Saturday, April 20, 2019

Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

Song of the Crimson Flower
Julie C. Dao
Publication Date: November 5th 2019
Publisher: Philomel
Find This Book: Song of the Crimson Flower
Rating: 4/5

I was given an ARC of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

As you can see, the cover is STUNNING and I was so excited to get an ARC of this after how much I enjoyed Dao's Evil Queen retelling in Forest of a Thousand Lanturns. Song of the Crimson Flower takes place in the same universe, which means an awesome myth and magic system that I'm already familiar with frames the story. The best part? Stone-hearted girls with swords have taken over the YA industry recently and this book is NOT one of them! The main character is Bao, the physician's assistant, and Lan, a noble woman with basically zero skills but an amazing sense of right and wrong. My soft children strike out on a quest to break a curse and get more than they thought they signed up for. 

If you're looking for a story with kind, relatable characters, THIS is the book for you. If you're looking for a cool magic system with witches and curses and an awful lot of boating and horseback riding, THIS book is for you! Don't get me wrong, this book will have action and tension in it!! But the characters are gentle and emotional and it makes alllllll the difference. I found Bao and Lan so easy to connect to and this change up from the current genre trope made for very compelling and vulnerable scenes.

The only reason this book isn't getting 5 stars is because there was no doubt in my mind how the book was going to end and nothing in the last 40 pages or so provoked the thoughts or emotions I expected to be feeling after how amazing the lead up was. It's a sweet story, but I thought I'd be on my toes a bit for the finale and I wasn't.

That being said, I would highly recommend this book about heartwarming characters who are passionate about helping others, politics (we do have a war about to break out after all), and of course love.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Quests and Quandaries by Alda Yuan

Quests and Quandaries 
By Alda Yuan 
Publication Date: December 16th 2018 
Publisher: N/A 
Find This Book: Quests and Quandaries
Rating: 3.5/5 

I was given a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

In this case, definitely don't judge a book by its cover! Alda Yuan's self published book Quests and Quandaries holds a treasure trove of fantasy tropes just waiting to be poked fun at, which a nice philosophical thought process about how much control the characters (and perhaps the readers themselves) have over their own lives. 

I really like the sort of self aware, satirical angle this book took. It was refreshing to see a character acknowledging how things turn out a specific way, because that's how quests and epics always go in the stories! The characters and different lands were lots of fun as well. I particularly enjoyed when Rahni watched how her world came to be (a beetle created her land, and the world is suspended by wires). Cementing a mythological story as "truth" was very cool.

The only thing I didn't enjoy was all the footnotes. There were 324 footnotes and they're very hard to open and read on a kindle device. I was curious to what they contained, so I read them all. Unfortunately, only about 10% actually answered a question a reader might have in the relevant scene. Most of the footnotes did not add anything to the story, and some of them even confused me more by mentioning characters not in the book! Furthermore, it would have been nice if the 4 rules *were* footnoted whenever they were mentioned, but they were not important enough to get footnotes I guess. The rules are read once towards the beginning, and rule #4 isn't brought up again until the end. I had no clue what the rule was by then!

That being said, the footnotes only brought this book down by one star. It's still a hilarious fantasy book that I would recommend to those who don't take their tropes and cliches too seriously.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn
By Elizabeth Lim
Publication Date: July 9th 2019
Publisher: Knopf
Find This Book: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1)
Rating: 4/5 

I was given an eARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spin the Dawn is a precious pearl of a book. The only reason it doesn’t have 5 stars from me is because the pace wasn’t quitewhat I prefer. The gorgeous cover and Mulan description made me want to read it ASAP and I was so excited when I was approved for this arc. The book itself was just as awesome as the cover! Lim takes us into an East-Asian inspired fantasy world with a setting very similar to China, and mythology that seems lightly based in Shintoism (the sun goddess Amana/Amaterasu is upset by a and the sun goes away, creating the cycle of night and say. There are even mythical decedents of Amana, though they are not royalty like in Japan.

The novel is about a girl named Maia, who is “enlisted” like Mulan to replace a male figure. In this case, she is taken to compete to be the new Imperial Tailor, as the Emperor’s old tailor just died. The book Is broken into three parts, all with their own intrigues. In the beginning you’re learning about how the Summer Palace works, how the social hierarchy is laid out, and how the book understands and defines magic. Later on, Maia has to prove herself by going on a thrilling and dangerous adventure to make mythical dresses out of the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of the stars. Are these ingredients even real, and does Maia have what it takes to collect them???

The book didn’t ‘twist’ persay, as I feel twists include a bit of a jolt in the narrative, but the ending was certainly unexpected. There were many parts of it I didn’t see coming, but it all flowed together perfectly- the ideal balance! If you’re looking for fantasy, magic, and/or #ownvoices rep- Lim spins the perfect tale with Spin the Dawn!

Friday, January 25, 2019

This Is Kind Of an Epic Love Story by Cheryl Callender

This Is Kind Of An Epic Love Story  
by Kheryn Callender 
Publication Date: October 30th 2018 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray 
Rating: 5/5

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

You know that special kind of magic that happens when you read a book at the perfect moment for you? This is what happened for me with This is Kind Of An Epic Love Story. It’s not EPIC-epic, but cherishes the great and fabulous occurrences in normal relationships. If you’re looking for a meet-cute couple that struggles a bit with navigating physical intimacy and potential long-distance, this is the book for you!

Nate is a junior in high school, trying to figure out his relationship with his ex-girlfriend and best friend, while also realizing he has feelings for the new guy in school that Nate already has a bit of history with. As someone who’s tried staying friends with their ex, I really felt what Nate was going through. I’d recommend this for anyone who’s experienced similarly, and/or have been in a complicated romantic dynamic. 

An added layer to the story is that Nate is interested in the creative arts as a career path- Screenwriting in particular. This needs extra work (projects, summer classes, etc.) to get into any good colleges, and it was so nostalgic to read his experiences prepping for summer applications and pulling all-nighters to get his script ready in time. Many of my friends had gone through similar process while we were in high school, and I could easily place myself in Nate’s shoes.

The most emotional part of the story was Nate’s views on relationships. He’s a bit of a pessimist, and thinks happy endings only happen in movies. Watching him being scared to commit to multiple relationships, and struggling between expressing his emotions and trying to avoid getting hurt, was so powerful. He was so caught up in the future, that he wasn;t paying attention to how happy he could be in the moment, and that no matter what the future was perhaps the present would be worth it. As someone who is about to leave my home for 6 months and am about to enter a ling-distance relationship myself, this book couldn’t be more inspiring. 

But the book doesn’t simply revolve around Nate’s romantic relationships! We are also given dramatic scenes where he discovers how to be more emotionally available to his friends and his family, and honestly is was so cute.

Book Rep: Deaf (elaborate ASL use and detailed descriptions of signing), POC, LGBT+ (obvious via relationships but no labels are used) 

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves
by Roshani Chokshi
Publication Date: January 15th 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Find This Book: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1)
Rating: 3.5/5

I was given an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 For context, I have previously read Chokshi’s hilarious mythological book, Aru Shah and the End of Time, so I had a lot of expectations going into reading this!

If you’re looking for a historical heist, this is the novel for you! Séverin Montagnet-Alarie has been exiled from a powerful order and spends his time taking back what’s his: the items of his inheritance that were taken form him upon exile. A job gone south forces him to take a commissioned job: stealing a Forged (magical) item from The Order he was kicked out of! Séverin and his talented crew get into higher stakes than ever before as relationships form and break under the pressure.

 Set in 1889 Paris, the environment of the book and the outfits of the characters are absolutely fabulous- I’m sure so much research went into this book! The best part for me was that we were given a group of 6 characters, and they were equally given screen-time and were all well developed with personal histories and motivations. That’s hard to do in one initial book and I was blown away. I didn’t realize how attached I was to the character’s plots until I started rooting for [certain things] to occur. Our exiled hotel owner, a biracial friend from the past (a current Order-member), a biracial bisexual historian, an Indian dancer with a powerful touch, a genius engineer with a debt to pay, and our exile’s brother with the ability to Forge flowers.

 The bisexual representation in particular was done quite tastefully, showing the character’s interest in multiple people and their past struggles with religion and family. As someone who identifies as bisexual, I was shocked and pleased to see this realistic experience in this novel, especially since the novel has only been marked as Historical Fiction and Fantasy so far. It’s nice to see an LGBT+ character in a book that doesn’t revolve around their sexuality. Going further, this character’s commitment to a person was just that, choosing a person to be with and not ‘choosing a gender’. Unfortunately, the latter happens too often, so I am over the moon about this character!!

 Of course, this book ends with prophesized action ahead, and a big twist- I can’t wait for Séverin and the crew’s next adventure!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #3

Created by Lia @Lost in a Story

It works like this:
Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books.
Read the synopses
 of the books
Decide: keep it or should it go?
My Goodreads TBR currently has 833 books on it, and this post is all books I added in 2012, so I'm really looking forward to cleansing my list!

Angelfall (Penryn & The End of Days #1)

Set in Northern California, about a warrior angel apocalypse, this book description seems mediocre. I recognized the cover of this book, but couldn't remember why I had added it to my tar list. However, all of my friends have given this book stellar reviews on Goodreads. There must be a reason for all of these 5-star ratings!

Decision: Keep

Bad Girls Don't Die

A high schooler fears here twelve year old sister may be possessed in this novel. There's the typical dysfunctional family, spooky things moving in the house, and the changing of eye colors.  I think I'm going to need a little more from a book than just possession to get me hooked though.

Decision: Go

The Bar Code Tattoo

The story of a girl who breaks societies norms by not getting her identifying bar code tattoo. Become an outcast, and then going on the run, the concept of this book is something at still interests me. Plus, I found it at a yard sale recently to maybe this is a sign that I'll be reading it eventually!

Decision: Keep

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)

This series is so flipping popular there's no way I can *not* read it. It has a 4.4/5 rating on Goodreads with half a million people rating it! Plus, I love fairytale retellings so I'm really looking forward to this series!

Decision: Keep



(Don't mind me, I just deleted like 20 books in the middle that all had the same plot. Paranormal girl gets a dream where she finds out she might not be normal *gasps*. I guess I had a type?)

Evermore (The Immortals #1)

After the death of her family, Ever can see the aura's of those around her. She then falls for an "exotic and wealthy" boy. Seriously? He's being described as exotic? People aren't exotic. It seems like almost every friend of mine has read this book in 2013 (after I added it to my TBR) and they all hated it...

Decision: Go 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Summer 2018 Wipeout Wrapup

Hosted by The Candid Cover

This summer went by so quickly! I'm glad I joined the Summer TBR Wipeout. It really motivated me to get through some books I've really been looking forward to!

Going into this, I wanted to read these 12 books:

Since my last update, I've read Final Draft, Brightly Burning, and most of 806. I got pretty darn close to my goal with 9/12 books read!

August 16th 2018:

City of Lost Souls: Did Not Start
Nobody's Princess: 3/5 stars
The Hate U Give: 5/5 stars
Geekerella: Did Not Start
Stalking Jack the Ripper: 4/5 stars
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue: 5/5 stars
Dear Rachel Maddow: Did Not Start
Final Draft: 3/5 stars
Brightly Burning: 3/5 stars
Runebinder: 3/5 stars
806: Almost Done
Merrett's Chase: 5/5 stars

I'm planning on finishing up 806 today, and diving into Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco, City of Lost Souls, and a John Green book next since my summer doesn't end until September 6th! (I have never ever read a John Green book, so if you have a suggestion for the cream of the crop, let me know! If I were to read one book that would convert me into a John Green fan, which would it be?). I hope you all had a great summer of reading like I did, and thanks to The Candid Cover for hosting this awesome challenge!

September 6th Update:

I finished 806, City of Lost Souls, and Geekerella all before the summer ended!

806: 4/5 stars
City of Lost Souls: 3/5 stars
Geekerella: 3/5 stars

I'm thinking about dropping Dear Rachel Maddow from my TBR soon list and demoting it to my regular old TBR. Yay or Nay??