book down overall. Something else that was missing for me was the atmosphere. There was very little to no suspense. This lack of atmosphere also contributed to me not becoming immersed in this book as I never had a true sense of extreme danger. Maybe I missed something, I don’t know. The narrative switches between now and then, which I wasn’t a huge fan of but I didn’t find it too jarring. I think because it wasn’t constantly changing between the two. On a more positive note, I thought it was well written, although it is overly descriptive so if that is not your thing than I would probably avoid this book. I think the dialogue was a bit mixed at times. Sometimes it was quite well done, other times a little fumbled. I can say that the world building was pretty good and there were some good action scenes too. The last thing I’ll mention is that this felt more like a standalone book than a first book in a series. By the end of this book things were wrapped up quite nicely and so I didn’t feel like there was a bigger picture or underlying threat to explore in the next book – maybe I just missed something. I don’t want to put anyone off trying this book though, as there are many great reviews of it on Goodreads.

 

Overall this book had a lot of potential and I think a lot of people will enjoy it, unfortunately I wasn’t one of them. I am not going to enjoy every book I read, so I would still recommend checking this out if the synopsis sounds appealing to you, as I think this was a good book. Although I didn’t love it I still think this was a good introduction to this series. I won’t be continuing on with this series though. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

August Wrap Up and September TBR

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s the end of the month so it’s time to talk about all the books I’ve read. I am pretty happy that it’s now going into the autumn months as autumn/winter are my favourite seasons :). Anyway I read 6 books this month, which isn’t that much compared to previous months. I didn’t have a lot of motivation to read this month, so I’m pretty happy that I still read 6 books.  As always I have linked each book to Wordery using my affiliate link, so you can get yourself a copy of any of these books if you want to. Let’s get started with my mini reviews.

 

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Stranger of Tempest / Tom Lloyd / ★★
This was very much a case of it’s not you, it’s me. It had a lot of potential but I personally felt it fell a little flat. My only small complaint was that the characters lacked some depth and the pacing wasn’t quite right. The plot felt a little aimless at times and the pacing suffered a little bit. Apart from that, this was a good book, but I just never got invested in it. If you like fantasy and the synopsis interests you I would still recommend checking it out. I have a full review of this coming soon.

 

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Child of the Prophecy / Juliet Marillier / ★★★
Of course the writing was fantastic. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I discovered Marillier this year and I think her writing is great. I do think that this was the weakest of the Sevenwaters trilogy so far. To be entirely honest I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character, Fainine – I found her quite frustrating a lot of the time. In my opinion there were also a few holes in the plot and I just didn’t find it as compelling as the previous two. Overall still a good book but definitely not my favourite.

 

A Pale View of Hills / Kazuo Ishiguro / ★★★
I’m a big fan of this author and I’ve been meaning to check out his debut book for a while now. As with his other books, memory plays a part in this book and there is an unreliable narrator. I found this to be a very intriguing story. This is definitely one of those books you will pick up more from rereading it. I will say that this is quite a vague book in some ways, so if you are a fan of straightforward plots and neatly solved mysteries than this may not be for you. You are given the bare bones of plot and it is up to you interpret the events of the book. Of course the writing is great and the characters are well written. I have enjoyed everything I’ve read from Ishiguro, so I would definitely recommend checking him out.

 

Germinal / Emile Zola / ★★★★
This is definitely not an easy read, in terms of the conditions of the characters during a miners’ strike – there is a lot of suffering and hardship in this book. It is a very interesting read, but it is very grim. The writing is fantastic, although there are quite a lot of long descriptions. It did take me some time to read it but it is quite dense and long (not in a bad way though). It did also take me some time to get used to all of the characters and to remember who’s who. I don’t have alot more to say about this. I would highly recommend reading it.

 

Empress of Bright Moon / Weina dai Randal / ★★★★
This is the second and final book in the Empress of Bright Moon duology. I thought this was a fantastic conclusion and it has definitely made me want to check out more historical fiction set in Ancient China. I found these books so easy to get into and as they are compelling they are quite quick reads. Basically I really enjoyed this book and the duology as a whole. I highly recommend checking this out, especially if you enjoy historical fiction.

 

Servant of the Empire / Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts / ★★★★
This is the second book in the Empire trilogy. I’m going to start this review by saying that this trilogy is fast becoming a new favourite of mine. As with the first book, this was very compelling.  Even though my copy was around 820 pages I flew through this book because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Once again the politics and intrigue were a highlight of this book. This is not an action packed fantasy book, but if you enjoy intrigue than you need to check out this trilogy. It is so good. I am very excited to read the third and final book. Clearly I would highly recommend this book, especially if you like your fantasy books filled with intrigue.

 

I’ve decided I’m not going to set myself a TBR for September. I’m just going to read what I want to at the time. I am currently reading Artemis by Andy Weir, which I am liking so far.  Other than that I’m not really sure – I have quite a few books on my TBR :). What was your favourite book in August? Mine was definitely Servant of the Empire. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Ashes of London / Andrew Taylor

Title / Ashes of London
Author / Andrew Taylor
Publication Date / 2017
Overall Star Rating / 

 

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Goodreads synopsis: London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer. In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back. Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

 

I actually ended up reading it as one of my holiday reads during the family holiday to Crete this year. I had seen the comparisons to C. J. Sansom and his Shardlake series, so I was interested in trying out this historical fiction. While I did end up enjoying this book, it definitely wasn’t perfect and it kind of proves to me once again not to be pulled in by comparison. To me this was a little disappointing after comparing it to that series. Having said that, it is a pretty compelling book. It’s almost 500 pages long but I managed to finish it pretty quickly because it does grip you into the story. Although I still not entirely convinced by the writing, it is good overall and quite easy to get into. I did find the writing dragged out a few scenes and so the book overall could have done with some cutting, however I never felt this adversely affected my overall reading experience. The author does a pretty good job of creating London during the 1600’s – he’s clearly done his research for this book. I personally find the setting an interesting one and he captures the fire really well, although the tension it creates doesn’t last long. I definitely found this quite a light and easy read – perfect holiday reading really. It’s not a profound book that will have you in deep contemplation but I don’t think it was written to be that sort of book – it’s simply an enjoyable historical fiction. One thing that I wasn’t entirely convinced by was the mystery. Without spoiling it, murders start taking place and there is a certain method that the killer has, but there is no given reason why this is. Why these people are murdered in this way… or maybe I missed something. I just didn’t feel that the mystery elements were fully developed and so I found it a little lacking. I think that is a theme for me with this book – it’s just a bit lacking in certain places as I also wanted more tension/suspense. The characters were good but again I wanted more from them. There wasn’t enough development and to be honest I didn’t really care about the characters. If anything I found them a little annoying, especially one of the main characters Cat – I wasn’t a fan of hers and there was many a time where I questioned what she was doing. Some of her actions make absolutely no sense to me. The ending was kind of anti-climactic but I still enjoyed seeing how it all unfolded. Anyway this definitely had potential but as I’ve already said it didn’t work for me. I’ve seen quite a few great reviews though, so don’t let all this dissuade you from trying it out if you are interested in reading it.

 

Overall this was a compelling and enjoyable read, but I definitely had a few issues with it. I will say I think it’s great holiday reading or it’s great if you want a lighter read. If you enjoy historical fiction and this time period then I would recommend checking this one out. I would say this has quite slow pacing, so if that is not normally your thing then it may be something to be aware of. Have you guys read this book?  I hope you are all having a wonderful day 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