Six Fantasy Favourites

One of my favourite genres has to be fantasy. There’s nothing like escaping to a world completely different from your own for a couple of hours. I thought I’d share my favourites with you.

1. The Study Series – Maria Snyder

Originally a trilogy, Maria recently expanded with another three books. Yelena, next in line to be executed, is recruited to become the Commander of Ixia’s poison taster. It’s an excellent series with the most perfect characters – with many strong friendships that are just as important to the story as the romance. The magic is subtle, the writing style makes for easy reading and there has to be a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter!

2. The Black Magician Trilogy – Trudi Canavan

I adore this series very much. Sonea lives in the slums but finds out she has magical ability so is allowed to attend The Magician’s Guild which is normally restricted to the upper classes. I love how Sonea handles those that bully her, the friendship she has with her magician mentor, and how she learns that not all magicians are terrible. The characters of Cery and Dannyl, though very different, provide amazing different points of view.

3. Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue – Kristin Cashore

Three novels that form a trilogy (though they can be read as standalones), all with strong female lead characters. I love every romance in this series and how each of them develops. I also love the self-sacrifice of the main characters, the way they learn about themselves and really develop into amazing women. Katsa (from Graceling) and Fire (from Fire) are two of my favourite characters ever.

4. His Fair Assassin Series – Robin Lafevers

These three books make the list because each has a different protagonist, all of whom have a very different voice. I was very impressed with how Robin managed to make all three girls sound different and rounded, whilst making each book build on the next. I love how each of the girls learns to interpret what they’ve been taught to believe in there own way. Annith’s story in Mortal Heart was particularly heartwarming. There will be a fourth book in 2019 – I can’t wait!

5. Uprooted – Naomi Novik

I loved this story – especially the main character, Agnieszka. She’s really clumsy and not at all like her best friend Kasia, but her loyalty to her friend is great to see. I love how the story explores that appearances can be deceiving, especially when it comes to wizard ‘the Dragon’. The writing has a fairytale-like style that really makes it a stunning read (much like The Bear and the Nightingale).

Song of the Lioness Quartet – Tamora Pierce

80s YA is excellent – but this series is ahead of its time. Feminist and gripping, I adored Alanna as a character. I wish I’d read them in my teens – so glad my other half (who is called Daniel) mentioned them to me after he heard about them in a podcast. They’re fast paced, easy to read and cover a long period of time. I really should read Tamora’s other books!

What are your favourite fantasy reads? I’d love to know!

Puig de Massanella – My First Summit

17th April 2018, a few days into a holiday in Mallorca. The day of my first mountain summit. Puig de Massanella, 1364m, the second highest on the island, the highest accessible to the public.

Starting at CΓΊber, a reservoir surrounded by fantastic scenery, I didn’t quite know what to expect. But I had my trusty boots and trekking poles, and my other half (aka the navigator).

First was a nice, flat amble alongside an aqueduct with some pretty views of the reservoir and surrounding mountains.

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Then we entered a forest, beginning the ascent. Here the trees provided some much needed shade. We crossed a group of older people, all kitted out with their trekking poles. We passed each other many times on our ascent to the viewpoint below the scramble to the summit. They were so happy – and it was amazing to see people as old as my grandparents climbing the same hills as I was. If I can do that when I’m that old, I’ll be very happy!

At that point my calves began to really hurt with each step, but my other half thought to tighten my boots and that seemed to keep the pain at bay. The hike was beginning to feel long, and we hadn’t even exited the forest yet! At this point, I began thinking there was no way I’d make it to the top (my uphill walking fitness is pretty rubbish haha).

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After a lunch of trail mix (ours has cashews, raisins, dried cranberries and apricots), we finally left the forest and could see the peaks before us. A rocky path would lead us upwards – at times we lost it and had to clamber over some bigger rocks to get back on the right track.

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Finally, we reached the view point – the clear skies allowing us to see all the way to Menorca. And we again met the older people, who had finished their ascent and were enjoying a nice lunch. At that point we had to decide if we’d carry on to the summit. Me, being inexperienced, didn’t quite realise how much scrambling that would require. But I’d come this far – and really wanted to reach my first mountain summit!

So off we went, beginning the climb. I hadn’t scrambled anywhere near as far before. It was actually quite scary, and my thighs ached with every step upwards. But I saw many people passing us on their way down, and knew if they could do it then so could I. Someone was even hiking in a long skirt!

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We made it to the summit plateau, and hiked across to the summit, almost at our end point. We crossed paths with lots of goats (how I wish I had the agility of a goat!). My other half captured a great video of one making a very human like noise! Then came the last bit of scrambling, and there I was, at the summit of a mountain higher than any in the UK. I could see all of Mallorca from up there.

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All that was left was the descent. The downhill scramble was difficult and challenging – sometimes even scary. But the views were stunning and we made it down to the path in good time. Back through the forest and back along the aqueduct, we made it back to our trusty rental car where we found a few donkeys!

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It was an exhausting day with over 10 hours of walking, but I’ll always remember how it felt to reach my first summit!

I really appreciated my Osprey pack – very comfortable, my hydration bladder (so much easier than getting out a water bottle) and of course my trekking poles.

Here’s to many more mountains in the future – I will not linger only in the foothills anymore!

Rebecca.

The Illuminae Files

Hi everyone!

So here goes my first book review – or series review for that matter! On my recent holiday to Mallorca I decided to download The Illuminae Files trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, having loved Kristoff’s Nevernight.

I’d been meaning to give it a go for quite a while but the format – a collection of instant messages, descriptions of video footage and journal entries etc. made me a bit sceptical. How I was wrong! The format did make it a little difficult to read on Kindle – I had to change the font size alot (for some reason Gemina and Obsidio were easier than Illuminae). But once I figured out how to work around that, I was drawn in to a great plot with dynamic, real characters.

Now to the (perhaps some) spoilers:

My favourite aspect of the series was definitely AIDEN, the artificial intelligence on the ships. Depicted as a monster, the AI goes a bit rogue – but only because of the way it is programmed. It’s weird – I almost found AIDEN likeable as it struggles with not understanding emotions when sort of developing love for one of the main characters. I enjoyed the poetic style of writing in the AIDEN sections, and it was really wonderful to witness it become more human-like as the series progressed.

I loved how many strong female characters there were. Kady, Hanna, Ella and Asha were fantastic and represented a broad spectrum of personalities. I wish we’d had more time to get to know Asha – I really enjoyed seeing the most ordinary of the girls persevere with pure grit to get things done. The hacker girls were awesome! Really good to see female computer science representation – something I have noticed is on the increase with books like When Dimple Met Rishi. It was great to see them being resourceful and resilient. I also thought that all the characters gelled together well in Obsidio after Illuminae focussed on Kady and Ezra, and Gemina focussed on Hanna and Nik (and Ella!).

I also really liked the struggles of the teenagers against their adult seniors. The teenagers were the best at doing what they do and were often overlooked – something that happens in real life.

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Definitely recommend the series – even if you’re not a big sci-fi fan. It is fast paced, clever, has lots of twists and turns and a whole cast of very likeable characters. Would buy hard copies to get the full effect of how awesome it is though!

Give it a go!

Rebecca

Step into a new adventure!

Hi everyone!

I guess it’s time to introduce myself. I’ve been sharing lots of my photos on instagram lately so thought it was about time I started writing about my adventures – both in imaginary worlds (books) and the real world (hiking, trekking etc).

I’ve been reading since I was a kid – Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Hopkins, and then the magical world of Harry Potter. Now I read mostly YA, fantasy, sci-fi and the odd romance. I’ll also blog about my escapades into non-fiction.

My love for hiking started in my third year of university. My then housemates decided I should get out of the house more, so I picked the hill-walking society and off I went every Sunday for the entire year. After university finished, I met my other half, who fortunately loves adventures too (both in books and beautiful places!). I’ll blog about what we get up to over the next few years.

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So there we are. Hope you enjoy reading about the two loves of my life; trails and tales.

Rebecca