Top Ten Tuesday – Fantasy For Every Age


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at Broke and the Bookish where every Tuesday, Top Ten things of anything are listed. Todays Top Ten things are:

Top Ten Books for Fantasy Readers of Every Age

I am switching it up a little bit this week, by recommending my favourite fantasy books from each age group.


1. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

3. Bad Beginnings by Lemony Snicket.

lightning-thief1 narnia BadBeginnings

Young Adult

I have chosen to leave things like Throne of Glass and Harry Potter off the list because they are super obvious choices.

1. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton.

2. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.

3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

4. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

Ava-lavender_march.png daughteroftheforest Cinder_Cover Poison-Study-Cover-2


Now I am cheating more than a little here, because I haven’t read any of these books, but they are up the top of my reading list so they ight as well be on everyone else’s list too. I chose to leave Lord of the Rings off of this list because its an obvious choice.

1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

2. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.

3. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman.

the name of the wind the final empire sandman vol 1





Be sure to share your lists!

If you want any of the books listed please click on the thingyami below.



Till Next Time…


Book Review – His Dark Materials

his dark materials

Title: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass

Author: Philip Pullman

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk

Length: 423, 352, 560

Rating: 3.5 Star average



Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the alethiometer. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.


I was going to review each of these books separately, they all cover completely different things in their stories since they all take place in separate worlds, but I realised I just straight up don’t have that much to say about any of them all by themselves. I also had one of resolutions that I would do short ones or group reviews on things so that this remains fun for me so this seems like a good place to start.

This first part will be a more overall discussion of the stories without revealing any of the plot points, but after I shall go into more details about things and those who do not want to be spoiled will have to give the second half a miss.

In terms of writing for this book I both loved and hated it. I really liked the descriptiveness of some things and I was really getting into the pictures that were being painted of the world. But then the descriptions didn’t stop, and they went on and on about things that didn’t need to be talked about. I am talking pages of useless description and all of a sudden my nice pictures in my head were covered in words like flies. Then of course there were things I actually wanted them to explain but of course that didn’t happen.

I also found there were a quite a lot of throw away characters and the ones that were not throw away, I found most of them didn’t have much depth to them. The one I thought had the most depth had to probably Lyra, who I actually liked as a character. She had spunk and was not afraid to stand up for herself, but most of all she seemed to learn from the mistakes she made along the way. I also really loved her and Pan’s relationship. I think I liked all the daemon/human relationships. They were the strongest. The next surprisingly would have to be Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter. At first I hated them both then all of a sudden there was a switch and the feelings I had for them were not so clear. Mrs. Coulter was the most surprising in the sense she was a gradual and I didn’t expect to have my feeling son her altered, but Lord Asriel was more of sudden switch and I didn’t really get it. I don’t know if I missed a part that had altered things or if I just didn’t understand him from the start.

I know that to some this is considered a childrens books, but I don’t really understand it. If I was not completely paying attention to the ramble, then I missed some complicated political thing that was happening or was being explained and I just don’t see how that is entertaining to or even understandable to kids. I suppose this ‘childrens book’ label can be used as an excuse for the simplicity of the characters, but I don’t really want to let it have that excuse. To me this was a YA book series.

Beyond this point is the more spoiler ridden section of the review, so if you are leaving me here I would give this series a miss if I could go back in time and tell myself my own thoughts. However, so may people rave about this book, so perhaps at the very least don’t do it in audio book.

Ok, can we talk about the huge religious element in this book. It was basically the entire plot and they went on and on about it all the time. That dust was religious and created by original sin, and they were in war with angels and God, have to say was probably the second big downfall for me next to the over description. I felt like I was being preached to in the most complicated way possible. The plot got so jumbled I really had no idea what side I was supposed to be leaning towards or anything. Really it was just very frustrating. It might not have been so bad if it just didn’t keep going on and on.

I also thought the end of the book was a bit sad. I felt horribly for them both, I wont say who, but I liked the book just a bit more because of it because it didn’t go with the standard every book has to have a happy ending. The ending was sad but it left room for hope of happiness.

So yes, again I would not read these books again. There were things I liked, some of the settings sounded amazing and I adored the whole daemon/spirit/soul thing and wish I could learn to see my own, but the writing, the depthless characters, and the overall lack of enjoyment in the driving plot, which by the way doesn’t come up until the second book, just was not doing it for me. Unless you know someone else who you trust their opinion on books and they suggest this series to you, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.


Till Next Time…


Book Review – The Secret Garden

the secret garden

Title: The Secret Garden

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett

Genre: Classic, Childrens,

Length: 341

Rating: 5 Star

Movie Reviews: 1993, 1994, 2001



After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. One day she learns of a secret garden in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key…


Oh this book.

I love this book.

This is one of the books where I simply do not care if I already have two copies of it on my shelf, I will look at other pretty hardcover versions of it because I love it so much. And I will read all those different covers of it too. Right after I purchase them. This is simply just a stunning story.

The only thing I remotely question about this book is that its a children’s book. Its awfully sad and series to be a children’s book to me, but I suppose that is what makes adults love reading it to kids, that they can appreciate it on a deeper level than the children will be able to.

I loved the sad start to this story. The story starts in such a sad place and so does Mary, she is almost just a hollow human being, and she is just forgotten by everyone who was supposed to be looking after her when her parents died. She was nasty on the outside and hollow on the inside. No one gave her any kind of real love, and didn’t teach her how to be a real person.

But then she goes to this dark, cold and wet foreign place and discovers people who actually pay attention to her enough to actually care about the way she acts.  For the first time she sees others as people, and thinks about the way she should be treating them. Then she finds this secret little world that no one loves and no one wanted, and she feels a connection to it and begs to have her little bit of Earth. She wishes to help it grow and become whole again, and as she and the other children go there and grow and become more whole and beautiful people, so does the garden.

I loved all the characters, and I adored the comparisons between the two cousins. How they were different and how they were the same and the different places they had come from in life before they met each other.

I will grudgingly admit that I did feel some parts of the story dragged more then they needed to, but these were only the parts in the story were Colin was going on about how he wants to do scientific discoveries on magic, and how he was going to give grand speeches on the subject, while giving long speeches.

I cannot urge people to read this book more. This is a must read for anyone before they die. Don’t listen to the childrens category, adults will love it. I also think children in school will also love it, I know I did. Just go forth and read it. Just thinking about it makes me want to go read it again, and buy another copy.


Till next Time…


Book Review – The Faerie Queene

faeries queene

Title: The Faerie Queene [Told to the Children Series]

Author: Jeanie Lang

Genre: Childrens, Fantasy

Length: 121

Rating: 3 Star 2 Star



Collection of fairy tales.


I am review this book months after I read it and I made no notes to speak of other than one sentence on goodreads, so I probably shouldn’t be reviewing it at all, but oh well. I don’t think I would have had much to say about it anyway. Sorry for the partial review!

I both liked and really didn’t like this story. I think a three star is pretty generous of me. Actually, yeah I am going to change that to a 2 star.

I really liked it in the sense that I love fairy tales. I prefer the ones about the not so nice faeries because I believe them to be tricky and generally unpleasant creatures, but I still get a good kick out of the standard happy fairy tale. There were a few of these ones in the book., If you are a child I think these would be some stories that you will find really satisfy and interesting. And as an adult I can acknowledge this, but thats where my enjoyment ended.

The stories follow a number of different characters, some of them had depth but most of them didn’t. Some of them even popped up as side characters in other stories and this greatly annoyed me because the characters were not consistent between stories. One story would end some place and then in the next story that character would be doing something completely different or before where their story ended. If you are going to have a story about a characters that involves someone’s story that ends after PUT THEM IN THE CORRECT ORDER. The actual personalities were not consistent either.

I found the writing style of the book also hard to get into. Yes I know its an old book which generally means the writing style is different to todays styles, but even on old standards I found it hard. Bits of it sped up for no reason, others dragged, and some parts, especially dialogue, just felt really forced.

Other than those things though the actual storylines where something I liked. Authentic fairytale kind of plots with knights and queens and fey.

So I would recommend this book for children. If you are an adult I don’t think you want to be reading this story at all. Don’t even read it to kids, give it to kids after they have learnt to read and let them read it themselves.


Till Next Time…



Top Ten Tuesday – Childrens Books Featuring Death


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at Broke and the Bookish where every Tuesday, Top Ten things of anything are listed. Todays Top Ten things are:

Top Ten Childrens Books Featuring Death

How I came upon this idea for this TTT is a bit sad. Recently my best friends father passed away and I went to stay with her and her 10 year old sister for two weeks to help them where I could. One such thing was getting the little sister to go to bed (a process that generally didn’t happen till about 12-2am when she finally passed out). One night I was in with her and she wanted me to read her a story and this sparked my horrible struggle of trying to find a good book to read to her that didn’t have a death in the story somewhere. Point is I couldn’t find one and I ended up reading a joke book that made me want to claw my eyes out. So here is the list this week:

1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A wonderful story about a magical garden and the joy of life. Starts off with the parents dying.

2. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. This is one really sad story overall really.

3. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Though the father comes back at the end but thats at the end.

4. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J.K. Rowling. Do I really need to say anything?

thesecretgarden 9780143106470_custom-2731c2f78c33997fc140863b8479c0e962959117-s6-c30 a little princess harry-potter-sorcerers-stone-cover





5. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. An orphan who gets stuck in the middle of a fight where people are pretty much killing off peoples souls.

6. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. That scene with the horse? Just so devastating.

7. Watership Down by Richard Adams. Rabbits die in this book left right and centre.

northern lights watership down SONY DSC





8. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. Orphan. Lives horrible life with aunts until magic happens.

9. The Bad Beginnings by Lemony Snicket. Nothing about any of these books is happy.

10. Any Disney story ever.

james and the giant peach BadBeginnings disney orphans

And I think thats all I have. I feel like there should be more but they are not coming to mind right at this point.

What did you put on your list this week? Be sure to share!

If you want any of the books listed please click on the thingyami below.



Till Next Time…


Book Review – The Quicksand Pony

quicksand pony

Title: The Quicksand Pony

Author: Alison Lester

Genre: Childrens, Australian

Length: 162

Rating: 4 Star



‘Biddy, I’m sorry, we’re going to have to leave her.’
‘What?’ Biddy struggled out of the quicksand. ‘You can’t leave her! The tide’s coming in. She’ll drown!’

But the pony is trapped and Biddy is forced to go on without her. The next day the only signs of Bella area hoofprints in the sand…with small footprints and the paw marks of a dog. Who has rescued Bella? Who could be so small and be alone on this remote beach?

Biddy’s search takes her into wild secret country where she discovers the truth about a mysterious disappearance that happened many years ago.


I read this book years ago when I was in primary school. I took it with me and my mother moved twice while I was still in school, brought it with me when I moved across the country to Melbourne, and then moved it with me once more when I moved across country again to Brisbane. I brought it with me all these times because I remembered really loving it the very first time I read it and I could not bring myself to let go of it. Now that I have reread it I can completely see why I felt the need to bring it with me each time I moved despite the fact it was a children’s story.

This is an excellent example of a story that both child and parent can enjoy at the same time. For the children it is a story about the rescue of a young girls pony and finding a small boy who has survived many years in the Australian bush and bring him back into the world. All happy endings and interesting adventures. For the adult its about all those things too, but also about, how the child can turn into the parent, the loss of trust that can be born through change, and the need to change and risk everything you have known your whole life to not feel lonely anymore.

I loved each and every character within this book. Our main two are Biddy and Joe and I think they were the perfect two to tell the story. Poor Joe has lived in the bush for years because his mother stole away with him when he was a baby due to a tragic accident with his father and made the rest of their family think they were both dead, keeping their distance from the rest of the world.

**SPOILERS** and with the years that pass his mother slowly becomes more and more filled with fear and more and more sick, forcing Joe to take over the role of the parent, until finally the sickness I suspect was cancer takes its final hold of his mother and she dies, leaving him all alone in the world. He lives alone for at least another year, with only a dingo puppy as his friend. But he longs for someone who will talk back to him. He then risks his whole world and small happiness he already has by exposing himself to the strangers he hatched watched drive the cattle, leaving his best friend behind. **END SPOILER**

Throughout the book Biddy is driven to correct the wrongs she feels she keeps on committing one after another, making things worst and worst, until they lead her to Joe, someone everyone but her and her best friend, Joe’s cousin, thought was dead all these years. They story being told through their perspective makes the story and sweet enough to the child’s mind, and it gives the adult an innocent view into much more complex things that if told through the eyes of another adult could have been much darker.

This is simply just a beautiful book, so I am going to end the review here. Everything that needs to be said about it have already been spoken and I don’t want to ruin this wonderful little bit of magic by going on and on about it in detail. Recommend this book to people who have children, enjoy these kind of simple stories, or have some connect to Australia in someway. If you don’t really like children’s stories I would not recommend it though. Do I still feel like I need to cart this book around since I have read it again? I don’t know. When I was finished I felt so satisfied with it that I could finally let the book move on, but now that I have been thinking about it for awhile, I don’t know if I can. I might want to read this to my children one day since I love it so.



Till Next Time…



Book Review – The Story of the Treasure Seekers


Title: The Story of the Treasure Seekers [The Bastable Children 1]

Author: E. Nesbit

Genre: Childrens, Classics

Length: 202

Rating: 2



When their father’s business fails, the six Bastable children decide to restore the family fortunes. But although they think of many ingenious ways to do so, their well meant efforts are either more fun than profitable, or lead to trouble.


I went into this book with mild interest. It had been on my shelf for ages and it wasn’t that I was ignoring it, it was just hat I have better things to read pretty much always. But I finally picked it up for the AYearAThon’s march theme of bench warmers. I was greatly underwhelmed.

The start of this book was pretty good. I liked the idea of this group of children doing their innocent ideas to try and help bring back their family fortune after their father tried very hard to try and hide the fact they were struggling from them. The ideas are exactly what a bunch of children would think of and the way they followed through with them was pretty cute, even if some of them were really stupid.

The characters themselves were alright, nothing amazing but nothing terribly dull. We don’t really get much of a view of the adults in this story because its not about them and the children don’t really spend much time with them at all. I did really like it though when we did finally get some time with their father and he begs them to not spend their money on anymore business ideas. I also really liked the chapter where they accidentally ‘capture’ a really nice robber which actually turned out to be one of their father’s friends.

The story itself though was very dull to me. It was ok to start off but when I got to about the middle, especially when I got to the chapter where the children write a newspaper, I was about ready to rip my eyes out. It was so boring. The story didn’t develop at all throughout the book and didn’t really move at all until the very end in the last few pages when everything gets wrapped up in a nice little package. Yes, the book is a children’s story, but that doesn’t give the author permission to not even try to make it a quality story. Parents/adults generally will be reading these stories to their kids and the story has to be enjoyable to those adults to otherwise the parents are not going to want to be reading that story to their kids. The story still has got to have depth and development in my opinions.

An excuse for the way that the story was written could be because the story its self is written by one of the children in the book after all these events have taken place. But the story didn’t really have much meaning. We could almost say that the innocence of children’s thinking and ways of going about things is something that adults need to connect with again to actually have a happy life and to move forward themselves, but I feel like I would be giving the book a bit too much credit if I said that.

I don’t really have much more to say about this story. It wasn’t my thing at all. If you have read and enjoyed it I would really like to know how you felt about it and what I may have been missing when reading this story. As it stands though I wouldn’t be recommending this book to anyone.


Till Next Time…


Book Review – The Marvellous Land Of Oz


Title: The Marvellous Land of Oz [Oz 2]

Author: L. Frank Baum

Genre: Childrens, Science Fiction

Length: 154

Rating: 4 Star



First issued in 1904, L. Frank Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz is the story of the wonderful adventures of the young boy named Tip as he travels throughout the many lands of Oz. Here he meets with our old friends the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, as well as some new friends like Jack Pumpkinhead, the Wooden Sawhorse, the Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug, and the amazing Gump. How they thwart the wicked plans of the evil witch Mombi and overcome the rebellion of General Jinjur and her army of young women is a tale as exciting and endearing today as it was when first published over eighty years ago.


There will be spoilers within this review.

This book received a 4 star rating from me because the book was really solid. It is not the best 4 star book I have ever read, but I had a thought about what I was going to get when I went into it, and that is exactly what I got.

The land of Oz as we all know it is a little bit bonkers and not quite standard, and the writing style in this book reflects that. There are few moments I had to just go with because it was a bit weird for me. There was a moment when two of the characters had a conversation with each other about how they can’t understand each other and need an interpreter, despite the fact they clearly understand each other.

In the book the Emerald city gets taken over by a revolt of girls. Normally I would find this interesting, but I found this actually really rather insulting. The girls don’t think they could do a better job than the current person in charge, they just want to take over so that they can take all the jewels and empty out the cities treasury. They were just vain and stupid people. Made me a bit angry that that is the way the women are portrayed. But it was small annoyance I suppose… Kind of.

One thing I did find really interesting was the ending. When we find out that Ozma was in fact a boy throughout the story and her whole life and then must turn back into a girl so that she may rule Oz. We don’t really get any idea or any showing of how exactly that affects her. The brief look we get of this person after seem to have done a number of their personality, they seem more mellow to me. I would really like to know more about how that whole serious way of life thing affected them.

From certain bits of this book I think the second movie was supposed to be based on it, but it is really not the same story. Has anyone else ever seen that movie or read any of the other books? Do parts of the other books come into play?

Either way I will be reading the rest of the books because I want a better grasp of what was happening in this world. I will also be revisiting the movies.

So everyone who has seen the movie and liked it should read these books. I think people of all ages


Book Review – A House Without Mirrors


Title: A House Without Mirrors

Author: Marten Sanden

Genre: Childrens

Length: 176

Rating: 5 Star



Thomasine has spent months living in her great-great-aunt’s dusty, dark house with her father, and her aunt, uncle and cousins. While her father’s siblings bicker about how much the house must be worth, her distant, elderly aunt is upstairs, dying, and her father has disappeared inside himself, still mourning the death of Thomasine’s little brother.

But one day, her youngest cousin makes a discovery: a wardrobe, filled with all the mirrors missing from the big house. And through the mirrors, a different world – one in which you can find not what you most wish for, but perhaps what you most need …

A beautiful tale of love, grief and growing up, “A House Without Mirrors” is an unforgettable adventure into families and the power of love.


I sped through this story. It was awesome.

I got a very Narnia feel to this story because of how people travel through the wardrobe but it was its own story in every other aspect.

We go into a house with no mirrors and seems devoid of life, where a family who is all torn up and each having their own issues have moved in because their great-aunt is dying. The adults fight about the price of the house and the kids fight with each other and the parents. Until one day the youngest child goes into the wardrobe containing all the missing mirrors and goes into another world which is a mirror image to the house they live in, has a girl living there, and the house has life once again. When she comes out she has gained something about herself that she needed and is happier.

Gradually every member of the household goes to this other place and gains something they need, with the girl in the other world growing older each visit, and they leave the house behind with just Thomasine and her father and great-aunt. Thomasine later works out thanks to a photo album that she helped the other girl create that she is actually her great-aunt.

This rises questions. Does the wardrobe take you back to the past? Or did it take them to a world they think the house would have been like back then?

This is a children’s story, but I find myself questioning if it would be a good book to read to children. Kids these days are so over protected that everything they are exposed to is cute fluffy garbage and isn’t remotely creepy like when I was younger. This book was a bit creepy, I don’t know if every child could handle it. On a completely different level too, I don’t know if every child will understand the message that is being spoken.

So my advice would be to read it yourself before you read it to your kids just so make sure it might not creep them out, but I think anyone older would enjoy it if you liked the way this review sounded.

Till Next Time…


Book Review – Unpredictable Webs


Title: Unpredictable Webs

Author: Darlene Quinn

Genre: Suspense, Thriller

Length: 451

Rating:  3 Star

Release Date: May 1st 2013


Betrayal, rebellion, jealousy, and a kidnapping gone awry are at the core of this fourth novel in Darlene Quinn’s ensnaring series. Unpredictable Webs picks up the Webs series five years after Twisted Webs.

About to turn sixteen, Marnie Taylor is rebellious–fighting often with her mother, Ashleigh–and jealous of her more even-tempered and popular twin sister, Callie. Lonely, Marnie finds a compassionate listener in Brad, whom she meets online. Spinning a web of lies to throw her parents off, Marnie arranges an in-person meet-up with Brad. But she realizes too late that she has been targeted in a sinister scheme for ransom.

Quinn’s vivid cast of characters returns in this high-tension, stand-alone sequel. Though their actions are plausible, none of them behaves as others might predict in this tale that discloses the darker behaviors people are capable of. Cougar Viviana De Mornay takes Chicago’s fashion world and ”Italian Stallion” Gino Cabello by storm. Tony Wainwright, who has paid his dues for a past crime and appears to have turned his life around, is catapulted to the top of the list of suspects. PI Ross Pocino is on the scene with his surprising insights into criminal behavior, and Paige Toddman’s mother, Helen, seems to grow younger every day. While some mothers can unintentionally do unspeakable harm to their children, Ashleigh’s steel-magnolia efforts to wrest her daughter from her captor redeem the sacredness of that role.


I received this book from the author off of NetGalley and I had serious issues with rating this book. On some levels I felt it needed to be held around the four star mark, but on other ones I felt it required one.

I don’t know if it was just because of the draft I was given to read, but I found the book to be riddled with structural, grammatical, and perspective errors and found myself placing multiple bookmarks along the way for the more serious ones I came across to point out to the author when I give her my review.

The structure of the book has a new chapter pop up every 4 or so pages on average, and at first I found this really rather distracting and it kind of reminded me of walking though a series of small spider webs, as soon as I removed one web I was thrust into another. At first I thought this was because of the constant perspective changes between the many, many characters but later worked out it was not the case because sometimes the author would give someone a paragraph in the chapter, leave a bigger gap between it and the next, then move onto someone else. Towards the end of the book though I rather started to enjoy this very broken up style of chaptering and only became slightly ‘disturbed’ by it when the chapters were longer than normal. I would not think this kind of writing would appeal to everyone however, and you should probably keep it in mind if you choose to try and read this book once its published.

The introduction of the characters was also a bit of a head spin at first because they all got introduced in rapid succession, and I found I had trouble keeping up with all of them, specially if I stopped reading for a bit and came back or with the lesser main characters. At certain points I found myself thinking Oh please no more characters… But after all this introduction if done in the beginning with pretty much everyone, it slows way down and you only get to meet a couple more people towards the end of the book.

If you ignore of that though the story itself was rather enjoyable. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was ‘unpredictable,’ but you care about what is happening to each character along the way. The character development I found was enhanced by the multiple character view points and rapid changes, because you got to see which personality traits each character picked up/focussed on with the rest of the characters. Some parts confused me with backstory since I haven’t read the first books in the series, but I got enough that I generally got the gist of what was happening/happened between everyone, and I look forward to going back and reading the first instalments.