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My Favourite Fantasy Books Over The Decade!

Sunday, 24 May 2020
So I've been book blogging since I was 12. Blogging, in general, for even longer than that but this book blog? It's coming up on TEN WHOLE YEARS!! In honour of this, I thought I'd take a look back at all my favourite fantasy books from over the last decade.

**Lil disclaimer: the following books have not necessarily been published in the last decade, just that I have read/loved them during this time!**

 
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

No need for an introduction here...

Okay, I'M SORRY! I told myself I wasn't going to do it; told myself I really, really, really didn't need to include Harry Potter (because everyone knows your love for it already, Rachel, so enough!!) but I JUST COULDN'T DO IT! I owe a lot to these books for many (MANY) different reasons but one is most assuredly for opening my heart up to the fantasy/magical genre. I mean, just looking for this gif and thinking about these books nearly made me cry and then want to re-read them (for the MILLIONTH time!!) so if that doesn't show you the extent of my love for this series, I don't know what will. But okay, okay, I'm done, let's move on!

Inkworld Series by Cornelia Funke

12 year-old Meggie lives with her father, Mortimer, a bookbinder. Mo never reads stories aloud to Meggie because he has a special gift: when he reads a book aloud, the characters come out of the book and into the real world...

I can not begin to describe to you how much I loved these books. They just completely enraptured me at the time I read them and the whole storyline just full-on captured (*ahem*CLUNG ON TO*ahem*) my imagination. I LOVED them. I also loved the movie of the same name, which starred Brendan Fraser. I'm mildly obsessed with Brendan Fraser (especially his old movies) and, in all honestly, I think it's because he was in the movie adaptation of this book.


Please, just read these books. Then watch the movie. I feel like they deserve way more hype!!

 
The Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar

...when a violent storm hits and Maya's parents are washed overboard, life becomes anything but normal. The children manage to steer the boat toward a mysterious island, to a place that doesn't exist on a map.

Welcome to Tamarind, where fish can fly, pirates patrol the waters, jaguars lurk, the islanders are at war, and an evil, child-stealing enchantress rules the jungle.

Okay, if you (or your niece, nephew, daughter, son etc) are looking for an extremely enchanting and magical read, make it this one. I honestly feel like everyone should read this book. It just has one of the most vividly fantastical settings I've ever come across and it makes me so nostalgic. I adored it with my whole heart and it is so special to me, I've never parted with my bruised, battered and well-loved copy.

 
The Dragonfly Pool, Journey to the River Sea and The Star of Kazan, all by Eva Ibbotson
 
To read the synopsis of The Dragonfly Pool, click HERE, Journey to the River Sea, click HERE, and The Star of Kazan, click HERE (please do, you will fall in love!)

Now I really don't know if these even count as fantasy, but I just don't care - they gave me the most magical feeling whilst reading them. These three, specifically, are my favourites of Ibbotson's. All three are standalones and all three are just... mesmerising. Three equally magical tales to go with three equally magical book covers. Again, these are books very close to my heart. Gift them to your children, to yourself, to your 80 year old neighbour, it doesn't matter, just read them!
 
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

So it goes without saying I am a hard-core fan of this series over Clare's Mortal Instruments one. Yes, I still enjoyed TMI but nowhere near as much as The Infernal Devices. I fell completely head over heels in love with the characters and their relationships in this series and there was honestly a time, they were all I could think about. I've not actually read any of Cassandra Clare's other/more recent series' set in the Shadowhunter world yet - I think I'm just scared they'll never live up to this one! So please tell me if I should!

 
The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove
 
Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods...

I'm only giving little snippets of synopsis' so this post isn't too long but honestly, go look this one up! The world in this book was unlike anything I'd ever come across - so unique and well-developed and insane. I loved every minute of reading this book and it's another one I'd really recommend people gave a shot - it deserves so much more hype!

 
A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
 
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest.
 
Now on to my more recent favourites... This series is one of my all-time favourites just now. I loved everything about it. The concept, the world, the characters, the ROMANCE, the intensity... Everything! I'd go so far as to say this series - JUST NOW - is probably my absolute favourite. So no pressure if you haven't read it yet y'know... *eyeballs*

 
Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales...
 
Another one of my top favourite series just now. This one was just so beautifully crafted with such fascinating, amazing characters and beautiful, poignant story arcs. I ended up marathoning the whole trilogy in one go and just falling in love.

 
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

...when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real.

My latest read and one of my new top favourites. I've just started reading the second book in this trilogy (book three isn't out until June!) so can't yet say if it's one of my favourite fantasy series of all time but I do have a very good feeling... Not to jinx it! Anyway, the world and story in this book is one of the most rich and vibrant I've ever come across and I was pretty much hook, line and sinker within 10 pages... I've just recently reviewed this one so if you want to know more of my thoughts, simply scroll down!

Of course, I'm hoping to be adding to this list as the year goes on, but I'll keep you all updated!

Until next time,
Happy reading!

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree or disagree with me? What are your top fantasy picks from the past decade?

Book Review: The City of Brass

Friday, 22 May 2020
Author:
Edition: HarperVoyager eBook
Released: 14th November 2017
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #1
Pages: 521 approx.
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book!

Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.

But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust.

Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there’s nothing magical about them. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…

Be careful what you wish for.

I ADORED this book! Honestly, I'd brace yourselves for a gushy, nonsensical post instead of a review because SULEIMAN'S EYE, I have a lot of feelings!!

Literally within a handful of pages, the world in this book completely swept me up; the richness and vibrancy of Nahri's world jumping straight off the page and wholly enveloping me. And this entrancement only continued to deepen as the characters journeyed further and travelled to different places. I could honestly picture the gorgeous land and city-scapes Chakraborty was painting so vividly in my head. I felt like I could feel the buzz of the busy market, smell the food Nahri ate, swim in the vertical waterfall... It's been so long since I've been mesmerised by a fictional world like this one. And I LOVED it. It reminded me why I love reading so much.

The 'court' politics in this novel has a complexity to it that even I - who read a lot of fantasy - don't come across that much. It was just so unbelievably complex and multi-faceted. So many factions and beliefs warring with each other. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have to pay very close attention to the politics and, even then, was still, at times, confused and having to remind myself so and so don't agree with so and so but tolerate so and so... and so on. However, I love complexity in my fantasy novels and am just putting this hiccup down to the fact I've not read as much 'high' fantasy as of late. I'll be an expert for book two! I love this book too much not to be!

Now, the characters. One word: DARA. I honestly love him with my whole heart. I think he's one of my new favourite characters - scratch that, I KNOW he is. I just loved him on the page, loved his interactions with Nahri... He made me laugh as well, which isn't that common an occurrence. Like, I actually laughed out loud at some of the stuff he done. Namely:

Ali drew up, looking indignant. “You should not be here, Afshin. The Banu Nahida’s time is precious. Only those who are ill or injured—”

Dara abruptly raised a fist and then smashed it through the heavy, sandblasted glass table. The top shattered, sparkling shards of hazy glass cascading over the Afshin and the floor. He didn’t even flinch; instead, he raised his hand and looked at the jagged pieces of glass embedded in his skin with mock surprise. “There,” he deadpanned. “I’m injured.”

This may have been the moment I realised just how much I love his character. But what I love most of all about Chakraborty's characters is how each one is intrinsically flawed in some way. Like none of them come across as perfect or even close to it. They've all got their own flaws, which just makes them all the more dimensional and lovable and yes, I'll go ahead and say it, frustrating! But there's nothing I love more than flawed characters - they're relatable, they provoke reaction and there's room for them to grow. Nahri, herself, is a head-strong, powerful lead but by no means is she perfect. Ali is rash and direct and infuriating but I still wouldn't want the story without him. Same goes for them all. But, Dara, I just love him. Nahri's up there too but my Suleiman, do I just love that stubborn Daeva.

Overall, I loved pretty much everything The City of Brass had to offer. From the enchanting, vibrant world to the astoundingly complex court politics to the wide range of flawed, lovable characters. The novel was pretty much my token-perfect fantasy read. The only thing I could mildly say about it was that sometimes the politics confused me but, other than that, nothing. And even then, I just want to go back and reread those parts to make sure I've fully absorbed all that I can. I'll be picking up book two, hopefully, very soon! I implore you to read this - especially fans of rich, complex fantasy.

FOUR AND A HALF/FIVE STARS!!

Have you read this book - what did you think? What are some of your favourite books with vast and complex worlds and court politics? Your favourite flawed characters?

Book Review: When Wishes Bleed

Thursday, 21 May 2020
Author: Casey L. Bond
Edition: Independently-published eBook
Released: 30th October 2019
Series: When Wishes Bleed #1
Pages: 462 approx.
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book!

One Prince. One Witch. One Fate. The upheaval in my life began the moment a prince stumbled into my house and asked me to read his fortune. Any other night, I might have made an excuse to get him to leave, but this was no normal visit. My fingers prickled to touch him. So, I granted his request by handing him a single wishbone. When he snapped it, the wish … bled.

Hearing me suck in a shocked breath, he asked what it meant. Such an ominous omen could only mean one thing: his death was imminent. Fate revealed that he wouldn’t die of natural causes. Someone wanted him dead. Stunned by the revelation, the man I now knew as Prince Tauren disappeared into a night I feared he wouldn’t survive. The following day, I received an invitation to the castle. While it seemed the prince believed I could intervene and uncover who was plotting his death, his motives didn’t stop there. I was being summoned to join twelve other women in vying for the opportunity to be his wife and future queen.

Going could mean jeopardizing my plans to reclaim my heritage and resurrect the House of Fate. But staying would guarantee Tauren’s death, and the blood of his wish would be on my hands.

Okay, so in true quarantine style, I finally bought myself a kindle. And, honestly? I love it. I really can't believe it took me this long to get one... Anyway, whilst setting up my new, snazzy kindle, I discovered kindle unlimited. Immediately reeled in by the prospect of a free kindle unlimited subscription for two months (for being a student), I signed up. This title I came across not long after and the synopsis just drew me in. So began my first kindle unlimited experience.

Overall? I’m really not sure what I think about this book. When Wishes Bleed probably has some of the darkest, most intriguing opening chapters I've ever read. Straight away, our main character brings us into the centre of a, seemingly, very dark and complex world - introducing us to the unusual ways and witches of the 'Gallows.' Even her narration depicts a very unusual character in very unique circumstances. However, the more this book went on, the more I couldn't settle.

The magic system and set up of the witches is, indeed, a very unique breath of fresh air, yet I would be lying if I said I wasn’t also initially drawn in by the idea of a ‘Selection’ type competition to be the prince’s bride. However, unfortunately, it fell short for me on that one because of the almost instant insta-love. My ultimate pet hate. Insta-lust? I get that. Sometimes. Insta-love? I just don’t think I’ll ever be a fan of that. I‘m a sucker for a well-developed, angsty romance, so the fact the relationship in this novel got way too intense too fast just deflated me a bit. Especially since I really liked the set up of Sable’s first meeting with the love interest and also the love interest, himself. He really could have been that typical broody, enigmatic love interest that I love. There was just so much potential for him, as well as a very angsty, slow burn relationship and that just wasn't delivered.

Technically-speaking, there were also a few things that didn't sit right with me. For example, there were a lot of characters walking out and back in, out and back in, in scenes and a lot of repeated actions such as ‘hooking their thumb over their shoulder.’ It just made my reading experience feel a bit choppy, making me feel detached from the story. I also felt that there were some plot devices and decisions from the characters that made no sense to the plotline. The ending also just came across as sporadic and random.

I still stick by the idea that the concept and magic system of this story were very unique. It just ended up being a situation where the potential outweighed the actual, final product. The story just wasn't for me, in the end up. By all means, if the synopsis intrigues you, you're a fan of dark premises and witches and you have a kindle unlimited subscription, go ahead. You might have better luck. 


TWO STARS!

Have you read this book - what did you think? What is your experience with kindle unlimited like so far? Are there any books you've read where you fell in love with the potential more than the story?

I'M BACK!! Catch Up & My Life in Books Book Tag!

Tuesday, 19 May 2020
 
Well, ehm, hi, hello. *waves awkwardly*

I would introduce myself but as it is, I'm the same Rachel who started this blog ten years ago... Oh hell, I'll reintroduce myself anyway. HI AGAIN! I'm Rachel and I'M BACK!! You may or may not remember this blog. After all, I have changed the name and the whole layout etc. Once upon a time, this was a preteen/YA book blog called Booktastic Reviews. Well *ahem* now it's had a whole, snazzy makeover (which I have spent DAYS fretting over because I am now SO FAR BEHIND on how this modern blogging and book blogosphere work!!) *cries* So please feel free to tell me I'm doing okay for being the archaic blogger I now have to admit to myself I am! Also, whilst on the topic of archaic, I am now no longer 11 or 16 or even 18. I'm now 22 whole years old, some say a fully fledged adult - I'm not quite sure I would agree but, yes, I am now a whole lot older.

ANYWAY, now this blog will be going by the name Pages & Pinnacles! If you would like a full explanation as to why, you can check out my new snazzy 'About' page above. While you're at it, feel free to browse all my different pages... I am so fascinated you can now do drop down lists! Basically, it's now called this because I would like to write some posts outside of just books - namely my adventures hill and mountain climbing in and around the Scottish Highlands. However, I will still be talking a lot about books - with a heavy focus still on Young Adult but also now branching into New Adult and, honestly, whatever else I fancy! But, as I've said, just check out my new pages above for more info!

Okay, now on to the tag! It would be pretty boring if this was just a simple catch up (remember me!!) post so what better way to reacquaint my self with the book blogosphere and also reintroduce my reading tastes to you all than with a book tag! Also, they're just fun to do! This one is called My Life in Books and I managed to trace it back to THIS blog. So, here we go!

MY LIFE IN BOOKS BOOK TAG


Find a book for each letter of your initials.

I guess I've just to go off my own book shelves? In which case:


What can I say about these books? I read Bardugo's Grisha trilogy a long time ago and really enjoyed it, I think I see a reread coming soon. I absolutely LOVED the A Court of Thorns and Roses series! ACoTaR over Throne of Glass any day! ;) Eva Ibbotson's books also pretty much defined my childhood, I love them.

Count your age along your bookshelf, what book is it?

Not really a book, as such, but a play - Othello by William Shakespeare. Pretty sure I studied it both at school and university.

Pick a book set in your city/country.

 
Bonnie Scotland, of course. This is a lovely fantastical, fairytale-esque tale where two modern day American girls are transported back in time in Scotland (very close by where I live actually). Loosely based on the musical Brigadoon.

Pick a book in your favourite colour.
 
 
Honestly, any excuse to mention one of my absolute favourite childhood books, The Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar. Ahh, I'm so nostalgic. My fave colours are blue and green (turquoise specifically) and this book has all the gorgeous shades of them.
 
Pick a book set in a place you would love to visit.
 

I have two for this one. Narnia doesn't really need any explanation, surely? Again, another extremely nostalgic pick for me. I am obsessed with everything Narnia and would genuinely watch and rewatch the movies EVERY day if I could. WHEN IS THE NETFLIX SERIES COMING OUT?!? My other pick is actually my current read right now. The world in this book is so rich and vibrant and I'd just love to see it in person.

What book do you have fond memories of?
 
Oh, ehm, ahhhh. I've already used Eva Ibbotson's books, Narnia and The Lost Island of Tamarind. I'm afraid I'm probably left with Harry Potter but, really, can that ever be raved about enough? I think not. That series and what it did to utterly enthral readers of ALL ages is honestly amazing and the world will NEVER get old.

What book did you have the most difficulty reading?
 
 
I can't lie, I really struggle with classics. I don't want to give up on them but I really struggle to get into the writing style - please, if you have any recommendations, tell me!

Which book in your TBR will give you the greatest sense of accomplishment once read?
 
 
Well, that's all folks! If you would like to do this tag, go ahead - I officially tag you! It was a lot of fun. I am so excited to be back and, hopefully, connect with everyone again! Until next time...
 
Happy Reading!

summer '17 in pictures; berlin, germany

Sunday, 17 December 2017
// the berlin cathedral //

// caught taking snaps //
 
// the backside view of the cathedral // a lazy canal //
 
// erin snapped on her phone amidst insane artwork // 

// fuck wars //

// tourist //
 
// I just love these colours //

// spot the veggie // and the strawberry beer //
 
// freedom //

// the first hostel we stayed in on our travels // my first hostel ever //

// kiss kiss // iconic

berlin was a wonderful and vibrant city; I absolutely loved my time there and whole-heartedly encourage those of you who have never been but are intrigued by the city to go. my cousin and I went in the beginning-middle of june, the weather was supreme and one of the best moments of the entire trip for me was lazing about under a museum's awning perpendicular to the breath-taking berlin cathedral. looking out over the grounds, dozing, people-watching, examining maps of the city, just taking a moment to breathe in front of the majestic sight of the building, stretched out on my back, head propped up by my backpack, gave me indescribable feelings of contentment and joy. we would also stumble upon incredibly cool artwork hidden down many alleyways of the city as we were exploring, and the berlin wall artwork was just as worth seeing as is expected. unfortunately, even in berlin, I'm still not a fan of beer, it's just... yucky. I gave it my best try, but even a strawberry flavoured brand didn't sway me. my first experience of a hostel was also pretty good, my roommates were from all over and could chat away about their travels, and one guy was especially charming, offering us cheese he'd picked up on the road and inviting us out with him and his friends at night. we couldn't go one night and woke up to find him passed out on his bed next to us the next day with a feather boa wrapped around his neck, feathers strewn about the room. I'm just guessing here, but he probably had a pretty amazing night.
 

-- go confidently in the direction of your dreams --

- rachel

**all these pictures are either mine or my cousin's, therefore ownership is claimed**