3 Mini Reviews: Fiction

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Today I have some mini reviews of three fiction book to share. I enjoyed all of these books and wanted to share some thoughts with you guys. I don’t think I have anything else to say so I’ll just get straight onto the reviews :).

 

The Help / Kathryn Stockett / ★ 
This is a fantastic historical fiction standalone. I first read this as part of my GCSE English literature course. It is set in the 1960’s in Mississippi and is told primarily from the point of view of three women. One of the main strengths of this book are the characters. The main characters of this book are so well written and you come to really care about them. It is also such an important book to read, in terms of its focus on racism and what black maids had to go through at the time. Having said that, I think it’s also important to note that there is a lot more to it and that this is a historical fiction, but perhaps it’s a good place to start if you don’t know alot about this time in history.The writing is easy to get into and it is engaging throughout. Overall I think this is a great book and I would definitely recommend checking it out.

 

The Bees / Laline Paul / ★ 
This is unlike anything that I’ve read before and I really enjoyed the uniqueness of it. Initially it was a little tricky to get into but after a few chapters I was really intrigued by the story. The world building, character development and level of detail are all fantastic. There is also some pretty good action in this book too. You can tell that the author did her research and really knows her stuff. If you are interested in bees than this may be something you enjoy. This will definitely not be to everyone’s taste (I think it has quite mixed reviews on Goodreads) but I personally really enjoyed this. If you are looking for a unique read with bees as the main characters, then you may enjoy this book.

 

Snow Country / Yasunari Kawabata / ★ 
This is quite an odd one. I appreciated it as a good book, more than I enjoyed the plot. It just didn’t quite work for me – somehow it didn’t speak to me, if that makes sense. That is entirely my personal preference and I do still think this is a good book. I thought this was very well written and the setting is so well done. The characters are all interesting and complex – they are definitely one of the main strengths of this book, but I didn’t really care about any of them. I did still find them intriguing. For me the main strength of this book was the setting and the atmosphere. If you are not fans of books with little plot than this probably isn’t for you, but if you are interested in reading Japanese literature and enjoy complex characters than you may enjoy this. I am definitely interested to try out something else by this author, but so far I haven’t decided which of his books to read next.

 

I recently saw that Laline Paull has another book coming out soon, so I’ll definitely be checking that out at some point. Have you guys read any of these books? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Title / The Demon KingThe Exiled QueenThe Gray Wolf Throne and The Crimson Crown.
Author / Cinda Williams Chima
Publication Date / 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012
Overall Star Rating / 
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch, and reformed thief Han Alister must rely on all his skills to provide for his mother and his sister. While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer, discover three young wizards using a magical amulet to set fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han wrestles it from them, but without realising that his heroism has put him and his family in great danger. For the young arsonist is Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, and the amulet a treasure with immense power; it once belonged to the Demon King, the legendary wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. The Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back. Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has just returned to the city after spending three years with her father’s Clan in the mountains. She aspires to be like Hanalea, the legendary warrior-queen who vanquished the Demon King and saved the world, but her mother has other plans for her – plans that will put both the queendom and Raisa’s future in great danger. The Seven Realms will tremble when the adventures of Han and Raisa collide in this stunning new page-turner from bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima.

 

This is a four book high fantasy series set in a traditional fantasy world of medieval elements. The first book lays down a good foundation for this series but it is a little slow at times and the pacing can be a bit uneven at times, but bear with it. To be honest all of the books suffer a little with uneven pacing and it does drag at times. It could perhaps do with a little refinement, especially in terms of the flow of plot. I think the first book is definitely the weakest one so if you’ve read it and weren’t sure about it, I would recommend giving the second book a go. Mostly the plot is engaging though. The world is well written and I loved the different areas of the world. We also got a fair amount of history of the world, allowing for a better understanding of it. It has a great mix of politics, war, magic, adventure and romance.  I really enjoy the characters in this book. Both Raisa and Han are fantastic protagonists. Raisa is definitely a bit of a typical princess but I liked her overall progression throughout the four books. Han’s progression is just as good as well. One thing I found a little frustrating in the first book is the number of love interests. I personally don’t enjoy such things, but it didn’t detract too much from the reading experience and it doesn’t last too long. The writing is generally good, although I kind of felt it was a bit lacking at times. I thought the conclusion to the series was a great one. Each book is better than the last, in my opinion, although none of them are perfect (what book is though?). I found these books to be relatively easy, entertaining and engaging reads.

 

Overall I think this is a fantastic high fantasy series. Yes it does have some flaws but I enjoyed each of the books and I would recommend it, especially if you are a big fan of the fantasy genre. The characters can appear abit cliched, especially in book one, but in my opinion their progression through the books is great and I personally really like them. The plot, while slow to begin with, develops very well and I love how it progresses. The world is also well written. As previously mentioned, the pacing and slow plot are my two main issues with this series. Having said that, I didn’t find it affected my reading experience very much, but I can see how it may be an issue for other readers. Reading back over this, I’m realising it is quite short, but hopefully that just means I’m being concise! I hope you guys don’t mind it’s a little short. Have you guys read this series? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

5 Reasons to Read The Tales of Shikanoko series by Lian Hearn

Hi guys, how are you all doing? I’m back today to share a review – I am sure you guys know the routine now :). I haven’t done a 5 reasons to read style review for a while, so I thought I would do one today. Sometimes it’s easier to organise my thoughts this way. You can see from the title what I’m going to be talking about so I’m just going to get straight into it :).

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  1. The setting is amazing. It is set in a mythical medieval Japan, which is what drew to this book in the first place. I absolutely love this setting – it is definitely one of my favourite things about this book. The world building is fantastic and it is such an interesting world.
  2. The characters are all interesting and complex – I like that the characters are not good or evil, they are a bit of both. The way that it is written means that it is sometimes a little hard to feel connected with the characters, but it is still interesting to see how they progress and I didn’t have an issue with it. One thing to note is there are quite a lot of characters, so it is a little tricky to keep track of everything at first, but I found it resolved itself after a couple of chapters.
  3. I love the mystical feel of this book. It very much feels like you are reading an old myth, and I wonder whether if you have more knowledge of Japanese myths, you would get more enjoyment or a better understanding of things. It is by no means necessary to have that background knowledge though.
  4. More good points about this book include a great twisty plot, a interesting and well done magic system, political intrigue and great action. Also the covers are stunning :).
  5. If you like mythology, especially Japanese mythology, then I think you will enjoy this and I would definitely recommend checking it out.

 

There you have it – 5 reasons to read the Tales of Shikanoko series. I loved these books and I look forward to reading Hearn’s other series. This is definitely not going to be for everyone – I think because of the writing style it can seem quite impersonal and therefore hard to connect with the characters. I didn’t have an issue with that, but perhaps it is something to be aware of. 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

 

 

 

 

Sins of Empire / Brian McClellan

Title / Sins of Empire
Author / Brian McClellan
Publication Date / 2017
Overall Star Rating / ★ 

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Goodreads synopsis: The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires. The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present. As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.
I have no idea how it passed me by, but I didn’t realise until I started reading that this is related to his other trilogy, the Powder Mage trilogy. Again I don’t know why but I thought this was a whole new world, characters etc. So it was a nice surprise when I came across some familiar characters. I really don’t know how I missed that, but I did. This is set in the same world but on a different continent and about 10 years after the first trilogy. You could probably read this without reading the Powder Mage trilogy, but it will definitely add a deeper understanding of this if you have read it. Personally I would recommend reading it first. Anyway I thought this was fantastic. I think it was a great start to this new series – I’m not sure whether it’s a trilogy or a longer series. In my opinion it really show McClellan’s growth as a writer. It was easy to get into and I was hooked early on – I find McClellan’s books so easy to read and relatively fast reads too. You get completely immersed in the world. The world building is good, although maybe it helped that I have already read the Powder Mage trilogy and so already know it to some degree. I think if you love a lot of focus on world building than you may be disappointed, as I think McClellan focuses more on the characters and plot. The action scenes, intrigue and plot development are all fantastic. I personally love political fantasy and military fantasy – this book has both to varying degrees and I love that about it. This book is told from three main angles, so if you are not a huge fan of multiple perspective then it’s something to be aware of. I enjoyed each narrative equally, which isn’t an easy thing to achieve. As with the other books, a detective element is woven into this book and I personally really enjoy that. The twists and turns are also so well done.

 

The characters are great. As I’ve already briefly mentioned, it was great to be back with some familiar characters. I loved the characters from the Powder Mage trilogy, so it was great to be able to continue their story in this new trilogy. There is a great cast of characters in this book. The character development throughout this book was very well done. Both the old and new characters were a pleasure to read about them and I look forward to seeing where they go next. This book definitely has some of my favourite characters. Another strength of this world is the magic system – you basically have four types (Knacked, Privileged, Powder Mage or Marked and Bone eyes). Knacked is the most common and it basically means you are skilled in only one area, for example Olem, one of the main characters, can go without sleep for long periods of time and Adamat for the Powder Mage trilogy has a eidetic memory. Most Knacked can come across as humans who are simply good at certain things. Privileged is the dominant power force and relies solely on their hands. Privileged draw power from the Else and can then use it in whatever destructive force they want e.g. fireballs, lightning. Powder Mages use gun powder as the source of their power, which is why this is a flintlock fantasy, as it involves guns. Not much is known about Bone-eyes, other than that it seems similar voodoo in some ways. I think all these types of magic are so interesting and this magic system is definitely a favourite of mine.

 

Overall this was fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about this book and the previous trilogy as well. This was one of those books I didn’t realise how much I loved it until a while after I finished it :). I will probably have reread it before the end of the year. I had high hopes for this book and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. This book made me so excited for the continuation of this series. I don’t know when the next book is planned to be released but I hope I don’t have to wait for too long. Have you guys read this book yet? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

3 Mini Reviews: Kazuo Ishiguro

Hi guys, so it’s time for some more reviews. Today I thought I would share 3 mini reviews of 3 books by one of my favourite authors, Kazuo Ishiguro. I read my first book by him probably in my mid teens and have been slowly been making my way through his books ever since.

 

An Artist of the Floating World 
This was one of the first Ishiguro books I read and it definitely cemented my love for his works after reading Never Let Me Go. In this one we get a look at post-war Japan and we follow the main character, Masuji Ono. The pacing is pretty slow, but for me the writing very much pulls it forward. I never felt that it dragged in any way. This is a short book, at around 200 pages, and there are trademark things that Ishiguro always seems to use in his books, for example an unreliable narrator. I can definitely see that in some ways this is quite similar to Remains of the Day  – they are both set after WWII, both focus on old men and have unreliable narrators, but in my opinion they are separate books. Yes they have similarities but they also have differences. The setting of Japan is wonderfully done and it’s one of my favourite things about this book. Ishiguro is able to capture the Japanese scenery, culture and tradition. As always with Ishiguro, the characters are also very well written. Overall I very much enjoyed this one and would of course recommend it.

 

When We Were Orphans 
I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, but as you can see from the rating I did still enjoy it. Like all the other Ishiguro books I’ve read (5 for those interested) I enjoyed this book, however I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of his other works. Once again Ishiguro crafts a complex, flawed and unreliable narrator, Mr Banks. The pacing was abit off for me – it starts out quite slow and doesn’t really pick up until the last third of the book. Also I felt the plot wasn’t particularly well thought out. To be honest I’m still not entirely sure what it was – I kind of feel something was lacking maybe or I just didn’t engage with the plot as much as I have in his other books. Overall if you’re a fan of Ishiguro’s work then you will probably enjoy this, but if you are new to his work then I wouldn’t recommend this book to start with. I think Ishiguro himself has said that this is his weakest novel. Don’t quote me on that though. I did enjoy it, but I didn’t love it.

 

Never Let Me Go 
This is one of my favourite books. I actually first read it in school as part of my English literature course and I have loved it ever since. I’m not going to go into too much detail as I think this is the type of book to read when you don’t know much about the plot, if that makes sense. One of the main strengths of this book (in my opinion) is the characters. Ishiguro writes such amazing and detailed characters, as well as creating great friendships and relationships. The concept is such an interesting one and really quite eerie. The setting is fantastic and obviously the writing is wonderful too. If you are looking for a unique science fiction book then you should definitely check this book out. Overall I love this book and I would recommend it to everyone.

 

As you can tell I am a bit of a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro. I hope to read more of his books this year as I think I still have 3 to read. My opinion on his books can vary a bit, but you can always rely on fantastic writing and interesting characters and I have enjoyed all of his books, just to varying degrees. 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

 

 

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Title / Red Sister
Author / Mark Lawrence
Publication Date / 2017
Star Rating / 
Goodreads synopsis: At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.
But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse. Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

 

This is the first book in the Book of the Ancestor series and is my first book by this author. I have been aware of him for a while but I’ve been a bit unsure whether to read his first trilogy (The Broken Empire trilogy). I’ve heard the main character is pretty nasty – apparently he rapes two woman at the very start of the book and I’m not sure that is a character I want to read about. I don’t mind dark characters but I cannot get behind a character who would do that. Anyway when I heard he was coming out with a new series I was immediately interested. I didn’t know a whole lot about it but the blurb sounded interesting. I thought this was a fantastic book. The writing was great and easy to get into. I find sometimes with new authors it can take me some time to get into the flow of the writing but I had no such issues with this book. The narrative mainly follows Nona and I really enjoyed watching things unfold from her eyes. We see much of the plot develop within the convent Nona enters early in the book. Subsequently alot of the book is the development of the characters and the introduction to this new world, if that makes any sense. Basically it can be a little slow at times, as there is a lot of information given to the reader. There is quite some time spent reading about Nona’s lessons on various topics, from history to fighting. Personally I never had an issue with this. I don’t mind slower plots, as long as the world building and writing can push it forward. It is something to be aware of though, if you are not a fan of slower pacing. It is all part of the set up of the book and I thought it was well done.

 

There are quite a few interesting/intriguing characters and I enjoyed their progression throughout the book. I loved Nona as the main character. Lawrence has created an incredible cast of characters – all of which are complex, flawed and well written. The development of the characters throughout the book was so well done and I am so excited to see how they progress in future books.  The magic system was an interesting one, which I feel will further expand in the next books. It is a pretty complex magic system and I have to admit that I got a little muddled with it. Having said that I do think it is well thought out, it is just a little dense.  The world building was done very well. The set up of a new world is so important and I think Lawrence did a great job with this one. While we do spend most of the book in the convent, the outside world is explored through tales and a few flashbacks, so we get a wider understanding of the world.  The ending was fantastic and is a great set up to the next book. I am excited to see where things will go from here and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this new world. I was quite quickly immersed with the world and characters, and the plot was engaging throughout. As I have mentioned it is a little slow at times but it never dragged. I’m now contemplating checking out his other series but I’m still not sure I can put aside the nastiness of the main character. I will definitely be checking out the next book in this series and to be honest I’m a little sad for the wait now. I’m sure I’ll survive though :). I highly recommend checking this book out, especially if you love fantasy. 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

 

 

Mini Reviews: 3 Classics

Hi guys, how are you? Today I have some mini reviews of 3 classics to share with you all.  On a completely different note I have my theory test next week and the anxiety is really starting to settle in now. I’ll just have to try my best and hope that is enough :). Anyway back to the point of this post.

 

Mayor of Casterbridge / Thomas Hardy / 
I decided to pick this one up after enjoying Far From the Madding Crowd, also by Hardy. This is another fantastic book by this author. I very much enjoy the writing style and the plot is engaging throughout, although perhaps a little slow at times. Hardy does have quite a descriptive writing style, so that is something to be aware of if that isn’t your thing – I personally like it. There is so many details in this book, and I think if I reread it I would pick up on more things. It is definitely not a very happy book but it is well worth a read.  The characters are so well written – their complexities make them fantastic character studies. Overall I enjoyed this book alot and I would highly recommend it. I hope to get to Tess of the D’Urbervilles this year.

 

The Ladies’ Paradise / Emile Zola / 
This is my second book by Zola and I will definitely be reading more, although it is probably more of a 3.5 star rating in retrospect.I think this is a really interesting book to read and it is set in an very interesting time. I have been interested in reading this ever since I saw the fairly loose BBC adaptation of it a while back. The characters are generally well written, although I think their development is sometimes sacrificed for the focus on the world. The different strands of the book are all engaging and Zola’s writing is great. Having said that the lengthy descriptions can make the book drag in places but do bear with it as it is well worth a read. Overall I definitely recommend this book and I am looking forward to trying out more from Zola. I currently have Germinal on my shelves waiting to be read.

 

Rebecca / Daphne du Maurier / ★.5 
I have to admit that I found this a little slow to start. The main character I found to be a little flat initially and I found the descriptive writing style a bit tricky to get into. Having said that, after around 100 pages I was invested in the book. I ended up quite enjoying the writing style and I thought the build up of suspense and mystery was done very well. I loved the mystery of it – the vagueness of it all keeps you guessing throughout the book. The characters turned out to all be interesting, in their own way – Rebecca is especially intriguing. I think my expectations of the book weren’t completely meet but I did still like it. Overall I very much enjoyed this and I am interested to try out more from this author

 

That’s all I have to share with you guys today. I hope to read more classics this year, so far I think I’ve only read two, but I’ve still got plenty of time :). Have you guys read any of these books? What did you think of it? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa