Tag: R. R. Virdi

Monthly Wrap-Up – August 2022

I can’t believe I’m drafting my end of August wrap-up already. This year seems to be absolutely flying by, as they always seem to do!

This month I took part in a readathon for the very first time. It has been a great way of setting myself a challenge. For the last year or so I have been gradually stepping up my reading again, after stepping back from a ridiculous personal best. I have enjoyed having the challenge – although it has been a challenge! Not only did I have an ample reading list for the readathon, but I also wanted to pick up an additional book for a personal goal I have set myself – reading more non-fiction.

Let’s dive into what I have been reading this month!

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 16 Aug 2022

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – The First Binding

The first book I picked up this month was The First Binding by R.R.Virdi. This book came with its own challenge of itself, as I had to read the book and publish my review in just over two weeks. It meant I had a lot of reading to do as it’s a chunky book – at least 70 pages a day – to be able to complete this goal. I’m pleased to say I was able to keep relatively on track, and just pipped my goal at the end. It was a pleasure to read, although it might have been just a little bit nicer if I hadn’t had the time pressure. Still, I’m really glad to have taken part in the publication blog tour.

If you haven’t checked out that post already, here is a link for you to do so!

 

Invisible Women

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 411

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Abram’s Press

Publication Date: 12 Mar 2019

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Invisible Women

Next, I decided to read Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. This is the non-fiction read that I decided to pick up in addition to magical readathon.

It didn’t fit any of the prompts in any way, shape, or form. But, I was meant to read this last month and I ended up swapping it out last minute on a whim. I’m really glad I picked this book up anyway. It was a fantastic and enlightening read, even if some of the subjects really made my blood boil.

And that they did! What this book is really good at doing is highlighting the ways in which we think gender is treated equally, when in fact, that is far from the case! If that sounds like something you’re interested in then I would strongly recommend picking up this book.

 

Golden Son

Genre: Science fiction

Pages: 442

Audience: YA / Adult

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication Date: 08 Jan 2015

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Golden Son

My next read was Golden Son by Pierce Brown.

This book fit the prompt of a book set in the future, although how far in the future isn’t really quantified. We know it is set in the future as it is set in a time when the human race has colonised space. The first book is set on Mars, and is a very interesting dystopian science fiction. Having read and enjoyed that book last year, I couldn’t wait to pick up sequel. That it fit this reading prompt was the perfect opportunity to pick it up.

I started off quite well with this book, although I will admit I hit a bit of a wall at around 70%. I did manage to finish this book on the very last day of the month, and it did improve at the end. My problem with it was there was an awful lot going on. By the time we got to 70%, the thrill of the action had worn off.

We’d been on the throttle for the majority of the book and I lost a bit of steam with it. To combat that, I ended up taking a short break from it to read another book, and going back to it was absolutely fine.

 

The Silence of the Girls

Genre: Historical fiction / Greek Mythology

Pages: 325

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 02 May 2019

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads – The Silence of the Girls

To break up Golden Son, I decided to pick up The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. This was already on my TBR, however, I needed a change of setting and pace.

The book is also a quick read at 325 pages. I first picked this up on the last Saturday of the month, and I read it within about four days.

I really enjoyed the change of perspective. If you are not familiar with The Silence of the Girls, it is a Greek mythology book set during the Trojan war. What sets it apart from other narratives, however, is that it focuses on the lives of women in the war camp as opposed to the men. Instead of brave, fearless warriors, the men are talked about as husbands, brothers and sons. In a way, it de-glamorises war and hits home the devastation that it causes.

The lives of women in war are often overlooked, but The Silence of the Girls does its bit to change that. The lives the women have are harrowing. Briseis and the other women’s experiences are not made out to be tragic, exceptional circumstances – it’s commonplace. Rather, all women in the camp experience the same thing, if not worse.

Despite the subject matter and the treatment of the characters, I really enjoyed this book. It was a great palate cleanser and it was just what I needed. I’m glad I finally got to it!

 

The Viscount Who Loved Me

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 354

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Avon

Publication Date: 05 Dec 2000

Rating: TBC

 

Goodreads – The Viscount Who Loved Me

This month I decided to listen to The Viscount Who Loved Me. I read the first Bridgerton book, the Duke and I, back in May this year. It ended up being a fairly average read. However, I am really interested in the character stories for Eloise and Penelope.

As we are some time away in the Netflix series (at least Eloise), I wanted to try to continue with the books. A way of compromising between my enjoyment of the Netflix series, but my reservation about the books was to try it in audiobook format. This turns out to have worked pretty well overall.

If I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of the ‘hate-to-love’ trope present in this book. I don’t understand it. For me, it is a very extreme thing to hate somebody. If you get so far as to hate somebody, then nothing they can do will redeem themselves. Maybe that says more about me. In my opinion, this isn’t a ‘hate-to-love’ relationship – it is at best ‘dislike-to-love’.

I also had to skip a very cringey scene because I just couldn’t listen to it. However, I have been able to continue with it and I am still listening to it now. I have just a few hours left.

Whilst I still have my gripes about the series in general (for example the inequality in behaviour between men and women, the romanticising of men behaving badly to name just a couple of examples), it is a lot more palatable in audio format. I was finding with reading the books that I sometimes struggled to get past sections of the narrative that I had serious gripes with. However, instead of re-reading and rolling my eyes into the back of my head, I had to let that frustration go and keep my attention on the narrative, otherwise I would get lost. As a result of fewer interruptions, I’ve been able to get on with this a lot better.

It still isn’t going to be my favourite series in the whole wide world. It never was. But, I think I can continue with the series to at least get out of it what I want.

 

Assassin’s Quest

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get to Assassin’s Quest in August.

I had an ambitious TBR, even though it was only five books; two of the books are over 800 pages (Assassin‘s Quest being one of them). I also suffered a little bit with hitting a brick wall with Golden Son. Even so, I wouldn’t have finished Assassin‘s Quest in any case.

Given that I have a manic TBR for September (check out tomorrow’s post to see why!), I’ve decided to postpone picking up Assassin‘s Quest. I won’t be doing myself any favours picking this up now, even though I want to.

Instead, I think I will leave it until October to try and read.

That’s it for my monthly wrap-up. Have you read any of the books in today’s monthly wrap-up post? What have you been reading? I’d love to know in the comments!

 

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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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