Tag: magic

First Lines Friday – 20/01/23

Hello all welcome to today’s first lines Friday post to wrap-up the working week!

For today’s post, I intended to go a completely different way about choosing the book I feature in this post. Having read my last TBR Jar pick, The Secret History, it’s been on my mind that I needed to select another one. So, with that, in mind, I planned to pull my next book out of the TBR Jar and feature it in this post.

I’m really happy with the book that came out. It is a book that I have wanted to try because I have enjoyed other books by this author. My understanding of this book (and series) is that it is unconventional in its writing style. It is one that I have encountered in another book last year, and really enjoyed!

There was just one problem with my plan in including it in my first Lines Friday post – I’ve already featured it in this series before. What were the odds of that?! So, my plan went out the window. Instead, I have randomly selected a book on my Goodreads reading list.

Can you guess today’s book from the introduction?

 

Let me tell you the story of a righteous man.

The righteous man of the story is King Minos of Crete, who set out to wage a great war on Athens. His war was one of retribution upon them for the death of his son, Androgeos. This mighty athlete had reigned victorious in the city’s Panatheniac games, only to be torn to pieces by a rampaging ball on a lonely Athenian hillside. Minos held Athens responsible for the loss of his triumphing son and thirsted for blood-soaked punishment for their failure to protect the boy from the savage beast.

 

 

Ariadne – Jennifer Saint

Genre: Greek Mythology

Pages: 320

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: 04 May 2021

 

 

Goodreads – Ariadne

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice.

When Theseus, the Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?

Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne forges a new epic, one that puts the forgotten women of Greek mythology back at the heart of the story, as they strive for a better world.

 

My Thoughts…

After reading multiple books about mythology last year, in particular Greek mythology, I added a couple of Jennifer Saint’s books to my reading list. Ariadne was the first, but I also added Elektra at the same time.

The books I read last year that inspired these additions were Pandora’s Jar (Natalie Haynes), and The Silence of the Girls (Pat Barker). The latter of these two inspired me to read these new additions most. That book is all about women and their influence in Greek society, regardless of their roles – as prominent women or as slaves.

I really enjoyed diving into Greek mythology. I have read a few books about it in the past, but it’s a genre I haven’t really tapped into all that much. By picking up Ariadne, I hope to change that. In my experience, these books are also nice and light to read. The Greek gods are never ones to sit down and feast (at least for very long), so there’s always action. I can’t wait to try this new book from the genre I enjoy, by a new author!

Have you read Ariadne or Elektra by Jennifer Saint? Are you looking forward to the upcoming release of Atalanta? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J. K. Rowling

Hello everybody, and welcome to today’s book review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling.

I re-read the Harry Potter series in 2021/2022. It had been a long time since I read the series – in the case of the earlier books, I started those as a young teenager and read the series over the course of around six years. I wanted to revisit the books to see if my experience and perception of them changed by reading them as an adult.

If you have not read any of my previous reviews of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, you can find links to those reviews here.

Now, let’s jump into today’s review of the next book in the series!

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J. K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 636

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 08 Jul 2000

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

 

Goodreads – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can’t wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and there are spells to be learnt and (unluckily) Potions and Divination lessons to be attended. But Harry can’t know that the atmosphere is darkening around him, and his worst enemy is preparing a fate that it seems will be inescapable …With characteristic wit, fast-paced humour and marvellous emotional depth, J.K. Rowling has proved herself yet again to be a master story-teller.

 

My Thoughts

Plot

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has an interesting plot line. That’s not to say I don’t think it has its flaws, however. Installing a magical cup in the school and inviting those who think they are adept enough to take part in a dangerous tournament is one thing. Doing so around a community full of minors, well, can only go wrong somewhere. Especially when entering your name is a legally binding contract. It’s all a bit too convenient that Harry finds his name put forward.  

Despite this, it still makes for an interesting read. In particular, the tournament itself adds a lot of drama and action to the narrative. Its dramatic conclusion also adds to the book and the series as a whole. I’m not going to spoil it for you-you’ll have to read it yourself.

What I like about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is that we, break away from a narrative almost purely set in the usual school year cycle. We see wider plot development. We still have that familiarity of the school year, which comes to a conclusion with the Triwizard tournament. However, there is a lot more to this book, and plenty of it is quite sinister.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we are introduced to characters that come into this world and plot line later on. I would argue that in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we start to see this take shape.

 

Narrative Style

Despite being significantly larger than its predecessors, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire still retains the easy narrative style readers can come to expect.

You know me, I’m not one to shy away from a chunky book. I really hope that the length of this book doesn’t put potential readers off. It is not complicated. Even if you are less enthused by big narratives with wider story arcs, and lots of elements that will inevitably come together at the end, there isn’t so much going on that it will confuse you. Equally, there are little bits and pieces you can pick up in hindsight that hint to what happens later on.

Personally, I think the latter part of the series is quite well balanced in that it offers a little bit more than the first few books in the series (which are for the most part, comparatively superficial). This works perfectly well for people like me who grew up reading these books. At age 11, I wouldn’t have the reading capability to be able to take on these later tomes. Even so, going back and reading these later on has made me appreciate the later books in the series even more. They are more similar to my reading taste a an adult.

 

Characters

As with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we see a full new complement of characters introduced in this fourth book of the series. Some of these have a direct impact on the story, whereas others set the scene (for later books) and help develop the wizarding world in which these books are set.

I am a huge fan of world-building and the depth of detail that can be explored in these kind of books that fill out the whole story. Knowing everything from relatives of the main characters, down to the sports personalities, all comes together to make an immersive reading experience.

There are also a few introductions which will help us later in the series (particularly for the next book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). I think this is pulled off very well so as to not overwhelm, but it does make a difference when you read the next book. Understanding who everybody is and what their role is ahead of time is a big help! Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix is the chunkiest book in the series by far. If we’d had to go through all those introductions in that book as well, then it would be significantly larger!

 

Summary

Despite the slightly convenient plot line, I rated Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire five stars. If you enjoy fantasy series with darker elements to the story, or broad, overarching story lines that run throughout a series, stick with this one until you’ve read this fourth book. It’s at this point we really start to see this woven into the storyline.

Have you read any books from the Harry Potter series? Have you re-read it? Let me know in the comments.

 

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First Lines Friday – 30/12/2022

Hello all welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

For today’s post, I have been thinking about one of my reading goals for next year. I am conscious of the fact that I have a lot of ongoing book series at the moment. I want to reduce the number I’m reading at any one time. With that in mind, today’s featured book is a sequel to a series I started several years ago now.

Since reading that first book, I haven’t read or heard much of what the sequel is like. However, I really enjoyed the first book and so I want to give it a go anyway. If I enjoy as much as the first book, then there are more books to the series I can continue with. If not, then this is a series I can write off as one I’m not going to complete.

Would you like to read today’s featured introduction?

 

I try not to think of him.

But when I do, I hear the tides.

Baba was with me the first time I heard them.

The first time I felt them.

They called out to me like a lullaby, leading us away from the forest path and toward the sea. The ocean breeze ruffled the loose coils in my hair. Rays of sun spilled through the thinning leaves.

I didn’t know what we would find. What strange wonder that lullaby would hold. I just knew I had to get to it. It was like the tides held a missing piece of my soul.

 

 

Children of Virtue and Vengeance – Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 404

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co

Publication Date: 03 Dec 2019

 

 

Goodreads – Children of Virtue and Vengeance

After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.

Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath.

With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

 

My Thoughts…

I read the first book of the series, Children of Blood and Bone, back in April 2018. That is obviously a long time ago now, so the finer points of the plot our way back down in the depths of my brain. I am sure that when I pick up Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the pivotable aspects of the plot will come back to me. I am in a position where I have also reviewed the Children of Blood and Bone, I can always go back to that to get the gist of my thoughts.

I remember really enjoying this fantasy story, even though it is aimed at a younger audience than I. Based on the synopsis of today’s feature, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, there are aspects of conflict and politics that should come together to create the conflict in this book. Where this may surpass the first book is that I’m looking forward to seeing how the role of magic affects the events and dynamic of the book. These are aspects I really enjoy in my fantasy, so I’m optimistic that this book will also be a hit for me.

I’m really excited to dive into this series once again. Have you read Children of Blood and Bone or any other books by Tomi Adeyemi? If so, I’d love to know what you think!

 

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J. K. Rowling

Earlier this year I completed my re-read of the Harry Potter series. Now that I’ve made it through the books again, I’m making the effort to pin down my thoughts. Wher I can, I’ll consider my experience of the books compared to my initial read as a teenager. Before going into today’s review, if you would like to catch up with my reviews of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, here are the links to do so. 

Today I am reviewing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. If you are unfamiliar, this is the third book in the seven-part series. This is the book in which the plot really starts to hint at the metamorphosis the series will undergo later on, whilst still short and digestible for younger readers.

The plot has a darker element to the narrative, and some of the more sinister characters start to introduce themselves properly. The early books are quite lighthearted in introducing you to the wizarding world. By the time you’re done with the series, you have explored its darkest avenues.

I grew up with these books (literally). I started the early ones in my late childhood/early teenage years and read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as an adult. This is something I have really come to enjoy in the series.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J. K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 317

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 08 Jul 1999

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

 

Goodreads – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter, along with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, is about to start his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry can’t wait to get back to school after the summer holidays. (Who wouldn’t if they lived with the horrible Dursleys?) But when Harry gets to Hogwarts, the atmosphere is tense. There’s an escaped mass murderer on the loose, and the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been called in to guard the school…

 

My Thoughts

Plot

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban takes on a different tone compared with the first two books of the series. With a whole school year to pack into 300+ pages, you will not be bored making your way through this one. Whilst we are familiar with the school year and structure at this point, there are new and different things happening that keep the narrative fresh.

As I mentioned above, the more sinister aspects of the narrative really worked for me. Reviewing this in hindsight from the position of having read the whole series, this is one of the pivotal books in my opinion. Whilst short and sweet, it introduces characters such as the dementors, who go on to have a more significant role later on in the series.

 

Narrative Style

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a quick read. As this book is one of the last shorter ones of the series, it is still very approachable for the everyday reader. I managed to re-read this book in just over a week. And that is a very casual pace for me! Whether you are reading this book for the very first time or like me, going back into the series again, I don’t think it will disappoint. Even though the theme of the book is a shade darker than the previous two books of the series, it doesn’t detract from its readability whatsoever.

 

Characters

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we experience the narrative through the perspective of Harry Potter himself. Along the way our friends old and new. It is in this book that we are introduced to characters who are pivotal to the story later on in the book series.

The mix of familiarity combined with a touch of new makes the pace and introductions to new characters easy to follow. If there’s one thing I like about these books is that there aren’t so many characters that you can’t keep track. As somebody who read a lot of epic fantasy, this is something I find happens a lot. That is not the case in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

I really enjoyed my re-read of this book and the whole series!

Have you picked up Harry Potter for yourself? Is this something you want to read?

 

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First Lines Friday – 18/11/2022

Hello all welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! It’s the end of another working week! If you are counting down the hours until the weekend, then I hope I can distract you with a fun introduction to a book I’m looking forward to picking up. Maybe I can inspire you to pick it up this weekend?

In today’s First Lines Friday post, I decided to repeat my method of choosing today’s featured book as I did last time. To recap, I went to my Goodreads homepage and looked through the books on my feed until a familiar author or title caught my eye. Whereas in my last post, I stumbled across my feature quite quickly, this wasn’t the case this time. A little bit of scrolling later, however, a Goodreads friend of mine published a status update about a book she is re-reading, that is also on my TBR.

Here is today’s teaser introduction!

 

Perhaps it was a tired thing, all the references the world had already made to the Ptolemaic Royal library of Alexandria. History had proven the library to be endlessly fascinating as a subject, either because the obsession with what it might have contained was bound only by the imagination or because humanity longs for things most ardently as a collective. All men can love a forbidden thing, generally speaking, and in most cases knowledge is precisely that; lost knowledge, even more so.

 

 

The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 383

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Tor

Publication Date: 31 Jan 2015

 

 

Goodreads – The Atlas Six

The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…

– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.

– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.

– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.

– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.

– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.

 

My Thoughts…

Sharing this particular book as part of today’s First Lines Friday post may be quite timely. If you aren’t following this particular book or author, then you might not know that the sequel, The Atlas Paradox, was released at the end of last month.

I only discovered The Atlas Six fairly recently. It is one of the most recent books on my TBR, so it’s unlikely that I will be reading this any time soon! However, that’s not to say I am not excited to give it a go.

What interests me about this particular book is that it was initially self-published by the author. It has done so well that Tor has since signed the author and from there, it has been ‘traditionally published’.

If that doesn’t speak volumes, then I don’t know what will. I discovered this book through a fellow blogger (incidentally, the same Goodreads friend re-reading this at the moment). I believe she first read this whilst the book was self-published, and by all accounts, is enjoying her re-read right now.

I’ve just enjoyed another book with similar dark academia vibes. Throwing in some magic to the mix can only make this better in my opinion!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post. Have you read The Atlas Six, or the sequel, The Atlas Paradox? I’d love to chat about them if you have!

 

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, together with the rest of the series, holds a very special place in my heart. Firstly, I grew up with these books. I read them starting as a teenager through until becoming a newly minted adult and I loved these books! I enjoy how the story and complexity scales throughout the series. That worked really well with how I read them initially, and also how I ‘aged’ with them.

I wanted to re-read these books as an adult. Mainly, I wanted to see if my experience of the books differed now that I was reading them from a more mature perspective. For the most part, I can’t say that they did; I enjoyed them just as much as I did back then!

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 251

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 02 Jul 1998

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Ever since Harry Potter had come home for the summer, the Dursleys had been so mean and hideous that all Harry wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange impish creature who says that if Harry returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor and a spirit who haunts the girls’ bathroom. But then the real trouble begins – someone is turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself!

 

My Thoughts…

After the magic and drama of his first year at Hogwarts, you would think that going home for the summer would be a break for Harry. However, his aunt and uncle, and their son, treat him so awfully that he cannot wait to go back. Thankfully for us, it doesn’t take too long in the narrative and we get to dive into the magic and nostalgia of going to school very quickly.

This year is a little bit different, as they are no longer the newbies. However, the events that take place at the school or even stranger than the last. Students (and Mr Filch’s cat, Mrs Norris) are found petrified in school corridors. Tension rises and speculation begins on what is happening to them. Harry himself falls under suspicion. But, as we can only expect from these books, Harry ends up getting to the bottom of the matter. Not only that, but he finds himself in danger once again.

As with the first book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a very quick read. I enjoyed the pacing of the book. It is full of action to keep the narrative moving along, but at the same time, we still get to see world-building and character development. I prefer the books towards the end of the series because I enjoy depth and complexity in my fantasy books. However, the fact that this book doesn’t necessarily fit into this category didn’t matter at all. The fact is, I knew going into it that these early books set a lot of foundation for the later books.

Whilst we don’t necessarily realise that at the time, significant events in this book or the introduction to a wider storyline come into play later on. When I think about where these events begin, it is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that immediately comes to mind. 

Whilst there is a lot of controversy around J. K. Rowling, I would recommend these books to anyone wanting to start out with reading fantasy, or anyone wanting to read a series without too much mental commitment. These books are really easy to digest. They are the kind of books that you could always get more out of with the next re-read. Equally, you can take them as you read them first time. They have a lot to give, and it is a series that I will go back and read again and again throughout my lifetime, I am sure! I know one of my friends re-reads these books regularly!

Have you read the Harry Potter series? Have you not read them? Let me know what you think in the comments.

 

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Sunday Summary – 21st August 2022

Good evening everyone! It is the end of yet another week, and so it’s time to share all my updates in today’s Sunday Summary post. As always, I hope you’ve had a good week, whatever you have been up to!

It has been a fairly run-of-the-mill week here. My first blog post of the week was shared on Monday, and that was my blog tour review of The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. It was a pleasure to take part in the publication blog tour and I hope I have convinced somebody to pick up the book for themselves! If you haven’t heard about this epic fantasy yet, or you’re interested in my thoughts, you can check out my review with the link above.

Later in the week, it was the turn of my regular Shelf Control feature. This post went live on Friday (as usual), and this week’s feature is co-authored by father and son. Having read and enjoyed several books by Stephen King in the past, I can’t wait to see how his collaboration with his son compares. Maybe that’s enough for you to work out what book I have featured; if not and you’re curious, again, the link is above!

 

Books Read

In last week’s Sunday Summary post, I left off reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. I was just about halfway through this particular book.

As expected, it didn’t take me long to finish. I ended up finishing this on Tuesday and I’m really glad I read it. I would be lying if I said it didn’t inspire a lot of feminist rage. The whole point of the book is to highlight the ways in which women are inadvertently discriminated against/disadvantaged. It’s done more out of ignorance than malice, although I would say in some circumstances it is done knowingly; in some cases, the consequences of excluding women are unknown or not considered. Some of the points this book raised shocked me.

For example, car manufacturers don’t test female test dummies in the driver’s seat. Consequently, 47% of women are more likely to be seriously injured or die in a car accident. That’s just ridiculous, and something that could be very easily remedied.

This book covers a lot of topics, from medicine to the workplace, product design, and home life. It was really interesting to read, and I’m glad I picked it up!

Next, I decided to pick up Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I read his first book of the series, Red Rising, last year. I really enjoyed the blend of science-fiction and dystopian fiction, which carries through into the second book. The story has moved on quite significantly since its humble beginning. However, there are plenty of reminders throughout the narrative to refresh your memory.

It is also proving quite fast-paced. I only started this book on Thursday; in three days (excluding today as I haven’t read anything yet), I’m already over a third of the way in. There is lots of action to keep us engaged, and in this book, there is more emphasis on some political aspects in the book, which I’m enjoying. Also seeing a lot of the familiar characters slot into place, and I can’t wait to see how this narrative progresses.

I have also been good with keeping up with listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me this week. I can be a little bit hit and miss with audiobooks, but I’ve been making the habit of listening to them when commuting to and from work. In my last Sunday Summary update, I was around a quarter of the way through this audiobook. I have been consistent with pacing as I’m now about halfway through.

Personally, I slightly prefer listening to these books rather than reading them. They are not my favourite genre, but I wanted to read them to give myself the opportunity to branch out a little, and because I want to read Penelope’s and Eloise’s stories. These come later in the series, so I have to read the earlier books first.

If all continues as well as things are going so far, then I am of a mind to continue with the series. Maybe even beyond the character’s I’m interested in, but, we’ll see.

 

Books Discovered

This week, no news is good news. I’ve been adding more than enough books to my reading list of late. Thankfully, I haven’t found anything new that really catches my eye. Maybe this week I will be able to tick off more books from my reading list than I put on!

 

Coming Up…

Next week I have some very good posts lined up for you! On Tuesday, I’m going to be sharing yet another book review with you.

I have quite a lot of books that I have not yet reviewed, and with that in mind, I’ve put my thoughts together on The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I read this book earlier this year – in fact, I finished it the day Russia invaded Ukraine. The book is already about a difficult topic, but this made it all the more real. I can’t wait for that post to go live and tell you exactly what I thought about it!

Later in the week, my Friday feature is a First Lines Friday post. I am really happy with the book I will feature this week. It’s a book I have just received a copy of, and it’s a beautiful edition! Not only that, but I am excited about the topic and setting of this particular book. A BookTuber I follow really loved this book herself. I trust her opinion, so I am optimistic that I will love it just as much as she did!

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update! What are you reading this week? Do you have any recommendations for me? As always, I will be grateful to hear them!

 

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Book Review: The First Binding – R.R. Virdi

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s review of the most epic of epic fantasy novels, The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. Advertised as The Name of the Wind meets City of Brass, this book appealed to me instantly and I added it to my TBR back at the beginning of the year. As a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss and his The Name of the Wind series as a teenager, this book was full of promise… and a little touch of nostalgia.

And I got that from this book. The narrative style is just what I was looking for, and there’s even the odd little Easter egg that relates to the series if you can spot it.

I’m excited to share today’s review with you, which is just ahead of the publication of the book (18th August if you’d like to get yourself a copy). Before I get into sharing my thoughts on this book, I like to say a massive thank you to Gollancz for providing me with a copy of the book so I could read it and tell you all about it today. All the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and shared voluntarily. 

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 18 Aug 2022

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – The First Binding

All legends are born of truths. And just as much lies. These are mine. Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.

I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.

My name is Ari. And this is the story of how I let loose the first evil.

 

My Thoughts

Ari, known as The Storyteller, recounts his youth and introduction to the ten bindings all men must know. Written in the same vein as The Name of the Wind, fans of the series by Patrick Rothfuss will recognise and enjoy the narrative style. This is one of the primary reasons that I wanted to pick up this book for myself, and in every aspect, it didn’t disappoint!

Ari, aka ‘The Storyteller’ does not shy away from the dramatic. An expert narrator, he teases his audience and dabbles in anticipation to his audience. Slowly, his stories unravel in a way that steadily builds to a grand crescendo – it appeals to the audience. And with the very same craft and skill does R.R. Virdi tease Ari’s narrative across 800+ pages.

Capturing our attention from the opening lines, we go back to the very beginnings of Ari’s life as an abandoned child. From there we watch Ari advance in years and in his desire to learn about where he came from. Along the way, he encounters a vast array of characters. Not all of them are good. Not all of them are kind to him. Through sheer grit and determination, and with a few friendly faces to help him along, Ari struggles to find himself and his place in the world. He has no foundations from which to build, and so he is determined to make his own.

Epic in scope, and full of adventure, magic, and misdeeds, we reminisce on Ari’s early years. And the best thing is that this is just the beginning of the story. Of his story.

The First Binding is very well written. Full of in-depth and detailed world-building, with its own history and myths/legends, The First Binding is every bit as well developed as other popular and well-known fantasy series. In particular, I really enjoyed how the last chapter plays out, as we are almost taken back to the beginning. Almost. We have enjoyed this expansive journey with Ari, and yet the setting reminds us of where we humbly began. Consequently, it also inevitably leaves us wondering, what happens next?

Another point that really sold this book for me is how I enjoy magic systems in fantasy that have rules relating to the physical world. Authors such as Brandon Sanderson are favourites of mine because he also does the same thing.

This is also true to an extent in The First Binding. When magic takes place, things don’t just appear and disappear at will. The magic alters them in such a way that it changes their state, or where something is, for example. It is these same rules, rooted in science, that make the magic seem more plausible. They have limitations, meaning that any inconvenient plot point cannot just be made ‘right’ with magic. It must be a lot more difficult to employ a magic system that has such constraints, so I have a lot of respect for authors who are able to incorporate this, and well, and make the magic all the more believable!

Every good storyteller knows how to construct a cliffhanger, and R.R Virdi has done just that in The First Binding! I cannot wait for the sequel to see what happens next. Inevitably, there are still unresolved plot points that have not yet been explored in full detail (such as the ten bindings themselves – we only know eight of them). Some of these I expect to span over multiple books. As a huge fantasy fan, I really enjoy this depth and the promise of what is yet to come! 

Undeniably, The Fist Binding is one of my favourite reads of 2022, and I hope I have convinced you to pick this book up for yourself!

 

Author Bio

http://rrvirdi.com/about/

Sunday Summary – 14th August 2022

Happy Sunday evening everybody! If you are in the UK or British Isles, I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the lovely weather this weekend. It has been very warm even here, so I sympathise with everybody who’s had it hotter this weekend!

This week has been a good, productive one. I’ve been sticking to my goal of scheduling blog posts in advance, which I’m pleased about. I’ve finally managed to nail down a routine and a way of getting myself organised so I know exactly what I’m doing and when. And all it has taken is a week-to-week planner.

This week I have shared two posts with you. On Tuesday, I shared my 2022 New Releases I’m Excited About post. In the post, I talk about six books published in 2022 that I’m keen to pick up for myself. One of those books I’ve been reading this week. If you are interested or looking for something new to pick up for yourself, check out this post.

On Friday it was the turn of my regular First Lines Friday feature. In that post, I decided to feature this week‘s current read, and a book I feel passionately about. So much so the weekend isn’t even over yet and I’ve read half the book already!

 

Books Read

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was just over halfway through The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. If you follow my blog or have been following my recent posts, you will know that I have an upcoming blog tour post to share. In this post, I’ll be sharing my review of this book. Naturally, finishing reading it has been my number one priority for the week!

I’m pleased to say that I finished this epic fantasy on Friday night. I immediately started making some notes for my post, as this is going live tomorrow. The First Binding is one of my favourite reads of this year so far. Very epic in scope, the book is strongly reminiscent of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind series.

I personally really enjoyed this as a teenager, and the narrative style of The First Binding is very like it. The thing that excites me the most, however, is that The First Binding is just the beginning of Ari‘s story. I already can’t wait to pick up the sequel and the first book isn’t even technically out yet!

This weekend, I have been reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. I originally wanted to read this book last month, however I swapped in favour of Pandora’s Jar instead. As glad as I am that did that, I’m also happy that I have now picked up this book. I’ve only been reading it for a couple of days, and I’m already 170 pages in. I also plan to be making more progress with the book tonight, so I expect to finish this shortly.

What this book is very good at doing is exposing ways in which women are unwittingly disadvantaged. You would naturally think decisions are made based on gender-neutral data. More often than not, that is not the case. Any women who have used voice recognition technology have probably encountered difficulties using it. Men, on the other hand, experience significantly fewer problems.

You would think that all the background data used to build the technology would be neutral. But, data suggests that samples the technology learns from are biased 70% in favour of male voices compared to women. This is just one example, (and one that affects me every time I write a blog post, as I dictate them). There are many more examples in this book, and far more serious as opposed to just inconvenient.

I’ve really enjoyed the first half of this book so far and I’m looking forward to reading the rest imminently.

Lastly, I started listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn this week. I didn’t overly love reading the Duke and I, so I’ve decided to try this second book in audiobook format to see if it’s any easier.

I have already listened to just under 25% of the book this week. Whilst it still has its moments that induce serious eye-rolling on my part, I’m finding it easier to get through because I don’t have time to dwell on the parts that make me cringe. It is definitely working out more palatable so far, so I hope to make further progress with this book next week!

 

Books Discovered

I confess I have added one book to my reading list this week. I re-tweeted a post with a number of book recommendations that another reader has put together, as I really liked the idea.

One of those recommendations, based on the love of mythology, is The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec. Again, if you have been reading my blog of late, you will know that I have picked up Norse Mythology recently. I’ve had a bit of a rocky relationship with Neil Gaiman, but that’s a topic for another day. Despite this, I really enjoyed Norse Mythology and the snippets of stories included, with its vast array of characters.

One of the best known is the trickster Loki, and The Witch’s Heart is based significantly around the characters Angrboda and Loki, and their monstrous children.

I’m obviously really enjoying mythology at the moment, as I’ve also been picking up Greek mythology of late.

 

Coming Up…

Tomorrow I have my blog tour review of The First Binding by R.R. Virdi going live. I’ve been putting in a lot of effort into reading a book ahead of schedule, and I spent a good deal of time putting my thoughts together for that post. I really hope you can check it out and if you like the sound of the book, that it encourages you to get a copy for yourself. It was a really enjoyable read, and I can’t wait to pick up the sequel!

Later in the week, I am back with another Shelf Control feature on Friday. The next book on my TBR, featured in that post, is a book cowritten by a well-known author of his genre (horror), together with his son.

It also falls into a little bit of feminism, which is something I’ve been reading a bit around lately (I’m even reading about it now!). If you have heard of, or already read this book, you may have an idea of what I’m talking about. Otherwise, please check out that post on Friday so you can discover what it is!

And, as always, I’ll be back next Sunday with another Sunday Summary update post. I’ll discuss the books I’ve been reading, any I’ve added to my reading list, and lastly, let you know what’s coming up in the next week.

That’s all from me in Sunday Summary post. I’ve tried to get this drafted and live as soon as possible this evening. We have a slim chance of thunderstorms tonight. Whilst I would like to say I’m been noble in making sure you’re not missing out on my post, the truth is if we do get storms, I want to watch! My plan is to get more reading of Invisible Women done tonight, but if there are storms then productivity is going out of the window!

What have you read lately? Do you have any book recommendations to share?

 

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Sunday Summary – 7th August 2022

It’s Sunday night again and that can only mean one thing… it’s time for a Sunday Summary update! Have you had a good week? This week I’ve pushed the boat out and shared three posts with you as opposed to my usual two.

Earlier in the week, I shared my Monthly Wrap-Up for July. I had prepared most of this post last week, but I promptly added the last reading updates on Monday night, ready for this post to be published on Tuesday.

On Thursday I shared an additional post. I signed up to review A Feast of Phantoms by Kat Ross, and Thursday was my deadline for the review. I prepared it a little bit in advance and I had already shared my review on Goodreads and Amazon. However, Thursday was the day it went live on my blog.

On Friday, I shared my August TBR with you. I’m really excited to be taking part in a readathon for the very first time, and I have set myself an ambitious list for this month. It features two 800+ fantasy books, another Greek mythology retelling, as well as non-fiction, a dystopian science-fiction novel and lastly, a romance audiobook. If you’re interested in what I’m reading this month, you can check out that post using the link above.

 

Books Read

I have only had one reading goal this week, and that is to get through as much of The First Binding as possible.

I am really enjoying this epic fantasy. Other readers are not lying when they say it is very heavily influenced by Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. I loved that book/series as a teenager, and so going back to that narrative style is working really well for me.

I started the book at the beginning of this week, and I am just over 500 pages into this 817-page epic. As mentioned in my August TBR post, I am reviewing this book very soon as part of the publication tour. Understandably, that is why this is the first book on my list, and also my top priority at the moment. I’m well on track to finish this book this week with time to spare to draft my review. I am really enjoying it so far, and I can’t wait to share my full review with you the week after next.

 

Books Discovered

I confess that I have added three books to my TBR this week.

The first book I have added is one that I am expecting a physical copy of in the near future. I recently signed up for the Illumicrate book-only subscription box, and the book I am due to receive is Babel by R. F. Kuang. Another reader who I trust has recently read and adored Babel, so I’m looking forward to receiving my copy soon.

Inspired by my upcoming 2022 New Releases I’m Excited About post, I have added two Greek mythology retelling books to my list. One of these books features on the 2022 post, however the other is a slightly older book by the same author that I can’t wait to pick up! Ariadne and Elektra are well-known books in the genre. Having recently read and enjoyed Pandora’s Jar, I am enjoying picking up books of this nature. Much like Pandora’s Jar, these stories focus on female characters of Greek Mythology. It’s a perspective I am really enjoying and want to read more of.

 

Coming Up…

I have prepared a couple of blog posts ready for you next week, in addition to my usual Sunday Summary update.

At the beginning of the week, I am sharing the previously mentioned 2022 New Releases I’m Excited About post. In that post, I discuss six new releases, published this year, that I can’t wait to read. I already own copies of some of these books (and I might just be reading one of them right now). The books featured are from a wide variety of genres, so if you’re looking for your next new release to read, check out my post on Tuesday.

Later in the week, I am going back to my regular First Lines Friday feature. In that post, I’m talking about a book I plan to read later this month. With any luck, I have a lot to learn from this book and can go on to raise awareness of the issues it highlights.

I had planned to read this book last month, but ended up setting aside in favour of Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and I hope you like the sound of it based on the introduction.

And, as always, I’ll be back next Sunday to share all my reading updates with you.

That’s all from me in Sunday Summary post. What have you read lately? Do you have any book recommendations to share?

 

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