Mini Review: 2 Series

 

Series title / Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
Title of book 1/ Wolf Brother
Author / Michelle Paver
No. of books / 6
Star Rating / ★★★
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: Thousands of years ago the land is one dark forest. Its people are hunter-gatherers. They know every tree and herb and they know how to survive in a time of enchantment and powerful magic. Until an ambitious and malevolent force conjures a demon: a demon so evil that it can be contained only in the body of a ferocious bear that will slay everything it sees, a demon determined to destroy the world. Only one boy can stop it—12 year old Torak, who has seen his father murdered by the bear. With his dying breath, Torak’s father tells his son of the burden that is his. He must lead the bear to the mountain of the World Spirit and beg that spirit’s help to overcome it.

 

This is probably one of my favourite all time series. It’s probably classed as middle grade. I say probably because I don’y really know what middle grade is as someone from the UK. I first read it years ago and I’ve reread quite a few times now. The first thing I love about this series is the setting. The author clearly did a whole lot of research for this series and it’s resulted in a wonderfully vivid world. The world building is one of the main strengths of this series. The characters are just as well written. Through the six books you really become invested in them, however I will say that their development could have been better. Wolf is, of course, one of my favourite characters. I will say that these are quite light fantasy reads, so if your looking for denser fantasy worlds than you probably won’t enjoy this one. Having said that these are great, fun reads. The plot is compelling throughout the six books, although perhaps a little simplistic. The pacing is also slightly off at times but it doesn’t detract too much from the overall reading experience. I was hooked very early on and I flew through each book pretty quickly. If you enjoy middle grade, than you definitely need to check out this series. Overall I think this is a great series with one of my favourite settings.

 

 

Series title / Bartimaeus series
Title of book 1 / The Amulet of Samarkand
Author / Jonathan Stroud
No. of books / 3
Star Rating / ★★★
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: Nathaniel is a magician’s apprentice, taking his first lessons in the arts of magic. But when a devious hot-shot wizard named Simon Lovelace ruthlessly humiliates Nathaniel in front of his elders, Nathaniel decides to kick up his education a few notches and show Lovelace who’s boss. With revenge on his mind, he summons the powerful djinni, Bartimaeus. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely, and when Nathaniel sends the djinni out to steal Lovelace’s greatest treasure, the Amulet of Samarkand, he finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of magical espionage, murder, and rebellion.

 

I think this is such an underrated series as I haven’t seen it around the bookish community at all. This trilogy was actually one of the first I read and so I always will think it’s great. It has a compelling story, well written characters and good writing. The world building is also great. If you are looking for a fast-paced, entertaining adventure than you should definitely check these books out. I will say that this book does rely on footnotes to give more information so if that’s not your thing than you may want to avoid this book. I personally find that they worked quite well and add a better understanding of the world and characters – it never felt bogged down. One of my favourite things about this book is Bartimaeus. He is so snarky and it’s amazing. The relationship between Nathaniel and Bartimaeus is great and the development throughout the three books is a pleasure to read. Nathaniel can be kind of irritating at times but I was still invested in his character. I will say that I think this trilogy is aimed at younger readers but it can still be enjoyed by a variety of ages. To me these are quick, fun reads that I’ve really enjoyed reading on multiple occasions. There is also a prequel (The Ring of Soloman) which is also great.

 

Both of these series are great so I thought it was about time to review and recommend them to you guys. My favourite of the two is probably the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series but I love both. Have you guys read either of these? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

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 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

 

 

 

10 Ongoing Series I’m Loving Right Now

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Today I want to talk about some of my favourite ongoing series. These are basically the series that I want the next book in the life :). I’m quite impatient when it comes to books so I would love all of these sequels to just arrive magically at my door, so I can find out what happens next in each series. No surprises that the majority of these are fantasy series and I do have some honourable mentioned. Let’s get started.
  1. The Winnowing trilogy by Jen Williams – 3 books planned – only 1 out so far – The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twin (unreleased)
  2. Book of the Ancestor trilogy by Mark Lawrence – 3 books planned – only 1 out so far – Red Sister and Grey Sister (unreleased)
  3. The Queens of Renthia trilogy by Sarah Beth Durst – 3 books planned – 2nd book just released – The Queen of BloodThe Reluctant Queen and The Queen of Sorrow (unreleased)
  4. Echoes of the Fall series by Adrian Tchaikovsky – unsure about the length of this series – currently 2 books out – The Tiger and the Wolf and The Bear and the Serpent
  5. Gods of Blood and Powder series by Brian McClellan – possibly 3 books – only 1 out so far – Sins of Empire 
  6. Gentleman Bastard sequences by Scott Lynch – 7 books planned – 3 out so far – Lies of Locke LamoraRed Seas Under Red SkiesThe Republic of Thieves, The Thorn of Emberlain (unreleased), The Ministry of Necessity (unreleased), The Mage and the Master Spy (unreleased) and Inherit the Night (unreleased)
  7. The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon – 6 books planned – 3 out so far – The Bone SeasonThe Mime Order and The Song Rising
  8. Draconis Memoria series by Anthony Ryan – possibly 3 books – 2 out so far – The Waking Fire and The Legion of Flame
  9. The Song of the Shattered Sand series by Bradley P. Bealieu – 6 books planned – 2 out so far – Twelve KingsBlood Upon the Sand and A Veil of Spears (unreleased)
  10. Dandelion Dynasty trilogy by Ken Liu – 3 books planned – 2 out so far – The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms 

 

Honourable mentions: The Bear and the Nightingale series by Katharine Arden, the Cromwell trilogy by Hilary Mantel, The Legends of the First Empire series by Michael J. Sullivan, the Licanius trilogy by James Islington and the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss.

 

What ongoing series are you guys loving at the moment? Are there any sequels you’re impatiently waiting for? Clearly I have quite a few :). I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Eagles of Rome trilogy / Ben Kane

Title / Eagles At War, Hunting the Eagles and Eagles in the Storm
Author / Ben Kane
Publication Date / 2015, 2016, 2017
Overall Star Rating / 
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: In the summer of 9 CE, Publius Varus, the Roman governor of Germania, and Lucius Tullus, a centurion garrisoned on the Rhine, march east with three legions. As they prepare to return to their winter quarters, they are lured off the road and ambushed by German warriors. The Germans are led by Arminius, a chieftain who is a trusted ally of Rome—and a man who has been secretly planning to betray the empire since childhood. Trapping Varus’ legionaries between a hillside and a marsh, and thereby preventing them from forming up or using their artillery, Arminius and his warriors wreak a terrible slaughter. The Roman defeat is overwhelming, but it is not until the third day of the massacre that the scale of Arminius’ victory becomes clear. Three legions, upwards of 14,000 men, have been annihilated, and three treasured Eagle standards have been lost. Just a few hundred legionaries, including Tullus, manage to escape. Nor is the survivors’ ordeal over. Pursued to the last Roman fort east of the Rhine, they are besieged by thousands of bloodthirsty tribesmen. Only the gods can save them now.

 

I picked up the first book up on a bit of a whim as I wanted to try out more historical fiction. I’m glad I did, although it take me a while to get into the first book. I thought this trilogy was a fantastic military historical fiction depicting the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD (the first book). Now I knew very little about this time period before reading this book, so I can’t so much about the accuracy of the historical elements, but I thought this was a fantastically realised trilogy. Personally, I felt that you could really tell that the author had done his research for these books. The world felt very authentic and from the beginning of the first book I was immersed in this world. The level of detail in this trilogy really lends itself to creating a very vivid world but at the same time it is very readable. It is not bogged down by all of the details. As I have briefly mentioned before, I do not know a lot about this time period, so I cannot comment on its accuracy. I can only say that the world Kane created is a vivid one. After reading this trilogy I am definitely interested in trying more historical fiction set in this time period.
The writing is great and so easy to get into. Kane does a fantastic job at creating tension and the overall atmosphere throughout the trilogy was so well done. It adds so much to the reading experience. This means that even if you know the history behind this time period and battle, you will still enjoy the book, despite knowing what will happen. The narrative does switch between a few perspectives (mainly switches between Arminius and Tullus), all of which are engaging but it’s perhaps something to be aware of if you are not normally a fan of multiple perspectives. The characters are all well written, if a little wooden at times. Having said that, I thought their progression throughout the trilogy was good. I will say that these books are quite battle focused and have a fair amount of violence in them, so if you’re a little squeamish than I would probably avoid this trilogy. The second book didn’t quite have the same intensity as the first and third book, in my opinion. I did still enjoy it, but it felt a little lacking. These books were pretty quick reads for me though, as the plot is engaging. There were a few instances of the plot dragging a little bit but the writing and world meant it was still gripping. Basically I thought this was an enjoyable historical fiction trilogy and I would definitely recommend checking it out.

 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic military historical fiction trilogy. I didn’t know much about this time period before reading this and I would definitely say you don’t need any prior knowledge to enjoy this trilogy. I think these are great reads for any historical fiction fan. I am interested in trying more books by this author. I’m sorry this review is quite short but hopefully it means that it’s concise :). Have you guys read these books? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Top 5 Most Read Authors

Hi guys, so I thought I would do something a little bit different and talk about my most read authors. This is pretty self explanatory – I am going to talk about the authors I’ve read the most books from. I’ve maybe missed some but I think these are right. Having said that, I’ve just remembered Meg Cabot. I read quite a lot of her stuff when I was younger. That’s the only other possible candiate I may have missed. Anyway I think these are my most read authors. Let’s get started.

 

  1. Garth Nix / 21 books – I think I have read the majority of his books by now, but there are some middle grade books co-written by him that I haven’t read. So I’ve read the Old Kingdoms trilogy, as well as Clariel and Goldenhand. I’ve also read the Keys to the Kingdom series, The Seventh Tower series, Shade’s Children, The Creature in the Case and To Hold the Bridge.

    DSCN0684.JPG

  2. Robin Hobb / 13 books – I’ve been slowly making my way through her books since I read Assassin’s Apprentice back in 2015. This does not include her work under her real name, Megan Lindholm. I have read the Farseer trilogy, the Liveship Trader’s trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy and two books in the Rain Wild Chronicles. I have also read The Wilful Princess & the Piebald Prince and Shaman’s Crossing.

    DSCN0677.JPG

  3. Trudi Canavan / 12 books – I think I have read all of her released books but I may be wrong. I’ve read the Black Magicians trilogy, the Traitor Spy trilogy, the Age of Five trilogy and The Magician’s Apprentice. I have also read the first two books in the Millennium’s Rule trilogy and the third and final book comes out this September.

    DSCN0690.JPG

  4. Brandon Sanderson / 11 books – To be honest I’ve kind of lost some of my love for Sanderson. I just don’t find myself wanting to read his books so much now – there are definitely a few sequels I’m interested in though. Anyway I’ve read the Elantris, Warbreaker, The Rithmatist, Steelheart, the Mistborn trilogy and The Alloy of Law. I have also read The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance: Part 1. 

    DSCN0682.JPG

  5. John Scalzi / 10 books – I find his books to be easy, fun and entertaining reads. The books I’ve read by this author include the Old Man’s War series, Fuzzy Nation, Lock in, Redshirts and The Collapsing Empire (read on my kindle).

    DSCN0672.JPG

 

It will be interesting to see how this changes over the future years of reading. Although it will be a bit of work to get ahead of Garth Nix at this point :). Do you know who your most read author is? I’d love to know :). I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

UK vs US Book Covers Part 2

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Since my last UK vs US book covers did quite well, I thought it was about time for another one. I actually struggled a bit finding some of these covers to compare but I got there in the end :). There are so many fantastic covers out there and I quite enjoyed doing this first part, so I decided to do it again. I think there will be more parts to this in the future too. Let’s get started.

 

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – This one has to go to the UK edition. I love the design of the UK editions of Sanderson books – they are seriously amazing and look so good all together. I am also never really a fan of people on the cover.

 

 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – This one is a tricky one as I really like both, but I think I’m going to go with the US edition. There’s just something about it that I like more and I think it lends itself to the story a little better.

 

 

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher – I’m giving this one to the UK cover. As I’ve already mention I’m never a big fan of people on the cover and I just prefer the UK covers. Side note this is a really good fantasy series that I feel is pretty underrated.

 

 

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer – Both of these lend themselves to the weirdness of this book, but I definitely prefer the US edition for this one. I love the colours and the font, although I do like the UK version too.

 

 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – This has to go to the UK cover – I seriously love this one so much. The blue is amazing and I love the illustration of the moth. There’s something about the yellow of the US cover that doesn’t work quite as well.

 

There you have it – some awesome UK and US book covers. I’d love to do another one of these post so if you guys have any recommendations of book covers to compare then please let me know. I hope you are all having a fantastic day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa