Most Anticipated Read of April: King of Fools by Amanda Foody, sequel to Ace of Shades, which I adore. I’m ready for some more shady underworld activity ushered by local noble youths.
Favorite Read in March: The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao! I adored this book. I was lucky enough to win an ARC copy of this from Katie Zhao’s twitter giveaway. TDW is truly a delight and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a middle grade book with some cool mythology and adventure, but I would ESPECIALLY recommend it to diaspora readers because it made me feel all warm and tingly on the inside after finishing it as an OwnVoices reader. Plus, the cover is illustrated by Vivienne To who is also responsible for my much beloved Kiranmala and the Kingdom of Beyond book covers.
Least Favorite Read in March: Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian, sequel to Ash Princess. I filmed a video review of it, so please look out for that in the future. This just felt like a rehash of the first book, down to the events of the climax.
Note: I’ll be going on a trip to Shanghai and Suzhou later this month. I’m not in the habit of bringing a trunk of books to read, but I’ll probably bring one or two along for my flights and downtime.
Hello all, I’m emerging from the polar vortex that is the US Midwest right now. Hopefully those experiencing the cold too are keeping warm! January was a very taxing month on me, but I still got through the following reads:
The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle | 4/5 stars
The Last Namsara – Kristin Ciccarelli |DNF
The Norse Myths: A Guide to the Gods and Heroes – Carolyne Larrington
Descendant of the Crane – Joan He|review| 3.5/5 stars
The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi |review | 4.25 stars
Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik |3 stars
Overall, it’s intersting that one of my busiest months in awhile was also my most productive reading month in a long time! I started off my Artemis Fowl Read-AlongThrough this month, and I hope to be able to do it consistently all the way up to August just in time for the Artemis Fowl movie.
Most-anticipated read: Kakuriyo. LBR I love that fox and foody content. I already know Kakuriyo will delivery on all its promises. However, the Wicked King was my most anticipated novel for January and baby… it’s not delivery but it’s not Digiorno either. My impression is that they had to stretch the story into a trilogy because of how lacking TWK was. I’m curious to see how Holly Black ends the series, but I don’t have high expectations.
Favorite book of January: The Gilded Wolves, hands down! My monthly banner uses the cover art because I loved it so much. I actually didn’t even have this book on my radar much, but my library had it so I picked it up on impulse and I have no regrets! After my painful experience reading Six of Crows, reading the Gilded Wolves was extremely cathartic because of Roshani Chokshi’s poignant commentary about her characters’ marginalizations, which was something that I always felt didn’t ring as true in Bardugo’s work.
Least favorite book: It’s gotta be a tie between Spinning Silver and the Wicked King. I probably won’t even write a full review of Spinning Silver because it wasn’t worth my time. I found Descendant of the Crane to be a mixed bag because it was a frustrating read, but I couldn’t bring myself to hate it because of the ending.
*Sighs*. I want to believe that Mary E. Pearson writes the first books in her series as slow-starters. I found myself infinitely frustrated with how she handled the romance between the leads, Jase and Kazi, in DoT, along with how flat and despicable the Rahtan are. I’m especially let-down as a returning fan of the Remnant Chronicles. I don’t suggest DoT as an introduction to the world of the Remnant Chronicles. It’s better to start off with Kiss of Deception. I will note that there’s a failure to draw on the same appeal of the Remnant Chronicles in this continuation as of now. I know MEP can do better than this and I hope she brings her A-game in the future installments or else I’m bowing out. – 3/5 stars
I was rather disappointed given the high praise the series has received from both readers and other authors. I can only assume it gets better with subsequent books, because the first installment didn’t impress with its severe lack in focus and Walk in the Woods plot. – 2/5 stars
I didn’t get far in this book. I didn’t feel like it had much to offer in the wave of sea/pirate YA books being churned out this season. To be honest, many of the other ones I’ve seen have been lackluster as well, namely To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. I remember a cry for sea/pirate-themed books a couple years back and now the publishers have delivered only to be washed away with the current they helped generate OTL. – DNF
We’ve finally reached the conclusion of the Conquerer’s Saga! I haven’t been along for the ride since the beginning and I’m sorta glad. Otherwise I’d have to wait years to slog through this when I could just slog through this in less than a year. I honestly do really like Kiersten White’s writing. I just don’t think this was a particularly transformative story for Lada or Mehmed at all. Also, I’m still sore that they straight-washed Mehmed. I quite like Radu, but I would have much rather the book explored Mehmed and Radu’s relationship than follow Lada’s fruitless struggle. – 2/5 stars
Wow. Um. So I’m allowed to be angry over this as a biology major and as someone who bought this book via Fairyloot. This book gave me costochrondritis, and I don’t mean it in a facetious way; I mean it in a literal way. This book needed someone to fact check a lot of the science in this. Additionally, I felt there was an artificial shift in quality 80-90% of the way through where things were supposed to make sense and fall into place because the author said so. The ending is quite good, but doesn’t offset the 80% of badness it takes to get there. – 2/5 stars
Can I just breathe in the glory that is Madeline Miller’s writing? This is a slower paced book than what I usually read, and it was so, so welcome. Madeline Miller already earned my heart and money with The Song of Achilles (I own two copies) and she continues to deliver here. I love the gradual change in Circe over the years and how she approaches her divinity as a god that appears more mortal than most. I also never expected to like Telemachus this much over Odysseus. The way Miller writes Odysseus’ hubris and Circe’s need to be in control of her own story is (crying emoji) beyond words. I hope Madeline Miller’s next book doesn’t take too long to get into my hands. I’ll read whatever she wants to write. – 5/5 stars SLAM DUNK IT INTO MY FAVES.
I still have a large backlog of books to get to! Currently I’m reading Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson (MEP!). If you recall from my past reviews of the Remnant Chronicles, I loooo~ooooved that series. I had high expecations for Dance of Thieves and MEP. The beginning 100 pages is rather slow, but the first book in the Remnant Chronicles was slow for me too. I wonder if it’s MEP’s M.O. to start slow and then sneak attack the reader with brilliance? Because after the Lost in the Wilderness arc, things pick up drastically. Jase’s character is very interesting and multi-faceted. I can’t say I’ve warmed up to Kazi, the other MC, yet, even with her tragic backstory because it’s oddly reminiscent of Inej’s tragic backstory from SOC, which leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not sure how I feel about the romance btw Jase and Kazi, as how I feel about a relationship depends a lot on how much I like both characters.
I’m also reading Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake. I totally DNF’d a book with a similar setting, Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young, because I didn’t feel like the story had much to offer me despite the fact that I do love me some viking influence. I feel like Beyond a Darkened Shore has more potential. The MC, Ciara, has strange powers and we’re given more information about her family life and position in society and it makes her feel more whole early on. The first action scene in this book was awesome, and it further establishes Ciara’s skillset AND the conflict between Northmen and Ciara’s people. I’m optimistic.
I read Stieg Larson’s Millenium Trilogy years ago when I was still studying for my SATs. I have the physical copy of the continuation of his series by another author from Half Price Books and it’s Chunky. I decided to experiment with audibooks from my library – I’m listening to The Girl in the Spider’s Web while I do other work on the computer. I’m hoping I absorb enough of the book to write a review, but I zone out a lot.
Here’s some other books I hope to get to (carry-over from last month lol)
This summer has been a season of self-discovery for me creatively. I’ve also had the pleasure of beta-reading a friend’s work, and it’s really affirming my media literacy for YA LOL but also it shows no matter how much I can get frustrated at mainstream YA, I still have a love and appreciation for my fantasy YAs. I’m so glad I can play my part in bringing something awesome into being.
This month I read 5 books, which is around average for a me with free time, I guess.
Jade City – Fonda Lee | 3.5 to 4 stars
It’s like my dad ghost-wrote one of the main characters in this book and I was living with all the family-dynamics included here.
To Kill a Kingdom – Alexandra Christo | 2 stars
My least favorite of the bunch by a long run. This had awesome concepts but a flimsy execution. You know a romance is unconvincing when the text chooses to skip over all the detailed, poignant interactions between the two romantic leads and instead summarizes what happens.
The Queen’s Rising – Rebecca Ross | 4 stars
The overall reaction to this book I’ve seen on my Goodreads feed is that this was boring and this was yet again another instance I questioned people’s judgements hard. This was a surprisingly wholesome addition to the fantasy YA pool. It can even work as a stand-alone, however I feel some aspects were tied up a little too conveniently given that there will be a sequel. I personally wish a certain character weren’t killed off at the very end, but since the deed is done, I wonder what Ross is going to do in the sequel.
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings – edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman | 3.5 stars
This was an anthology I was excited to get my hands on because my fave Cindy Pon was featured in it. Overall, I’d say the quality varies from story to story and one might work for you which will not work for me. I think that’s the beauty of it – people can have a selection of stories to identify or not identify with. My personal faves were Cindy Pon’s the Crimson Cloak (no surprise here) and Alyssa Wong’s Olivia’s Table
Captive Prince – C. S. Pacat | 4 stars
This was an impulse Buddy Read with the lovely L. C. Perry because I had been saying for awhile that I wanted to do a Captive Prince series reread. When L.C. asked me to join her, I jumped on the chance so fast a;ldjksf;lkdjsf. Capri is still as good as when I read it first. I inhale-read the Capri series in maybe a week’s time back in college (during final’s week RIP) and loved it, but I definitely read it so quickly I felt I missed a lot of important details and didn’t properly appreciate the experience.
This month I actively went to and fro the library. Many books were checked out and never read, but I managed to finish a few.
Manga / Comics / Graphic Novels
The Girl from the Other Side Vol 1 – 4/5 stars
Rat Queens vol 1 – 2/5 stars – I was not a fan of the art, or the crassness. I suppose that is the appeal for some but it wasn’t for me. The lining seemed unprofessional; it was like they took the sketches and just colored over it. I really liked Dee’s character design, though.
Wonder Woman: Love and Murder – 3/5 stars – The art was really nice, but I had a hard time believing that was ACTUALLY Hippolyta.
Wonder Woman: The Odyssey vol. 1 – 3/5 stars – Not a particularly interesting storyline
The Prince and the Dressmaker – Jen Wang – 5/5 stars – BEAUTIFUL, COLORFUL, EVERYTHING. This is how you panel comics. I’ve always had such a problem with the way some graphic novels are structure each page, but I literally read this in 15 minutes. It was a breeze.
The Falconer – Elizabeth May – 3/5 stars. Enjoyable read, but nothing mind-blowing. The main couple reminded me a lot of a healthier/less annoying version of Rowealin. I did not buy into their attraction, but they were tolerable for the most part. I prefered Gavin, but the writer made it clear Aileana wasn’t into him the way I was.
I cannot even with this book. I will say it reads faster than its predecessor. I only worry about the subsequent books and how they portray Drycht because the way they treat Daanoris wasn’t exactly subtle.
Let’s Talk About Love – Claire Kann – 3.75/5 stars – Pretty sweet and short. In my opinion the characters were a bit underdeveloped. Glad to see an ace protagonist of color appearing in YA books. All I can say is I want MORE!!!!