5 reasons to read the Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s time for another 5 reasons to read style review. As you can see from the title I am going to be talking about The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, which is a part of the Canongate Myth series where modern writers rewrite ancient myths. I really enjoyed this book so I wanted to share this style of review with you guys. Let’s get started.

 

  1. If you are interested in Greek mythology and enjoy books about them, then you need to check this book out. It is a take on the tale of Odyssey but from the perspective of his wife, Penelope.
  2. Atwood has written Penelope so well and it so interesting to see this well known story from her perspective. She is such an interesting character and is wonderfully written. All of the characters are well written.
  3. The writing is fantastic and it is easy to become immersed in this story, despite it’s short length.
  4. If you are a fan of Margaret Atwood, then you should definitely check this book out.
  5. I think if you are new to this author, this could be a great place to start to get a feel for her writing style.

 

I’ve still only read two books by Atwood but I want to read more. I currently have The Blind Assassin sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read but I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I plan to read it this year though. I definitely want to read more from Atwood. Have you read any books by Margaret Atwood? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Death’s Mistress / Terry Goodkind

Title / Death’s Mistress
Author / Terry Goodkind
Publication Date / 2017
Series or standalone / Book 1 of the Nicci Chronicles
Overall Star Rating / 

 

This is the first book in the Sister of Darkness: the Nicci Chronicles series. It is a new series following a character already established in his previous books, the Sword of Truth series. I am unsure the length this series will be but so far there are two books released. Although reading the previous series may give you a deeper understanding of things, it is not necessary to have read them.
In terms of the fantasy genre, this is very much a traditional quest storyline and the plot is quite simplistic in that way. At the start of the books Nicci and Nathan, two already established characters, are given a task and the rest of the book is focused on completely that task. Despite this, I found it be a compelling plot and once I started reading I didn’t want to put the book down. However, I will say that the beginning may be a little tricky to get into. It was clear that since I haven’t read the Sword of Truth series that I was missing a lot of history, so it took a little while to piece everything together and have a vague understanding of that history. However, I think the author did a good job at giving enough information to understand without bogging it down with info dumping. Obviously, there are spoilers for the Sword of Truth series in this book.  Once they set out on their quest it did get easier to follow. In many ways I think Goodkind tried to make this book as accessible as possible. There is a simple task to overcome with no deeper context or conflict they must overcome. In this way I think this is a great introduction to this series and a good way to reintroduce readers who are already familiar with the world. In a way the plot is almost episodic in nature as the characters go from one task to another, however this may lead to a rather repetitive sequence of events for some. As the plot does follow the same path a few times but I had no issues with this repetition. For me, the result is an enjoyable and compelling introduction to this new series. The pacing is good throughout which meant it was quite a quick read for me, despite being over 500 pages long. There are also some great actions scenes in this book. I look forward to seeing how things progress in the next book.
The characters were, at times, a little mixed for me. Although I thought the character development throughout the book was great, I felt that a little depth of character was lacking at times. Initially I wasn’t sure how it would work with well established characters, being a new reader to this world, but I think the author did a good job at introducing these characters and world to new readers. However, I felt at certain points that the author could have expanded the characters inner thoughts, especially Nicci. This is only a small issue though, as I did think that the character development in this book was generally good. Obviously, I can’t comment on how consistent the already established characters are in terms of how they are written in this series and the previous one. All I can say is that I enjoyed their characterisation in this book and I think Nicci is a fantastic female protagonist. In terms of the world, I think this was a weakness of this book. I think the author focused mainly on the storyline and characters and so sacrificed some world building. There is a vague understanding of the world, but I wanted more from it. I wanted more history and some politics of this world and how this affects the characters. This didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment while reading though because I still found myself immersed in the world and the story. I am interested to see more of this world in the sequels to this book.
Overall, I am very glad that I picked this book up. I thought it was a fantastic introduction to this new series and it did a good job at introducing this world to new readers. It has well written characters, a compelling plot and good writing. The second book in this series, Shroud of Eternity, came out January 11th and I will be checking it out as this sequel is one of my most anticipated releases of this year. I also have the first book of the Sword of Truth series on my TBR so I’m interested to see what I think of it.  If you have been reading a lot of traditional fantasy quest stories and are perhaps a little bored with it, then I wouldn’t recommend this book, as it doesn’t really do anything new within the genre. However, if you are just looking for a new, enjoyable and engaging fantasy story then I would recommend checking it out. 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

 

 

How I Review Books

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Today I thought I would talk about my reviewing process. On Tuesday 15th February I will have been posting on this blog for two years, which means two years of new reviews every Friday. I thought it might be interesting to you guys to see how I review books.
I don’t really have a set way to choose what books I review. Generally it is books that I have loved and want to share with you guys, or something that didn’t quite work for me and I want you guys to know why. Or it’s a book that I’ve received an ARC and want to post a review close to the release date. Sometimes there are books that I just have more thoughts to share with you guys. Basically I just review the books I feel like reviewing. Sometimes I know going into a book that I am going to review it, other times it’s only till I’ve finished it that I decided to want to review it. I can then make notes while I’m reading of anything I want to mention in a review or a quote that I particularly like. To be completely honest I don’t always make notes while I’m reading, because I’m just enjoying the book and forget to make notes. Sometimes I will make the notes soon after finishing the book. I will make notes on things like my thoughts on the writing, world building, characters and so on.
For a lot of my reviews I like to write them in advanced of posting them. I like to take plenty of time to draft my review and then start to go over it again. I don’t work that well under pressure so I will never write a review the day before posting it. That is just not how I work. If I’m feeling a little uninspired I quite like to go on goodreads and read some reviews of the book – I find that this can sometimes help me to organise my own thoughts for a review. Obviously don’t copy things for other peoples reviews but I think it can be a good source of inspiration. I don’t always do this; just when I’m having a little trouble organising my thoughts. Once I’ve written the review I will spend some time going over it and improving any sections I can. Sometimes it is good for me to just type down whatever I’m thinking and then go over it to make sure that I wasn’t just rambling on. Once I’m finished I will add in the links to my affiliate pages (e.g. Waterstones) and add in the photos of the books. If I have read the book on my kindle then I will add in the cover photos, which I source from goodreads. Otherwise I will take a photo using my lovely marble background. I have a list of all the reviews I’ve done, whether its’s a full review or mini reviews, so I won’t write a duplicate review.
I can’t quite believe that I’ve been doing this for almost 2 years now. I hope you guys aren’t getting bored of me :). The way I review hasn’t really changed since I started blogging, but I like to think that my reviews have improved. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

The Girl in the Tower / Katherine Arden + Giveaway

Title / The Girl in the Tower
Author / Katherine Arden
Publication Date / 2018
Series or standalone / Book 2 of the Winternight trilogy
Overall Star Rating / 
Read till the end for a chance to win a hardback edition of The Girl in the Tower, as well as a paperback edition of The Bear and the Nightingale.
Goodreads synopsis: For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic… The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse. Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior’s training, recognises this ‘boy’ as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical…

 

“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.”

 

Now this is one of most anticipated books of 2018 and I was lucky enough to receive an arc copy from Ebury publishing, so thank you very much for sending me an arc. I also have a hardback edition to giveaway so read till the end to know how to enter. I loved the first book in the series, although I had initially thought that it was a standalone, so I was very excited at the prospect of a sequel. I thought this was a fantastic continuation of this trilogy and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of reading it. This sequel has everything I loved about the first book but it felt like Vasya had grown as a character and it was so easy to slip back into this world. This development felt completely natural and it was great to see her become a little more mature. I liked that this growth is very gradual but at the same time you can clearly see her spirit remains very similar to what it was in book 1.  Her character is definitely one of my favourite things about this trilogy, although Morozko is also a contender for favourite character. We also have some fantastic secondary characters in this book and the villain is so well written. Arden does a fantastic job at creating characters that you really become invested in. All of the characters in this book are wonderful; they are all complex, they all have flaws and it’s just a pleasure to read about them all.

 

The world of this book is so atmospheric and vivid. You almost feel like you are in this wintery Russian world, which is great because I love this world. The writing makes it so easy to become fully immersed in this world. I think reading it in the winter is a good idea because of the atmosphere created in this book – you’ll feel even more immersed in the world. I don’t read a lot of books set in medieval Russia so this world is a refreshing change to the worlds I see in other fantasy books. Arden does a wonderful job at blending history with the fantasy elements. Details of everyday life are dotted throughout and add to the realism of the world, while the fantasy elements are woven so well they add a fantastic sense of a fairy tale to the story. I also loved that we got to see Moscow in this instalment, whereas with the first book we were very much focused in the countryside. The world is definitely one of my favourites at the moment. In terms of the plot, this sequel picks up soon after the events of book 1 and continues the story of  Vasilisa (or Vasya), a young woman very much constricted by the world in which she lives. I loved that we were throw straight back into the story as I think it made it easier to get into the flow of it again. The plot is compelling throughout and I found it hard to put down once I’d started reading. This story definitely has more of a sense of urgency and so a little more fast paced then the first book, but I think that really worked with the story. I am always a bit cautious when reading a sequel as some second books are just not as good as the first, but that is not the case with this one. If anything I think this sequel was better as Arden become more comfortable and confident with the world and characters.

 

How to enter the giveaway: Unfortunately this will be UK only, so if you live in the UK comment down below that you want to enter and leave a way for me to contact you – an email address or your twitter handle so I can message you. If you don’t want to enter here then check out my Twitter for the giveaway tweet.  Thank you to Ebury publishing for sending me a copy to giveaway. Ends 31st January.

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If you can’t tell I absolutely loved this book and I can’t recommend it highly enough, I think this sequel is a little more sure-footed then it’s predecessor, which really tells you how much I enjoyed it. I am so excited for the third and final book, The Winter of the Witch, which I think has a tentative August 2018 release date (this could change). If you enjoy fantasy with a fairy tale feel to them or want to try some fantasy set in Russian then I highly recommend checking this out. This book was just as good as the first book, if not better, so if you enjoyed the first you will probably love this book too.  Have you started this series yet? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

A Natural History of Dragons / Marie Brennan

Title / A Natural History of Dragons
Author / Marie Brennan
Publication Date / 2014
Page no. / 334
Series or standalone / Book 1 of the Memoirs of Lady Trent series
Overall Star Rating / 
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First and second book in the Lady Trent series.

Goodreads synopsis: All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day. Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

 

I’ve had this on my radar for quite some time but I recently saw it in a book store and decided to finally pick it up. I’m very glad that I have now finally read it. Although quite different to a lot of the fantasy books that I read, this was a very enjoyable read. Firstly I think the world was very well written. This world is heavily based around the Victorian period, just with dragons. It’s quite a unique world, in terms of the fantasy that I read, and I really appreciated that. Basically I thought this world was great and I’m interested to see more of it in the later books. Despite the sometimes slower pacing, the plot is compelling throughout. It isn’t a fast paced, action packed fantasy but I really enjoyed that about this book. It focuses more on the characters and their interest in dragons, making it quite a meandering plot line. However this slow pacing and lack of action will not be to everyone’s taste so it may be something to keep in mind. Personally I found it to be a nice change of pace. I liked that this book is full of discovery and mystery, which was a nice surprise, and I found the sections about the dragons to be really interesting. The pacing and the plotting makes it easy to become absorbed into the story and the characters.

 

The characters are another strength of this book. I thought all of them were so well written and I loved Isabella as a main character. She’s quite relatable in many ways and her development through the book was really well done. I did think that some of the secondary characters fell a little flat and could have done with more depth. I did still enjoy these characters but I just felt that there was a lack of development for some. I think because this book is told from Isabella’s perspective (1st person narrative) so the focus is very much on her, instead of say a 3rd person narrator who would be able to give a wider look into all of the characters. Having said that, I very much enjoyed Isabella’s perspective and think it works really well with the story, but it does mean that Isabella is a more fleshed out character when compared with others. I found it so easy to get into the flow of her story and was invested in her character from early on. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy the narrative when I first picked this up but I actually really enjoyed it.

 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this series and I’m glad that I finally read it. I loved the setting and I’m excited to see how it will continue on in the next books. I definitely plan to continue on with this series. If you are looking for a fantasy book with a slow but compelling plot and you like dragons then I would recommend checking this series out. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

Time of Dread / John Gwynne

Title / Time of Dread
Author / John Gwynne
Publication Date / 2018
Page no. / 480
Series or standalone / Book 1 – Of Blood and Bone trilogy
Overall Star Rating / ★.5

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Goodreads synopsis: The Ben-Elim, a fierce race of warrior-angels, burst into the Banished Lands over a hundred and thirty years ago. They were in pursuit of their eternal enemy, the Kadoshim demon-horde. On that day a great battle was fought, the Ben-Elim and Kadoshim joined by allies from the races of both men and giants, and a great victory was won. Now much of the Banished Lands is ruled by the Ben-Elim, who have made this world their home, extending their influence and power as they swallow ancient kingdoms into the protective grasp of their ever-extending borders. But peace is fragile within the realm and the Kadoshim that remain are now amassing on the edges of the empire… Threats long in the shadows are about to strike

 

I’ve been aware of this authors other fantasy series for quite some time now but I’ve never picked it up. So when I saw that he was coming out with a new trilogy I was intrigued. I will say that although you can read this without reading his first series (as I did), there are references that probably went straight over my head as it is set in the same world.  Overall I thought this was a great introduction to this new trilogy. I have to admit being in a bit of a reading slump while reading this so it did take me a little while to become fully invested in the story, so it did start slow for me. I think it was a bit slow to better introduce new readers to this world, as well as reminding others of it. Although the first half is quite slow, I never felt that it dragged or was boring. The writing was good and the suspense is pretty well done. The sense of dread/unease is apparent throughout the plot and you can really feel that something bad is coming. I also thought that the fight scenes were written really well. This book has multiple perspectives; each of which was distinctive and compelling. I think I would say I found Sig’s and Bleda’s chapters the most compelling but I enjoyed them all. I know I’ve said that the start is slow, but after the first few chapters I found this book quite addictive. Due to this it was quite a fast read for me because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  I really liked the way that the plot threads came together through the book. I thought one of the main strengths of this book was the characters. We have an array of different characters with different beliefs. I thought all of them were well written and there were quite a few intriguing characters, even the secondary characters were interesting. Although I think I wanted a little more information about the Kadoshim, but that’ a minor issue. The world is quite a vast one with various species of people and animals.  I was immersed in this world from very early on and would love to know more about it. I liked that in this world the line between light and dark is quite blurred and you’re never quite sure who you can trust – it’s adds a certain amount of unease to the story. If you like strong world building in your fantasy books, than you’ll probably enjoy this book. I did predict a certain revelation that happens at the end of the book fairly early on, but it was still enjoyable to see it unfold. If you can’t tell I really enjoyed this book.

 

Overall I thought this was a great introduction to this trilogy. You can definitely read and enjoy this without having read Gwynne’s previous series. I will be keeping my eye out for the release of the sequel whenever that is and hopefully picking up Malice at some point. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

December Wrap Up and January TBR

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s time for the last wrap up of 2017. This month I read a lot of great books which is a pretty good way to end this reading year.

 

Monstress Vol 1: Awakening  Marjorie M. Liu (writer) & Sana Takeda (artist) / ★★★
While I did end up enjoying this graphic novel, I did also have some issues with it. Firstly, let’s talk about the positives. I loved the art style and the premise is an interesting one. I thought the main character was intriguing and I’m definitely interested to see more of her. My favourite characters were probably Kippa and Master Ren, though. I think the depth of the characters is a little lacking as we don’t know a lot about any of them but perhaps that will come in later volumes. Some of the artwork of Maiko with the monster on her arm really reminded me of Ashitaka from the Studio Ghibli film, Princess Mononoke, when he’s cursed. Anyway let’s talk about some of the issues I had. I thought that the world building was quite lacking. Perhaps it’s to keep the mysterious aspect of it all but I wanted more explanations of things, like the world and the mask. I also felt that the plot was kind of confusing at times so it was a little tricky to keep up with it. Another thing to be aware of is the level of violence and gore in this graphic novel. If you are not a fan of blood and gore then I would probably miss this one out. Overall I thought this was good but I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. I will probably be checking out the second volume at some point.

 

The Night Without Stars / Peter F. Hamilton / ★★★★
This is the second and final book in the Chronicle of the Fallers duology. I was initially a bit worried that it has been a while since I read the first book but I actually found it quite easy to get back into the flow of the story. As with the first book, the plot is compelling and the world is an interesting one.  I think the plot did drag a little at times but these sections never lasted for long. We see some familiar characters as well as meeting some new ones. I found that all of the characters are well written, although some were a little lacking in depth. Overall I thought this was a fantastic continuation of this series and I would highly recommend checking it out.

 

The Makioka Sisters / Jun’ichirō Tanizaki / ★★★★
I’ve had this on my shelf for quite some time now so I’m glad that I finally picked it up. This book was originally written in Japanese and my edition was translated by  Edward G. Seidensticker. I thought this was a fantastic book. It was definitely quite slow at times but the insight into Japanese culture at the time and an insight into the dynamics of the Makioka family. The writing was easy to get into and you become quickly invested in the story. The characters are definitely a strength of this book. I really enjoyed seeing them progress through the 500 page book. Overall I thought this was a great read and I would recommend checking it out.

 

A Natural History of Dragons / Marie Brennan / ★★★★
This is the first book in the Lady Trent series. I have to admit that I’ve been debating on whether to read this series for quite a while now and I finally decided to try it out this month. From the beginning I found the story to be compelling, despite being quite different to a lot of fantasy I’ve read. The characters were well written and the writing is good. Basically I really enjoyed this book and a full review will be posted in January.

 

The Tropic of Serpents / Marie Brennan / ★★★★
This is the second book in the Lady Trent series. I thought this was a fantastic continuation from the first book and it was great to be back in this world. Once again it was an easy and enjoyable read; I may have even enjoyed this one slightly more than the first book. It was great to be back with these characters and I enjoyed meeting the new ones too. I will be continuing on with this series, although I haven’t got my hands on the next book yet.

 

Tales from Watership Down / Richard Adams / ★★★★
Watership Down is one of my all time favourite books so of course I enjoyed this short story collection. I love the writing, the stories are compelling and it was great to be back with familiar characters. Basically I really enjoyed this book and it kind of makes me want to reread Watership Down.

 

Death’s Mistress / Terry Goodkind / ★★★★
I picked this one up on a bit of a whim in a bookshop and I am glad that I did as I really enjoyed this book. Now this follows a character that is first introduced in another series by this author which I have not read but I didn’t have any issues getting into the flow of the story. The writing is easy to get into, the plot is compelling and the characters are well written. The second book is set to be released in January and I will definitely be checking it out. I will have a full review of this up at some point.

 

The Girl in the Tower / Katherine Arden / ★★★★★
Since this is not being released for a few weeks and I’m doing a full review closer to the release date, I’m not going to say much about this book yet. All I’m going to say is that I thought it was fantastic and I definitely recommend checking this series.

 

I had a pretty great reading month in December and I just about managed to complete my Goodreads reading goal of 100 books. In terms of my January TBR I’m going to keep it simple and just read what I want to at the time, although I do plan to read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. That’s it for my 2017 wrap ups – hopefully I’ll have another great reading year in 2018. What was your favourite book in December? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa