Book Review: The Girl in The Tower by Katherine Arden

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This book has my whole heart.

I mean,  how can something so amazing as this book exist without the rest of the world loving it as much as I do? This book is truly a hidden gem.

I read The Bear and The Nightingale earlier this year and I really liked it. I decided not to read the sequel right away because I tend to have really bad experiences with binge reading a series, especially fantasy.

I am really glad I put it off till now, because I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much if I had read it then. Also I have to wait less for The Winter of The Witch to  release!

If you haven’t already read the books, you should. It is so, so worth it.

SYNOPSIS:

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

 

This book starts right where The Bear and The Nightingale ended, with Vasya running away dressed up as a boy towards a new future. A future where ,as a boy, she may do as she pleases and explore the world as she wishes.

However, the world is a dangerous place and Vasya must go through much hardship, and she will be tested.

I really loved Vasya in this book, maybe because the book was about her journey to the world beyond her village. She was so brave and flawed and just wanted tonbe loved and accepted as who she was, without having society decide it for her.

It really was empowering to see her choose for herself, and the book doesn’t force feminism and equality on you, to the point where it is just too overwhelming and you’re feel like you’ve heard this a thousand times before. It just fit into the story.

I don’t think this book could be what it is, if it  wasn’t for Katherine Arden’s writing which was lyrical and just pure magic. It reminded me so much of Laini Taylor, the way it flowed.

I really, really need more people to read this book, this series. It’s like hot chocolate for your soul. I need the next book to come out as soon as possible!

 

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Author Interview: R. F Kuang talks about her best selling debut, The Poppy War.

If you guys don’t already know, i loved The Poppy War by R. F Kuang. It was one of the best books  i have read in a while, and now has a place amongst my favorite books ever.

So, I was so excited when given the opportunity to interview Rebecca. I hope this interview answers some of your questions about the book if you are planning on reading it, or if you already have!

1. The Poppy War was inspired by The Second Sino Japanese War and the events that took place such as the Rape of Nanjing. Was this book the product of the fact that you wanted more people to be educated about such events?

Partly, yes.

2. Rin is such a well written character! Was she based on a certain historical figure? Were some of her experiences, especially at Sinegard, taken from your own life?

Rin is based on Mao Zedong–at least in trajectory, if not in personality. She’s a peasant nobody on the up and up. No spoilers for Book Three.
Rin and I don’t have very much in common. I’ve definitely had a much easier life. I’ve certainly dealt with sexism, racism, and classism at elite educational institutions, but never in such overt and devastating forms. I’d like to think I also have better anger management.

3. This book doesn’t really have any romance. Why did you decide  not to include any romance? Will there be any in the second book?

I’d argue that there actually is romance, it just doesn’t follow conventional storylines, nor does it overshadow the rest of the plot. Rin’s definitely not aromantic or asexual. She has strong romantic or sexual feelings towards a variety of characters–see Altan, Nezha, the Empress, etc. They’re not necessarily reciprocated.

4. Reading about Altan was so heartbreaking. But it’s so realistic.  Was he also inspired by a historical figure or was he something you created? Was it difficult to write about some of the things he went through?

I’m not answering any questions about Altan, sorry.

Ok, rapid fire:

Ship or No:

* Rin  &  Altan – Haha
* Nezha &  Kitay – Oh, definitely not.

*One YA book you would recommend as a must read-

GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE! It come out on November 6 th

*Your favorite  read this year-

Definitely N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy

*Most anticipated 2019 release-

Way too many to count. Pop over to my Twitter–I recently asked for a roundup of works by Asian writers coming out next year and I’m excited for all of them! I try to review books by Asian writers the week they come out, and you can find all my writeups and Q&As over at Journey2theBEST.wordpress.com!

Thank you so much, Rebecca for agreeing to do this!

Review: A Muse Of Nightmares ( Strange the Dreamer #2)

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“For an instant, at least, they seemed one and the same, as though all anguish exists in the same deep well, no matter what loss or misfortune leads us to it. We might be at odds, hate each other, and desired each others destruction, but in our despair, we are lost in the same darkness, breathing the same air as we choke on our grief.”

I honestly can’t think of the appropriate words to describe my feelings after reading this book. It is an absolute masterpiece. I don’t think that i have ever read a book that left me reeling, like this did. There are books that after i was finished i was left in shock by the plot twists and all the drama. This was not one of those books. After finishing it, i felt like i was in love. All i could think about was this book and how i never would be able to get over it. At some points I just wanted to go rip my heart out of my chest, because it is so full of emotions and feelings and other things i can’t even describe.
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This book starts right where Strange the Dreamer left off, with the fates of Sarai and the people of Weep being in the hands of Minya. If Lazlo wishes to be with Sarai, then he must be willing to let the people of Weep face Minya’s fury.
The first book, was mostly the story of Lazlo and Sarai and the world as they saw it. However, this book gives us a look into the lives of the other characters as well.
It ‘s a story of gods and humans, of love and hate, of hope and pain and family. But mostly, it was a story about love.
The love between siblings, the love between family and the love between two people. It was also a story about hate and pain and how it can consume you, like love, and make you capable of things you never thought possible.

“People are our safe places. I have one: a person who’s a home and a world to me.” 

I loved how Minya’s story was told. Not the one that we see through the eyes of Sarai and the others. But her story, told by her and through her mind. I honestly can’t imagine living in so much of fear as a child, and then at the age of five , going through what she did. She raised four children, not that much younger than she was. She had every right to be angry. However, it consumed her until it became a part of her. I really did feel for her and just wanted for her to find happiness in some way or another.
The writing in this is just incredible. It just flows . Its just so unique and pulls you in and never lets go until the end. Half of the reason that I loved this book was the writing. It was so beautiful and tragic and felt like i was reading poetry. I don’t think that anyone

writes like Laini Taylor does. It’s so unique and is an experience all on its own.

I really ashamed to admit that this wasn’t one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I decided to pick it up because-why not? I am so glad i did, because after finishing it, i am in an utter state of bliss. This book does leave room for a third installment and i really hope it happens!

Also, i just wanted to add some pictures of my gorgeous babies here:

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Ruby

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Minya

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Feral

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Sparrow

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Sarai

 

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Lazlo Strange

Go here to find out which godspawn you are!

ARC REVIEW: THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

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I’ve been played. 

How could Holly Black do this to my weak mortal heart? How can she live with herself after this? I feel like my heart has been ripped out my chest and will only be returned at the end of the series. So basically my life depends on The Queen of Nothing. That’s great. 

THE PLOT: 

“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto.”

Jude now has control of Cardan but it’s slowly slipping away. She needs to make sure that the throne is ready for Oak when he is of age, but to do that she must take power from where she can and must figure out who has betrayed her before it’s too late. 

THE CHARACTERS: 

Wow. If you thought they were complex in the first book, then you should be happy to find out that they become even more so in this one. Everyone is unpredictable. Everyone has a secret. Everyone needs power and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. 

I loved Jude even more in this book just because there was a bit more of vulnerability and maturity. She is so determined to get what she wants and will let nothing stand in her way, let it be the whole of Faerie. She is not your typical protagonist and is doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She is stubborn and brave and cunning and makes you feel for her. 

“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”

Cardan obviously remains my favorite. He is just everything i need from the “villain “ of the story. I honestly feel things for him that I haven’t felt for anyone in real life so far. He is just so vulnerable and needs to be told that he is loved and needed. My heart broke at multiple points in this book and won’t recover until he gets the happy ending he deserves. 

Our eyes meet, and something dangerous sparks.
He hates you, I remind myself.
“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”

Also the sexual tension between Cardan and Jude, had me squealing the whole time. I just wanted them to confess their feelings for each other once and for all. I needed them to. I usually can’t handle romance in a fantasy because i find it too cheesy. This was nothing like that. They were both aware that it was a toxic relationship. They hated one another as much as they desired  each other.

I think that this is Holly Black’s best book yet and I can’t wait for you guys to read it and go through the same torture that I am facing right now. (Yes, the book is rubbing off on me). There really are no words to describe my love for this book and how good it is. It makes you think that you’ve got the plot all figured out and you’re a genius. Well guess what? You didn’t guess it, not even close. Holly Black is the only one here with a storytelling IQ of 200. This book is a masterpiece and that is the only way to describe it. Go ahead and pre order it. It’s going to be the best book of 2019.

REVIEW: The Poppy War by R.F Kaung

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“Great danger is always associated with great power. The difference between the great and the mediocre is that the great are willing to take the risk.”

I really don’t know why, but i kept putting off reading this one for sometime. I saw the gushing reviews and recommendations, but i just didn’t pick this one up. Then finally, i decided: why not? I am so glad that i did that, because i needed this book in my life. Everyone does. i cannot elaborate on how much i loved it. I felt like i had finished a workout after reading this, the adrenaline rush was real. I loved all the characters and was so emotionally involved in this, that if they died(spoiler alert!), i died.

SYNOPSIS :

A powerful epic fantasy novel with roots in the 20th-century history of China.

Opium runs through the heart of the Nikara Empire, a constant reminder of the war with the Federation of Mugen that brought it to the empire’s shores. A war that only ended thanks to three heroes – the Vipress, the Dragon Emperor and the Gatekeeper – known as the Trifecta. They were legendary figures, each bestowed with god-like powers, who united the warlords of the Empire against the Federation.

Decades have passed. The Trifecta is shattered; the Dragon Emperor is dead, the Gatekeeper is missing, and the Vipress alone sits on the throne at Sinegard. Peace reigns, yet the poppy remains.

War orphan Fang Runin grew up with it. Her adopted family smuggles it throughout the Rooster province, making a living on the misfortune of those addicted to its smoke. But when Rin’s parents force her into an arranged marriage, Rin refuses to accept her fate and fights her way to the prestigious military academy at Sinegard.

There she will learn of drug-fuelled shamanic powers thought to be myth, powers which might defeat the Federation during its third invasion. But the cost of some power is too great to pay, even if it means winning a war that threatens to destroy an entire nation.

This book is about war. The horrors of it , the effect it can have on people decades later, centuries even. It is a book about how people are used and treated like animals when they cannot be understood. When we cross the boundaries of humanity, into a place where man has disregard for the life of another, for the lives of thousands.

“War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who remains.” 

The book starts off light, with Rin determined to get into Sinegard and away from her foster family who are trying to marry her off. She works hard for it and that is something i respect about this book. There is actual struggle to study and earn her place.  However, being a dark skinned, poor girl at Sinegard is not easy. She has to constantly prove herself and make sure that she doesn’t lose her place. She is bullied and treated unjustly, but that doesn’t make her back down. She earned her place here and she wasn’t going to lose it.

“Children ceased to be children when you put a sword in their hands. When you taught them to fight a war, then you armed them and put them on the front lines, they were not children anymore. They were soldiers.”

The book depicts the actual war that took place in China in the 1930 and the author does not skip the details. The pain suffered, physically and emotionally. The anger, the hate and the loss of hope. This book is not an easy read.

I loved Rin, her bravery, her determination and also her vulnerability-which she turned to strength. She was such a strong character and she did not let other people define her or put her down. She did not let the prospect of having to work hard stop her. She grew, she learned and her character development was amazing throughout the book.

i felt so many things while reading this: anger, pain, sorrow, happiness. This book makes you feel things. It makes you go through the pain as well as the happiness. It should be read.

If you didn’t already get this from the review- i loved it. I couldn’t stop until i was done. It is definitely a one of my favorite books of all time and i can’t wait for the sequel.

 

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

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What a beautiful book! After I was finished, i felt so… dreamy. I want to live in a world where I can live with a frost demon and ride a stallion. Also this book just increased my obsession with horses and my undying love for them . It was so atmospheric and honestly like reading one of those fairy tales.
THE PLOT:
Vasilisa is a young girl, the last child of her dead mother, who also happened to inherit a gift for being able to see creatures not otherwise visible to man. This sets her apart from a young age and she is labeled a witch for being different from other girls. She refuses to be treated like an object or as though she had no worth beyond being a wife and a mother. She is wild, independent and brave. She is an outcast. However, after a new priest begins to cause fear among the people, dangerous creatures begin to awaken that cause death and wreak havoc, and only Vasilisa can save them.

THE CHARACTERS:
The characters are written really well and each have more to them than you first assume and there is a story behind each of their choices and how they all came to be who the person they are. A villain isn’t just born a villain, they aren’t evil from the moment they were born. There is a reason for their actions, their parents, their upbringing, their personal experiences.They are each distinct and memorable.

THE WRITING:
My favorite part of the book . It was so beautiful and perfect and i just wanted to have this story read to me as while i sat, wrapped in a blanket, in front of the fire, while it snowed outside. It was perfect for this type of story and complemented it perfectly. It was lyrical and it was so…romantic.

OVERALL:
I loved it and thought that it was just perfect. I am definitely going to read the sequel

ARC Review: The Tiger at Midnight

 

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Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC to via Edelweiss

“Never greet a tiger at midnight,

for they are the manifestations

of your past misdeeds”

All An Ember in the ashes fans, who want to read something similar, this is the book you are looking for.

I was really excited to read this book after reading the blurb. I mean I love books with good politics, romance and mystery… and this book had all of it, but it was it wasn’t enough. 

This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good book. I did enjoy reading it and was engaged during the story.

So what is it about?

The story takes place in the lands of Jansa and Dharka, two lands bound together by magic that descends from twins Naria and Narian and requires a blood ritual from their bloodline, who are the only ones who have magical powers. Only the females are allowed to rule and it is their blood that is necessary to ensure that the bond isn’t broken. 

However, the land in Jansa has been taken over by  a man (typical), known as the Pretender King after a massacre of the rightful royals in Jansa. This results in problems such as droughts and diseases for both lands, and the only thing that can save them is if the blood ritual is performed. The only descendant believed to be alive is Princess Reha, and no one knows where she is. 

Kunal and Esha , one a soldier forced into the army as a child by his uncle,  after the death of his parents and the other is the feared Viper, the  legendary assassin, that no one knows the identity of, much less that it is a girl. 

Esha is on a mission to kill the general, who happens to be Kunal’s uncle, as a part of the plan to take down the king by the rebel group of Dharka, known as the Crescent Blades. Her path and Kunal’s cross during this, a moment that changes everything.

She finds the general murdered by someone already, who has framed her. Who else knew she was supposed to be here? 

Kunal is then sent on a mission to find the Viper which will make him Commander. He puts two and two together, and so begins the cat and mouse game. 

The romance in this was kind of insta lovey, but not overwhelming. I love that they wanted each other as they were,accepting everything. 

The characters were interesting and Kunal is my favourite. He loves to paint, but has to hide it as he is a soldier. No one is one dimensional and they are quite complex. I didn’t really like Esha that much because i felt that she was similar to a lot of other characters i have read before. She is beautiful and everyone loved her. She was total badass though, so she gets points. 

The author’s writing was engaging and the the story flowed quite smoothly. It was able to narrate the story in a way that kept the reader interested. The characters do go through development as the story goes and we learn more about their past and how Kunal regrets all his choices being made for him, whereas Esha  regrets her past actions. They were realistic and i did enjoy reading about them.

Overall it was a an enjoyable read and I can’t wait to read the sequel

ARC Review: Damsel by Elena K Arnold

* Thank you to the publisher for providing me an ARC via Edelweiss *

Before i start the official review i wanted to add a small summary  of the The story original sleeping beauty ( not the Disney one) which went like this: A KING finds sleeping beauty, rapes her, she gets pregnant with his twins , one of whom sucks the poisonous splinter out of her thumb, she wakes up , goes to the king who kills his current wife to marry her. The end. Yep, I ruined your childhood. However I think that it is necessary to add that before you start judging the book.

Damsel is the best adaptation of it , in my opinion. The reason you may not like it is because you have gotten so used to hearing the Disney version, that isn’t as twisted and makes you feel all happy and optimistic, whereas this book makes you feel the opposite. 

This book is probably going to get a lot of hate, i am sure of it. But personally, I felt that this book is something the world needs. It is a story that needs to be told, whether you may choose to read it or not. 

The plot focuses on Ama, the “damsel” rescued by Emory, the prince,from a dragon that was supposedly guarding her. She returns with him to Harding, his kingdom as his queen-to-be. She is told repeatedly that she is a woman and therefore must behave like one. And how must she do that? She must be obedient and willing to shape herself to whatever the man asks of her. As a means to pleasure him, as a loving wife and as a bearer of his children. 

Slowly Ama begins to realize Emory is not everything he seemed to be at the beginning. She begins to question what she has been told about herself and her rescue, and the truth is an ugly thing.

Yes, it is disturbing and makes you feel uncomfortable. It explores themes such as rape , suicide, depression and animal harm in graphic detail. But it also makes you think twice about a trope we all accept blindly: the prince that rescues the damsel is a hero. They are in love. They belong together. The end. 

Maybe that shouldn’t always be the story, and we shouldn’t accept it so easily. 

If you want a light read, romance and a happily ever after, then this book is not what you are looking for. If you are looking for something feminist, dark and with beautiful writing, then please don’t hesitate in reading this.