5 stars · book review

ARC review: The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao

The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao

★★★★★ // 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads review

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Note: This is an OwnVoices review! But please note I’m not familiar with all the mythology present in this book. I also won this as an ARC from Katie Zhao‘s twitter giveaway 😀 Thank you to Katie for sending this my way ❤

Overall 5/5 stars!
The Dragon Warrior is a delight through and through. This is the book I desperately needed when I was the characters’ age! The humor is spot on and only gets better as you keep reading. I highly recommend this book, especially for Chinese diaspora readers. I feel so warm and tingly after finishing this and I hope you all will too.

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4 stars · 5 stars · book review

review: Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

★★★★★ // 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads review

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“A woman who can think for herself delves beneath the surface. Pulling out the threads of another’s story and applying them to your own life is the mark of a queen.”

I loved this book wow. The only reason I could rate this book lower is because there wasn’t enough of it and it ended too soon. I’m SHOOK. This book is like a call-out post for all the problems I have for mainstream YA fantasy. Julie brought her A-game here! And I was living for it!

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5 stars · book review

Circe by Madeline Miller – Casual review notes

5 stars | Goodreads review

Madeline Miller’s writing owns my ass.

I don’t have any major points to go over, so please settle for some casual observations and notes from me 😀

– I was surprised my Circe’s naivete as Miller established her and how late of a bloomer she was compared to her siblings. This is justified, I suppose, since she appears more mortal than the rest of her family.

– Miller skillfully incorporates the motif of how myths are created all while having Circe wanting to be in control of her own narrative. She doesn’t want to be *just* a spectacle or a story men tell about her (and will inevitably twist) and it was so gratifying to finally see her confide her whole story to someone by the end. To Kill a Kingdom should take notes from Madeline Miller. This is how you incorporate hearsay and legends without constantly banging the reader over the head with telling them how this is a story within the story.

– There was so much subtle sass. I was living when Circe told Hermes off and apparently so was Penelope. Speaking of Penelope, I love her. Even if I love her, Madeline Miller still had her character face the consequences of her supposed strengths. I love that characters who are highly praised by others still have their vices and sometimes those vices stem from their strengths.

– Odysseus’ hubris was properly served.

– Circe clearly has a type lol. If you see her go from Hermes, Daedalus and then to Odysseus… I honestly really like how Hermes is portrayed here (given I don’t know much about him besides what he looks like in Hercules the animated movie lol). He’s an asshole only interested in his own entertainment, but the book unabashedly tells us this anyway. A little too real, because I’ve met people like that irl and rarely do I get the satisfaction of someone telling them off, so good on Circe.

– I’ve never seen the contrast of immortality and mortality done so well in fiction before. The ending is rather open-ended, and I like that. I generally like having a clear-cut ending or message, but it seems the message here is open ended too. Circe is truly in control of her story and she doesn’t give us the satisfaction of us the reader thinking we have her all figured out.

– You don’t need to read A Song of Achilles before reading this, but if you have you will enjoy some nice easter eggs about Patroclus and Achilles here, courtesy of Odysseus.

And obviously, the events of this book may or may not follow the consensus of Greek myth completely, but … like these stories were told orally over years and years so there are multiple versions of them anyway.

CW – rape, mentions of war, beastiality, general assholery from the Greek gods



5 stars · book review

book review: The Poppy War by RF Kuang

4.5 out of 5 stars. Basically a 5 stars with only a minor deduction.

Guys, I’ve been excited for TPW by Rebecca Kuang for a very short time because it was on my radar breifly before it came out! But jfc when I heard about it I immediately jumped onto goodreads and marked as to-read because I swear this was like the kind of book I’ve always wanted to read/write. As a Chinese reader, I was BEYOND STOKED to be the first person to get my hands on this from my local library and right after I finished it, I bought my own copy. I’m in no way completely coherent in my review of this. There was just so much to talk about I don’t feel like my review as it is paints a picture of how good this book is.

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4 stars · 5 stars · book review

book review: Want by Cindy Pon

Want by Cindy Pon – 4.5/5  stars | Review cross-posted on Goodreads

iveneverbeenmoreproudI loved this book. I feel like the only way to do my GR review justice is to just copy/paste it here too and add a bit more so here we go.

* For people looking for good Asian rep in YA because I’m tired of people saying books with bad stereotypes from the eyes of Westerners are “good” rep for us ughhh. I suggest you to read this instead because Cindy Pon knows what my heart wants and she delivered and now my heart is three sizes too big and I have cardiomegaly.

**Spoiler-filled review below.

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5 stars · book review · Character Typing

book review: A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge 5/5 stars 🎉| Goodreads Review

I’m back from the UK! I went to Edinburgh for vacation and headed down to London for my graduation ceremony ;;; I’m still recovering from jet-lag but my jetlag from China seems to have reset, so now I only have a 6 hour difference to get over. Anyway! I bought A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge from the airport bookshop on a whim because it was shiny and it was about ghosts and I did not regret it at all. It seems to be a reoccuring theme that I invest heavily in historical or historical-based fantasy books all while history was my worst subject, but I can’t help it, it’s my niche.

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4 stars · 5 stars · book review

book review: The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson


Lia and Rafe and co. leave Venda and try to save their kingdoms from Komizar’s power hungry clutches.

1) Plot – Lots of twists and turns I could not predict. I’m always pleasantly surprised if it’s a good plot that I can’t completely figure out in one go.

2) Characters – Lia continues to be a motherfucking badass, Kaden gets justice, Rafe grows on me, Viceregent GETS THE ROAST, Lia’s parents get some nice moments, PAULINE ALSO IS A BADASS

Lia. My girl Lia. That girl was taking names in the second half of the book and I was shook. In a good way. She took control, made hard decisions, and got shit done. Golfer’s clap for you, MEP. It’s amazing to compare Lia in book 1 vs. book 3 Lia who basically became Morrighan’s king regent until she took over as queen of Venda after the battle. This is how you do character development (hand over heart).

Rafe – I actually did feel a lot for Rafe in the last book – his life is falling apart and he has to take command of his own kingdom plus also look out for Lia bc of love and also deal with his parents’ death. Boy has a lot on his plate. Rafe is so devoted to Lia (hand over heart) making some questionable decisions because he believes in her alkdsjfaefg.

Kaden – HE GOT JUSTICE MY SON GOT JUSTICE. I did miss the abundance of Kaden we had before. It just feels like there was significantly less of him because obviously Rafe is very important in this book.

Pauline is so unhinged and ready to take names and cut a bitch. She made me clutch my pearls. PAULINE. All while being preggo or post-preggo. I did think her interactions with Kaden were nice. I didn’t really see much basis for it, but for what we got it was still nice. Just nice.

Damn, I didn’t expect to like the king of Morrighan this much after just one chapter of him having it all figured out – being like “King Jaxon, you’re kneeling to the wrong person if you know what I mean…” damn. The queen too – even if we don’t see much of Lia’s parents, what we get is still solid.

3) Ending – MY GIRL LIA is the ~Queen~ of Venda. RAFE GREW MELONS FOR HER AND THEY’RE GONNA WORK THINGS OUT. aslkdfjasrer The long delayed happily ever after. Even the happily ever after trope is milked for all it’s worth. Kudos, MEP. Though, I did feel the Kaden x Pauline thing was rushed, but Rhys is a cute name for a baby (side glance I have an OC named Rhys). It’s not like I think they’re a bad match or anything, perhaps I’m missing the basis on why they should be together narrative-wise besides oh ye Kaden and Pauline get a happy ending.

Overall I enjoyed the ending of this series a lot. The writing was consistently well-done and while the premise for the series isn’t unique, the way MEP works them to her advantage is stellar. Lia is uncontested as my fave YA heroine because she doesn’t just throw quips around and poof shit’s done for her. She dragged herself through hardship to get where she is – she earned it and proved that she is enough and worthwhile – as an individual and as a leader. That’s not really something you often see developed to this sort of magnitude and with such intricate story-telling, in YA at least. The main trio are all solid characters in their own right. I only wish there were something more done with Kaden and Pauline.

I suppose the one main criticism for the entire series I have is that while its strength is that it does things that have been done before – but very well, it would have been nice to have some more unique elements included as well.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars