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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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. 

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  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).

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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

 

 

Series I Want to Start

Hi guys, so there are so many series out there that I want to try out, which is why I am sharing 12 series I want to start for today’s post. You won’t be surprised to find that the majority of them are fantasy series :). I am sure I’ve missed some, but these are the ones that first came to mind. These are series that sound like something I’d like and/or have an interesting premise. As you will probably be aware of by now, I read primarily fantasy and so I am always up for trying new books and series of the fantasy genre. Let’s get started with the list.
I don’t know when I’ll get to these, as I have a few unfinished series to read as well, but hopefully at some point I’ll check them out. I think we all know the problem of having an ever growing tbr :). I’d love to know if you’ve read any of them and your thoughts on them, or if you plan to read any of them. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Inheritance Cycle / Christopher Paolini

Title / EragonEldestBrisingr and Inheritance
Author / Christopher Paolini
Publication Date / 2002, 2005, 2oo8, 2011
Overall Star Rating / 

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Goodreads synopsis of book 1: One boy. One dragon. A world of adventure. When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realises he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands.
I will freely admit before starting this review that I am a little biased towards this series. I first read it when I was going through a hard time in my life and it was such a wonderful way to escape it all. For me, it is a series that I will always love. Having said that I know it is not perfect. It has been criticised for its derivative nature and that it pulls strongly from the conventions of the fantasy genre. Many similarities with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Star Wars have been highlighted, as well as some similarities with other sources. Another criticism of this series are some inconsistencies throughout the books, for example with the language. As well as some unrealistic views of warfare and strategy. The last thing I am going to mention here is the writing. Some say that it makes it impossible to feel for the characters. I personally don’t agree with that. I will admit that it is overly wordy at times and Paolini is overly descriptive, but I mostly enjoyed his writing. There are definitely times throughout the series the writing could have been pulled back a bit to make the series shorter, as the books didn’t really need to be so long. I personally had little issue with the writing, although I understand the issues with these books. Back to the similarities before I move on. I never had an issue with this – I definitely saw similarities with some things in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, although at the time I hadn’t read the books, but I saw it as inspiration, not imitation. That is my personal take. I think because I was younger when I first read this, I was less of a critical reader. So I was less aware of these things at the time of first reading. Therefore I will always love this series, despite it’s flaws.

 

Now I am going to talk about some positives. I love all of the characters in this series – it has some of my favourite characters. I think they are all well-written, complex and flawed. Yes Eragon is a bit of an exception to the flawed category, but he is by no means perfect. The development of the characters is done well, and I love the relationship between Eragon and Saphira. It is one of my favourite parts of this series. Their friendship is a wonderful part of this series and it is a pleasure to see it develop through the four books. Other favourite characters include Angela and Elva. The plot is engaging, entertaining and a great form of escapism. The world building is great – Paolini has created a world that you will want to be real. I especially loved the descriptions of Ellesméra, and it clearly shows the skill at which the author has created this world. For me, this is just such a great series. The characters, world-building and plot are all very well done and I hope to see more of this world in future books.

 

Overall, yes this series has flaws, but I still love this series and would highly recommend it.What book is perfect anyway? 🙂 This series is definitely in need of a reread for me – I think I will plan it for next year. Let me know if you have read this series and your thoughts on it. I’m interested to see what you guys think. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa