book reviews · fantasy

descendant of the crane by joan he; a (love letter) review

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title: Descendant of The Crane
author: Joan He
genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (AW Teen)
release date:
 April 9th, 2019
source: Publisher via NetGalley
Goodreads Summary:

❝Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?❞

goodreads | amazon uk | waterstones | book depository | kobo

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recently i’ve been reading and reviewing a lot of asian-inspired fantasy books, and there’s so many more on my anticipated releases list, which brings me so much joy! to see all these new voices tell stories from their own cultures and have their characters be heard and seen by the world, especially by those who can finally see themselves in fiction is truly wondrous, and i’m so glad this is happening. i, myself, am not of asian descend, but i still really appreciate this small but important step in the publishing world and i hope that it continues to make way for more and more new voices to emerge and tell their histories and stories for the world, because it’s what they deserve.

i really wanted to include that in my review, because i’m not often so vocal about the topic of diversity, but i feel like i, along with everyone else, should be speaking up. there’s a long way to go, and i know that i also can be doing a lot more to support books by authors of colour, so i will continue trying to do better.

anyway, this blog post is about my humble onion (opinion, for those who are not on twitter) on joan he’s debut novel – descendant of the crane. it is a chinese inspired fantasy novel that comes out on april 9th and you should hurry up and pre-order it because it’s amazing.

descendant of the crane tells the story of a young princess, hesina, whose kingdom is shaken after the sudden death of her father, the king. hesina is certain that it was murder, not a natural death, thus, she pursues the truth through legal actions by opening up a trial. during the course of the trial, she uncovers devastating truths about her kingdom and her family, and her notion of truth and justice are thrown into a whirlwind as hesina struggles to regain balance with her emotions, and her unstable kingdom.

i know that description sounds pretty generic, but trust me on this – there is so much to this story that no synopsis can ever capture. i truly did not do it justice, as the book truly unfurls and blossoms as you’re reading. joan he has an incredible talent to keep your eyes glued to the page by providing you with just enough bits of information to tide you over while simultaneously teasing you with what’s to come. Continue reading “descendant of the crane by joan he; a (love letter) review”

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book reviews · fantasy

bloodwitch (the witchlands #3) by susan dennard; a very spontaneous review

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title: Bloodwitch
series: The Witchlands
author: Susan Dennard
genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
publisher: Tor
release date:
 Feb 21st, 2018 (UK)
Goodreads Summary:

❝Loyalties will be tested as never before.

The Raider King’s plans to claim the Witchlands are under way. Now, his forces sow terror in the mountains, slaughtering innocents. After finding the slain, Aeduan and Iseult race for safety. And despite differing goals, they’ve grown to trust one another in the fight to survive. Yet the Bloodwitch keeps a secret that could change everything . . .

When Merik sacrifices himself to save his friends, he is captured by the Fury. However, Merik isn’t one to give up easily, and he’ll do whatever it takes to save those he loves. And in Marstok, Safi the Truthwitch agrees to help the empress uncover a rebellion. But those implicated are killed and Safi becomes desperate for freedom.

War has come once more to the Witchlands. Perhaps if Safi and Iseult were united, their powers could bring peace. But chaos is not easily tamed.❞

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bloodwitch is the third installment in susan dennard’s fantasy series, ‘the witchlands‘. it’s also been quite the anticipated release for many people since it comes out two years after its predecessor. i, myself, quietly waited for the release, thinking i could survive the wait, no problem, but i was surprised how much i actually wanted to devour this book because i went out and started reading it as soon as it hit (both physical and electronic) shelves. my anticipation completely blindsided me, and now that i’m aware of it, the wait for the next book will be unbearable.

starting off, i wasn’t actually going to write this review initially, however, this morning, as i was nearing the end of the book, thoughts rushed into my head and i knew i needed to put them down in a post. everything about this book surprised me, from my eagerness to read it to the writing and the characters, and how much i’d grown attached to them without even knowing. Continue reading “bloodwitch (the witchlands #3) by susan dennard; a very spontaneous review”

book reviews · fantasy

dark of the west (glass alliance #1) by joanna hathaway; a blog tour review

 

32949202title: Dark of The West
author: Joanna Hathaway
genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
publisher: Tor Teen
release date:
 Feb 5th, 2019
source: Publisher via NetGalley
Goodreads Summary:

❝He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.❞

goodreads | amazon uk | barnes&noble |ibooks | book depository | kobo

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dark of the west is a 2019 debut that is marketed as perfect for fans of code name verity and the winner’s trilogy; while i may have not read the former, the latter is my all time favourite book series so it’s needless to say this book had some pretty large shoes to fill in my eyes. having read that and the synopsis, it quickly turned into one of my most anticipated releases of the year and i was so excited and thankful that i got to read it early and participate in the blog tour. Continue reading “dark of the west (glass alliance #1) by joanna hathaway; a blog tour review”

book reviews · fantasy

empress of all seasons by emiko jean; a review that is a little late

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title: Empress of All Seasons
author: Emiko Jean
genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
publisher: Gollancz (Orion Publishing)
release date:
 Nov 8th, 2018
source: NetGalley
Goodreads Summary:

In a deadly tournament to become empress, any may enter but only one will survive, and one competitor doesn’t just plan to win, she’s going to steal the Emperor’s fortune. . .

In each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, and you can marry the prince. All are eligible to compete – all except yokai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yokai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yokai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku.❞

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i received this advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

empress of all seasons is a japanese-inspired fantasy novel that takes a bit bite into not just its subject material, but important societal issues as well. mari, our main character, is a yokai – a japanese supernatural spirit, and more specifically, she is an animal wife – a a shapeshifting yokai spirit that takes the form of a beautiful woman in order to marry unsuspecting men and steal their fortunes. bein the odd one out in her animal wife village, mari has been raised with one purpose – to bear and defeat the seasons in the emperor’s competition, win the princes’ hand in marriage, and steal his fortune. however, complications arise for which mari’s training never prepared her for, and she must take back control while simultaneously hiding her yokai identity.

the premise of this book reeled me in immediately. the concept just sounded too good to pass by, so obviously i knew i had to read this book. i’d seen it vaguely on twitter before requesting it on netgalley, which is a shame, because it didn’t get the exposure that it should have. however, after reading empress, i’m of two minds. Continue reading “empress of all seasons by emiko jean; a review that is a little late”

book reviews · fantasy

girls of paper and fire by natasha ngan; a ‘very happy publication day!’ review

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title: Girls of Paper & Fire
author: Natasha Ngan
genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
publisher: Jimmy Paterson
release date:
 Nov 6th, 2018
source: NetGalley
goodreads summary:

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.❞

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greetings gals and gays, welcome to one of the best reads i’ve had this year.

girls of paper and fire has been a highly anticipated book of mine for months. i was over the moon when i got approved for an early copy of it and immediately dived in, and despite having little to no time to read because of uni, i managed to finish it within two weeks (a perfectly reasonable time, imo, and indeed quite fast for a student in a reading slump during term time!) quite honestly, i surprised myself with exactly how much i enjoyed it, it was that good. Continue reading “girls of paper and fire by natasha ngan; a ‘very happy publication day!’ review”

book reviews · fantasy

dance of thieves (dance of thieves #1) by mary e. pearson; a long overdue review

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title: Dance Of Thieves
author: Mary E. Pearson
genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
release date:
 Aug 7th, 2018
Goodreads Summary:

❝A formidable outlaw family that claims to be the first among nations.

A son destined to lead, thrust suddenly into power.

Three fierce young women of the Rahtan, the queen’s premier guard.

A legendary street thief leading a mission, determined to prove herself.

A dark secret that is a threat to the entire continent.

When outlaw leader meets reformed thief, a cat-and-mouse game of false moves ensues, bringing them intimately together in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.❞

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it’s been a hot minute since i last posted a review, i know. it’s also been a hot minute since i actually read something that wasn’t a tesco receipt, but that’s a whole other story. i could make an excuse and say how hard it is to get my bearings every time i go back to uni after a break, but the truth is that i am now in a constant reading slump and no, there’s no known medical procedure that can cure it (except, you know, reading, but who has time for that, amirite?). moving on, here are my thoughts on dance of thieves:

let’s start off by saying how much i did not like this book’s predecessor, which might seem off topic, but trust me, you’ll understand why this needs to be mentioned. dance of thieves is a spin-off to mary e. pearson’s trilogy “the remnant chronicles” which i read a few years back and was thoroughly not amused. i did enjoy some aspects of it, but, overall, i found the trilogy to be too slow-paced and (e)motionless, to put it shortly. the world was rich though and had so much potential that was not explored, which is why i’m thankful that pearson has decided to revisit it. the reason why i’m going off about remnant is to show the contrast in my opinions of the two – i really liked dance of thieves. that’s it, that’s the review. (obviously it’s not.) Continue reading “dance of thieves (dance of thieves #1) by mary e. pearson; a long overdue review”

book reviews · mystery

stalking jack the ripper & hunting prince dracula by kerri maniscalco; an all-in-one review

28962906title: Stalking Jack the Ripper (#1) & Hunting Prince Dracula (#2)
author: Kerri Maniscalco
genres: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery
publisher: Jimmy Paterson
release date:
 Sept 20th, 2016 & Sept 19th, 2017 respectively
spoilers: vague to none
Goodreads Summary (book one): 

❝Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.❞

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in my wicked anticipation for escaping from houdini – the third installment in the series, which is coming out september 23rd of this year, i decided to review the first two novels. i listened to the stalking jack the ripper audiobook last summer on a bus trip to the seaside, but could not concentrate enough on it so i ended up rereading the book a year later and fell in love! i devoured hunting prince dracula immediately after that, because i couldn’t get enough of kerri maniscalco’s writing.

the first book follows the events of september 1888, when the infamous jack the ripper was terrorizing the streets of london. the historical accuracy in this book is phenomenal, and it is crystal clear that maniscalco has done her research well. (of course, there are a few tweaks here and there, but such creative liberties are explained in the author’s note.) i found it so fascinating how maniscalco manages to connect real figures and events to her fictional story in such a seamless way – even down to the minutest details. it feels like you’re reading a real life victorian lady’s journal entries! Continue reading “stalking jack the ripper & hunting prince dracula by kerri maniscalco; an all-in-one review”