I also got a head-start on my December TBR in the last days of November. I’ve mentioned some of these books in the past but December’s my final chance to get to them this year! I’m determined to finally read them after delaying them for so long.
I’m currently reading this and I’m *really* enjoying it. My bestie chose this to be my current read and honestly I should trust her more often with choosing my TBR because she hasn’t lead me astray yet. I’m really liking the introduction to the world of Ace of Shades. Enne is revealed to be such a crouching tiger hidden badass. Levi is my precious character with a tragic past and ded mom (my brand!), and also our bi/pan? MOC deuteragonist. On top of that, there are also some interesting (and shady) characters that make New Reynes …colorful for better or worse
The Speaker – Traci Chee ☑️
I received this from the publisher along with an ARC of The Storyteller, the sequel of The Speaker and final book in the Sea of Ink and Gold Trilogy. The 1st book, the Reader, was a rough introduction to the series for me, but so far the 2nd installment is faring much better this time around. We finally got some Archer POV chapters, like I’d been asking for the entire time I was reading the Reader.
Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan ☑️
I received a copy from Fairyloot a bit earlier than the official US release date (Nov 6) so I’m very excited to get into this especially after all my failed attempts to get an ARC of this baby. The author’s note which was included with the Fairyloot edition really spoke to me on a personal level as a queer Asian. I’m ready for Natasha Ngan to lay all the feelings on me HHHHHHHHhhh
These Rebel Waves – Sara Raasch ☑️
Another Fairyloot book I’m trying to get to. I made some progress in the last month, but I kept book-hopping so I didn’t break much ground. For some reason I keep stumbling upon underrated books that have queer POC main characters?! And I keep wondering why haven’t I see any reviews telling me this?! I appreciate being surprised in a pleasant way because there was apparently some uproar about this book being falsely advertised as about “gay pirates” when it ended up being pirates and having queer characters that weren’t pirates. Yo, just because this book doesn’t have gay pirates, doesn’t mean there aren’t pirates and gays?! That’s still spectacular? It’s a little too early to say how I’ll like These Rebel Waves overall, but so far I don’t have any complaints.
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix – Julie Dao ☑️
Another book I tried hard to get my hands on as an ARC but failed. Alas, my library is pretty reliable about these new releases, so if all things go well I can read this around the time it comes out (Nov. 6, like many of the Asian-inspired YAs coming out this month!). The worldbuilding in Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was pretty enjoyable for me, though I had some issues with the story itself (primarily Xifeng’s development). It could just be that I dislike Evil Queen origin stories.
Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik ☑️
Spinning Silver’s been on my TBR backlog for MONTHS. I’ve had it in my possession for ages and never got to it.
The Cruel Prince – Holly Black ☑️
I actually checked . I wasn’t in the mood for fairies at the time, so I put my endeavor on hold until now. My post-October spoopy mood is still going strong. I did receive a Cruel Prince themed playing card deck, which spured my interest in the series again after I… definitely forgot about it amidst the hype surrounding it earlier this year and the previous year.
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)
To be honest, I side-eyed this book because I heard the advertizing posed it as a “Mulan retelling” which is a dishonest assessment of this book and misconstrues what the story of Mulan means and merely uses a kickass Asian story about family honor and filial piety to ellicit a Pavlovian response from consumers in order to sell a story with a white MC that has little to no connection with the actual ballad of Mulan and one that is definitely culturally divorced from it. The book has more in common with the Disney animated version of Mulan, as the beginning of the book borrows from the matchmaking aspect of the movie. I’m sure whoever came up with the idea to advertize this as anything related to Mulan never watched past the Bring Honor To Us All sequence. I think the other tagline “Jane Austen meets espionage” is a more accurate description of this book. As to whether it’s white-washing, well if we establish that this book is in fact NOT a Mulan retelling or Mulan ANYTHING… it is not. BUT I certainly fully feel the same rage as reviewers like Aila do. It’s stupid that y’all think you can just slap the name Mulan onto this loose whitelandia remix and make big bucks from it, and do not care about the culture or people theyre borrowing this idea/story from. It is gross that people think that they can pull this, but unfortunately publishing cares about the dough and if eliciting a response from consumers by merely UTTERING THE NAME Mulan works, they will do it. It was never about our culture; it is always about the profit. Whoever did this probably did not have the conscious intention to basically say this, but actions like this just propogate the idea that POC stuff is cool and valuable (only if white ppl do it tho), but f*ck the people who actually came up with it. It’s small and might not matter to a lot of people in this specific example, but it’s a byproduct of orientalism that is ingrained into Western society.
THAT whole spiel aside, the descriptors of people of color in this book are just awkward and/or weirdly worded. There’s an overuse of “dark” and “darker” to describe non-Demoran peoples e.g. the Astrielans (who are technically Demoran, but differ in appearance) and Kimisarans, and the writing itself uses the pale/coded-white Demorans as a reference for normal to be compared to. So far, I’m sure there is an in-universe shadism and/or colonialist dynamic going on. But, the writing lacks finesse in this department wrt describing “darker” skin tones and I wonder if Beaty should have considered using a sensitivity reader for this if she already hasn’t. I would understand it more if the Demorans called the Kimisarans “dark and foreign” and commented on their accents IF we indeed got the Kimisarans’ or Astrielans’ POV of these lilywhite Demorans. So far in the book, it appears one-sided, as we are mostly seeing from the eyes of Demorans. Yes, Quinn and ?? Rob?? are described as being “darker” than Sage because of their Astriel heritage, but so far they only have generic military procedure going on for them.
2. Jade City by Fonda Lee
This was initially a slow start for me, but once I got past a few chapters, I knew I was ready to inhale-read this book! I don’t know why it took me so long to hop on the Jade City wagon, but I’m so glad I picked this up. I had no idea it would center so much around family and honor – I didn’t read cover tagline, ok? That’s my shit right there. I love that stuff. I say this only after reading 30 pages of this story. I’m trying to figure out what era this is supposedly set in. I have a feeling this is what I wished Legend of Korra were like. And if you’ve chatted with me about Avatar for any amount of time, you would know exactly where I stand with the state of ATLA and LOK and Bryke and all that business.