Retellings Reading Challenge Mid-Year Check-In

I’m having an absolute ball with this reading challenge. So far I’ve read 4 novellas and 14 books. I’ve DNF’d seven additional books.

I’ve included some bullet points about each book, and where possible I’ve linked to my reviews. I also indicate any books I’ve used for the bingo card.

1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of The Iliad
  • From Patroclus’ POV
  • LGBT+ representation (m/m)
  • Explores gender roles, violence and patriarchy
  • Very much about relationship between Achilles and Patroclus

2. Here, the World Entire by Anwen Kya Hayward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Medusa and Perseus
  • CW: Sexual assault
  • Medusa meditating on some key moments in life
  • Poignant and a bit sad
  • Beautifully written. No superfluous words.

3. For the Immortal by Emily Hauser ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of many Greek myths from POV of Admete and Hippolyta
  • Should have read series in order
  • Interesting concept and characters
  • Bingo card: Weapon on the cover

4. Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon
  • Magical whimsical atmosphere
  • Took inspiration from other tales and folklore
  • Magical mirror library where you can enter books
  • Bingo card: Debut

5. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of the Goose Girl
  • Bingo card: Written 10+ years ago
  • Liked magic system- ability to communicate with different classes of things- animals, people, plants and elements. Takes practice, not randomly bestowed
  • Themes of friendship, personal strength and values

6. The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Oedipus and Antigone myths
  • Realistic explanations for fantastical elements
  • Both first and third person POV (Ismene and Jocasta respectively)
  • Beautifully plotted and written with interesting characters
  • Bingo card: Set in a foreign country

7. Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of The Snow Queen
  • Fantastic gender/LGBT+ representation (bi, lesbian, transgender, plural etc.)
  • Two MCs have mirror shards Queen is searching for embedded in their hearts
  • Theme of colonisation throughout
  • Creepy awesome magic system- ghosts used as power

8. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
  • Disability representation- MC has cerebral palsy
  • Romance was sweet and slow
  • Liked twist on original- Rhen is only a beast part time
  • Good character development
  • Twist at the end was predictable
  • Probably won’t continue series because it felt like a standalone
  • Bingo card: Beauty and the Beast

9. Stain by A.G. Howard ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of The Princess and the Pea fairytale
  • Writing and worldbuilding were gorgeous and evocative
  • Very long and pacing slow at times
  • Liked the new twists in plot- was reminiscent of some other fairytales as well
  • New favourite character is Crony
  • Bawled my eyes out like a baby near the end
  • Bingo card: Over 500 pages

10. Alcestis by Katherine Beutner DNF 65%

  • Retelling of Alcestis myth
  • Life story of Alcestis
  • Some good worldbuilding
  • Very slow pace
  • Plot went in a direction I wasn’t interested in pursuing, went from PG to MA in matter of pages

11. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust * ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Snow White fairytale
  • LGBT+ representation (f/f)
  • Explores expectations and women being forced to see other women as threats
  • Family dynamic between father, daughter and stepmother
  • Bingo card: Standalone

12. The Silver-Handled Knife by Frances Thomas DNF 12%

  • Retelling of The Oresteia from Elektra’s POV
  • Didn’t like writing- felt it was telling me, not showing me

13. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood fairytale
  • Disability representation- prince is an amputee
  • Set in French inspired world
  • Liked religion versus pagan belief system
  • Court politics and intrigue
  • Magical forest that is home to monsters

14. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore * ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Snow White and Rose Red fairytale + Swan Lake ballet
  • LGBT+ representation (transgender, lesbian)
  • Bingo card: Brothers Grimm
  • Quiet book, beautiful writing
  • Del Cisne family is cursed to lose one of every two daughters to the wild swans
  • Very character driven- follows Blanca and Roja as well as two local boys, Page and Yearling
  • Magic retains sense of mystery and quality of being ultimately unknowable

15. The Cold is in her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale * ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Alleged retelling of Medusa myth
  • More inspired by myth than retelling
  • Looks at fear of female power
  • Contains snakes and curses and girls who have opinions and ask questions

16. White Lotus by Libbie Hawker DNF 35%

  • Retelling of Cinderella fairytale based on original variant about a hetaera named Doricha
  • Set in Ancient Egypt
  • Blends historical facts and fiction

17. In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard * ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
  • Vietnamese inspired world
  • Environmentally damaged world
  • LGBT+ representation (lesbian or bisexual)
  • Dragon in a mind-bending castle

18. Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Theseus and Minotaur myth
  • Told from Ariadne and Theseus’ POV
  • Gives realistic explanations for fantastical elements of original myth
  • Explores religion and female power
  • Bingo card: Greek

19. The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard * ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Conan-Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes
  • Main characters are a sentient spaceship with PTSD, and a drug addicted literati with weird interests
  • Fast paced and very short (88 pages if I remember correctly)
  • Tantalising glimpse of Xuya universe
  • Mysterious deaths in space
  • Bingo card: Set in space

20. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes * ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of The Iliad by Homer
  • Female perspectives
  • Explores meaning of heroism
  • Well researched
  • Writing gave each different woman distinctive voice
  • Bingo card: 2019 release

21. Unmarriageable by Sonia Kamal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Retelling of Pride and Prejudice
  • Set in Pakistan
  • Fun, familiar read
  • Explored culture, religion, and gender roles
  • Bingo card: Bronte or Austen

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22. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao DNF 62%

  • Retelling/prequel of Snow White fairytale
  • Evil Queen’s backstory
  • Asian inspired setting
  • Court politics

23. Teeth in the Mist By Dawn Kurtagich DNF 51%

  • Retelling of Faust myth
  • Two female leads living centuries apart
  • Creepy atmosphere
  • Meandering pace

24. Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett DNF 32%

  • Retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest
  • Set after the events in the play, so more of a sequel
  • LGBT+ representation (f/f)
  • Mystery surrounding Miranda’s mother
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#YARC 2019 Mid Year Check In

As it’s the end of June I thought I’d do a check in of all the books I’ve read so far this year for Year of the Asian Reading Challenge. My list looks pretty dismal, but I only signed up at the end of April.

In total I’ve read 3 novellas, 1 short story collection, and 8 novels. In addition I DNF’d one book at 62 percent.

I’ve included some dot points to tell you a bit about each one, and I’ve linked to my finished reviews (sadly, many are still in the process of being written.)

1. Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇹🇭 Thai

  • Snow Queen retelling
  • Fantastic gender/LGBT+ representation
  • Creepy magic system

2. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇵🇭 Filipina

  • Necromancy and elemental magic
  • LGBT+ representation
  • Monsters
  • Explores gender roles and power
  • Revenge

3. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇵🇭🇮🇳 Filipina-Indian

  • Magical heist
  • Set in France, 1889
  • Racial diversity
  • LGBT+ representation

4. In The Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇻🇳 French- Vietnamese

  • Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
  • Vietnamese inspired world
  • Environmentally damaged world
  • LGBT+ representation
  • Dragon in a mind-bending castle

5. The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇵🇭 Filipina

  • LGBT+ representation
  • Revenge
  • Monsters
  • Necromancy and elemental magic
  • Action packed

6. The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇻🇳 French- Vietnamese

  • Retelling of Sherlock Holmes
  • Main characters are a sentient spaceship with PTSD, and a drug addicted literati with weird interests
  • Fast paced and very short (88 pages if I remember correctly)
  • Tantalising glimpse of Xuya universe
  • Mysterious deaths in space

7. Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇰🇷 South Korean

  • SFF short story collection
  • Inspired by mathematics, physics, philosophy
  • Themes of war, colonialism, language
  • Beautiful writing

8. Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇵🇰 Pakistani

  • Retelling of Pride and Prejudice
  • Set in Pakistan
  • Fun, familiar read
  • Explored culture, religion, and gender roles

9. Want by Cindy Pon ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇹🇼 Taiwanese

  • High tech heist
  • Set in future Taipei, Taiwan
  • Pollution, illness, environmental destruction
  • Gap between rich and poor
  • Star crossed lovers (sort of)

10. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao DNF 62% 🇻🇳 Vietnamese

  • Retelling of Snow White/backstory of The Evil Queen
  • Asian inspired setting
  • Court politics

11. The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇫🇯 Fijian

  • Set in fictional city on The Silk Road
  • Racial and religious diversity
  • Djinn + magic
  • Food references
  • Awesome female characters

12. The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇸🇬 Singaporean

  • LGBT+ representation
  • Children are genderless until they choose
  • Elemental magic based on five Chinese elements
  • Rise of industrialisation which threatens magical/political power of elites
  • Rebellion
  • Twins

13. Descendant of the Crane by Joan He ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🇨🇳 Chinese

  • Murder mystery
  • Law trial
  • Illegal magic
  • Court intrigue/politics
  • Complicated family relationships

 

SFF by Asian Authors || Recommendations

Today I’m recommending Science Fiction and Fantasy books by Asian authors. My definition of Asian is pretty broad, ranging from India to Japan to the Pacific Islands. It also includes authors whose heritage is Asian, but who were born elsewhere – the UK, for example. The point is less about where they’re from, and more about how they identify.

I think I’ve given a pretty good range in terms of heritage, age range, and themes, so I hope you enjoy!

[Side note: All synopses in italics are from Goodreads. I tried to write my own synopsis for the ones I read, but it didn’t always happen.]

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The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo 🇲🇾

Chinese-Malaysian

Historical Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Ghost Bride is set in Malacca, Malaysia in 1893. It follows Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family. Having few prospects, she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become the bride of their recently deceased son, who died under mysterious circumstances. What follows is part ghost story, part mystery, part adventure, as Li Lan finds herself haunted by her would-be groom, and journeys through a shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife every night.

I loved how The Ghost Bride blended historical fiction, cultural practices, and mythology together. It has been a few years since I read it, but I still think it’s worth recommending. There are ghosts, and vengeful spirits, dark family secrets, and a mysterious, but charming guardian spirit, Er Lang.

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The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi 🇮🇳🇵🇭

American-born Indian-Filipino

Young Adult Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Maya is cursed with a horoscope that foretells of a marriage of death. She is content to occupy herself with scholarly pursuits, she is shocked when her father arranges a political marriage to quell outside rebellions. Maya finds herself queen of Akaran and the wife of Amar. Both the kingdom, and the king, are nothing like what they seem, and both are shrouded in mysteries Maya must solve.

The Star-Touched Queen is a beautifully written retelling of Hades & Persephone with Indian inspired mythology. What I love the most about it is the gorgeous world. Everything was so magical and so detailed that I was completely transported there. I also loved the sequel, A Crown of Wishes, and highly recommend that one too.

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee 🇰🇷

American-born Korean, Transgender, Queer

Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Story Collection

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Conservation of Shadows is a collection of short stories that blends sci-fi and fantasy. The writing was absolutely gorgeous – it had this lilting kind of quality to it. The stories vary widely, but they often draw on philosophy, physics, and philosophy. They also share some common themes, ranging from war, colonialism, revenge, and language.

Two of my favourites were ‘Ghostweight,‘ which involves origami, spaceships, colonialism and revenge; as well as ‘Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain,’ which involves guns with very specific abilities.

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A Thousand Beginnings and Endings ed. Ellen Oh

Young Adult Fantasy Short Story Anthology

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

This is an absolutely fantastic collection of stories inspired by Asian mythology. There were a couple that really stood out – ‘The Land of the Morning Calm’ by E.C. Myers, which features Korean gumiho and modern technology; and ‘The Crimson Cloak’ by Cindy Pon, which is a retelling of The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco 🇵🇭

Chinese-Filipino

Young Adult Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Honestly, I’m not even sure any synopsis I write will be adequate. The Bone Witch is about a girl named Tea who can resurrect the dead, and her journey to become an asha (essentially a magical geisha). But it is so much more than that. It’s got witches and monsters, revenge and political intrigue, necromancy and elemental magic. It explores themes such as gender and power, among other things.

This first book really lays out the groundwork for future books, focusing on worldbuilding and introducing the characters. The second instalment, The Heart Forger, has a lot more action. I haven’t read the final book yet because I really just don’t want it to end.

Want by Cindy Pon

Taiwanese

Young Adult Science Fiction

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Want is essentially a high-tech heist set in future Taipei, where pollution and environmental destruction have completely divided society. The rich and corrupt wear special suits that protect them from pollution and disease, while the poor suffer illness and early death. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and grieving his mother’s death, Jason Zhou and his friends make it their mission to change things, no matter the cost.

The plan is to infiltrate and destroy Jin Corporation, the company that manufactures he suits the rich rely on. But things don’t go to plan, and Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO.

What I appreciated was the realistic portrayal of environmental destruction and its results – not just the physical ones, like disease, but also the social/class divides that are further compound the problem. I personally found the plot a bit predictable, but the themes and worldbuilding and characters were all well done.

Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew 🇹🇭

Thai

Fantasy Novella

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Winterglass is an LGBT+ Asian retelling of The Snow Queen. Many elements from the original tale remain – the Winter Queen seeks fragments of a mirror whose power will grant her deepest desire. In this novella she conquers other countries and turns them into lands of unending snow and frost. Her right hand is General Lussadh whose heart bears a mirror shard. She is loyal, but tormented by her past as a traitor to her country.

Our story takes place in Sirapirat, where General Lussadh, tasked with finding other mirror shards, finds Nuawa, an insurgent who’s forged herself into a weapon to strike down the queen.

The strengths of this novella lay in its themes. It completely normalised of all sorts of varieties of gender and sexuality. For example, General Lussadh is biologically male, but identifies as female. It explores the experience of colonisation, and how it affects not just the physical aspects of life, but also a group’s collective psyche. The other thing I really liked was the creepy magic system – ghosts are literally used as a power source.

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang 🇸🇬

Singaporean, non-binary and queer

Fantasy Novella

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Black Tides of Heaven is one of a pair of novellas introducing us to the world of the Tensorate series.

Mokoya and Akeha, twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. When Mokoya developed the gift of prophecy, their lives change dramatically. As time rolls on Akeha begins to see the problems at the heart of his Mother’s Protectorate. Unwilling to continue being a pawn in her schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebel Machinists. But every step toward the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya.

This novella had a lot going on, and yet it didn’t feel rushed at all. I loved the relationship between Akeha and his twin sister, Mokoya. I loved the LGBT+ representation. This is a world in which all children are genderless until they choose. Even the elemental based magic system had an interesting twist. It’s called slack craft and is based on the five Chinese elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Wood/Forest).

I also appreciated the exploration of power, both magical and political, and how this was concentrated in the elite and educated classes. I also liked that the central conflict is bound around the development of machines, which would give the lower classes power.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Young Adult Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Chinese – American author 🇨🇳

When her father dies, Princess Hesina of Yan commits treason. Convinced that her father was murdered, she engages the services of a soothsayer whose magic was outlawed centuries ago. Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain who else to trust, Hesina turns to Akira, a brilliant investigator and convicted criminal with a mysterious past.

This Chinese-inspired fantasy has a bit of everything. A murder mystery, court politics, intrigue, the looming threat of war, a legal trial, a complicated family dynamic, soothsayers, forbidden magic, and persecution, just to name a few…

I read this in only two sittings, which is rare for me. It’s also the third book I’ve given 5 stars to this year. It is completely addictive, and I cannot recommend it enough.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir 🇵🇰

UK-born Pakistani-American

Young Adult Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s funny that I can’t think of a way to give an overview of this book because I talked about it all the time on my YouTube channel (RIP.) Instead I’ll just use the synopsis from Goodreads.

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

I think an Ember in the Ashes achieves the trifecta – great characters, phenomenal worldbuilding, and an action packed plot. It explores themes of colonialism, imperialism and genocide in a really sensitive but not overly depressing way.

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad 🇫🇯

Fiji born, lives in Canada

Young Adult Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. But less than a decade ago a tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered the entire population – except for Fatima, her adoptive sister, and one other. Now Noor, and the nation of Qirat, are ruled by a new maharajah and protected by Ifrit djinn, led by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most powerful of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, and she finds herself drawn into the lives of the djinn and the royal family.

What I loved about this book was the racial and religious diversity, the fabulous world, the strong female characters, and the fascinating plot.

On My TBR

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Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri🇮🇳

Uk born

Young Adult Fantasy

A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

born india

Young Adult Fantasy

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, one of a handful of sisterhoods of highly trained elite warriors. Armed with blades whose metal is imbued with magic and guided by a strict code of conduct, the Orders are sworn to keep the peace and protect the people of Asiana. Kyra has pledged to do so—yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her murdered family.

When Tamsyn, the powerful and dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. She is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof.

Kyra escapes through one of the strange Transport Hubs that are the remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past and finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of a desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a disillusioned Marksman whose skill with a blade is unmatched. He understands the desperation of Kyra’s quest to prove Tamsyn’s guilt, and as the two grow closer, training daily on the windswept dunes of Khur, both begin to question their commitment to their Orders. But what they don’t yet realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is thin . . . as thin as the blade of a knife.

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

born india

Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

Recent/Upcoming Releases:

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho 25 June 🇰🇷 South Korean

Young Adult Fantasy

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim 30 July 🇨🇳

Chinese

Young Adult Fantasy

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

DNF Reviews|| Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, Teeth in the Mist & Miranda in Milan

Triple DNF review time. All three were retellings, and two of them started off really well. Read on to find out more.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Retelling/prequel of Snow White

Vietnamese/Asian inspired setting

DNF 66%

I was really looking forward to reading this book, because I love retellings, and I was interested to see the treatment Dao would give to The Evil Queen’s backstory.

Firstly, I loved the change of setting. The worldbuilding was interesting, and I kind of felt like I was watching an Asian drama with all the court politics and beautiful scenery and costumes. Obviously the plot was a bit limited in where it could go because this is a retelling/backstory, but since that’s part of the reason I like retellings this didn’t bother me.

My problem was with the main character, Xifeng. I didn’t really like her, which I was expecting, because she has to become a villain. What I couldn’t stand was having absolutely no understanding of her motivation, and her wishy washy feelings toward everyone.

For example, she hates her aunt who treats her badly, but then she states that she cares about her, but there’s no indication as to why. We’re just expected to accept it because it’s stated. There are no loving flashbacks to support such a claim. Another example: she loves the village boy, but she doesn’t, and apparently just uses him to get to the palace. But then she is really doing it for him, so he can fulfil his dream to join the army. Or something.

As for her motivation, aside from her horoscope saying she is destined to be Empress of Feng Lu, I can’t understand why she chooses to follow that path. She doesn’t seem to really desire that outcome, so there’s no real impetus to do so. If she truly believed that it was her destiny and in the infallibility of prophecies, I could understand. Overall, I think she lacks conviction. In trying to make Xifeng a sympathetic and likeable character, I feel like it ended up making her weak, indecisive and incomprehensible.

That being said, I’m not ruling out the possibility of trying to re-read this again in the future.

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

Retelling of Faust

Young Adult Horror

Set primarily in Wales, UK

DNF 51%

Firstly, background. The Faust legend is about a man who makes a deal with the devil. In exchange for knowledge and a demon’s service for a set number of years he promises to give the devil his soul. There are variations of course, but that is the basic story. So when I saw that this book was coming out I was interested to give it a go.

This book follows three girls living in different centuries, all of whom are connected in some way to Medwyn Mill House in Wales. The first is Hermione Smith, a young wife living in the 16th century. Her story is told through the occasional diary entry, and chronicles her husband’s obsession with building the house on a rocky, inhospitable mountain. The second is Roan, who becomes a ward of Dr Maudley who lives at Mill House. Roan and the other two new wards all have secrets, and some mysterious connection to an ancient secret. The final girl is Zoey, a sixteen year old photography student who journeys to Mill House in the present to uncover the mystery of what happened to her father. Her story is told through transcripts of film diaries.

I was hooked for most of the first half of the book. The atmosphere was haunting, and the mystery was really compelling. I especially liked Roan’s perspective. As I hit the half way mark it felt like not much was happening, and there hadn’t been much in the way of plot progression at all. It didn’t help that I wasn’t that interested in Zoey’s point of view at all.

For a different reader, I think this would probably be a great story. I have seen quite a few 5 star reviews around. It just wasn’t for me. I like a bit of thrill and horror, but I also like a faster pace.

Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett

Retelling/ Sequel of The Tempest by Shakespeare

Young Adult Fantasy Novella

Set in Italy

DNF 32%

I’ll start by saying I know very little about The Tempest. It isn’t a play I ever read or studied, so my knowledge is very superficial. Nevertheless, I thought a young adult retelling would be an interesting way to find out more. What I discovered was that this is not a retelling. It is more of a sequel.

This book promises a sapphic relationship between Miranda and her new friend/maid Dorothea, along with a mystery regarding Miranda’s mother. Unfortunately I couldn’t muster up much enthusiasm for either. There are pretty much only two characters in the  first third of the book. The dialogue between them feels pretty unnatural, and the development of their relationship goes from 0 to 100 in about 2 pages. Aside from that, I had no huge problems.

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

1. Best Book you’ve read so far in 2019

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This had a bit of everything – political intrigue, law, a mysterious death, complex family dynamics, the looming threat of war. I was absolutely hooked to the very end. I read it in two sittings (which is rare for me.)

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

While The Bone Witch laid down all the foundations of worldbuilding and character introduction, The Heart Forger delivers on action, and plot twists.

3. New release you haven’t read, but want to

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

This is meant to be a feminist fantasy. With dragons. I’m just a little intimidated by the size of it.

4. Most anticipated release for second half of 2019

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

All I really know about this is that it’s written by Erin Morgenstern, and it’s about a mysterious book and an ancient library.

5. Biggest disappointment

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I rated both of these books three stars, so they aren’t terrible books by any means. I just went in to them with high expectations, and they just didn’t blow me away.

6. Biggest surprise

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I had few expectations when I started this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, told from alternating points of view of Ariadne and Theseus.

7. Favourite new author (new to you or debut)

Natalie Haynes is my new favourite authors. I’ve read both of these novels this year and gave them five stars. A Thousand Ships is a female-centred retelling of The Iliad, and The Children of Jocasta is a retelling of the myths of Oedipus and Antigone. They are engaging, well researched, and extremely well written.

8. Newest fictional crush

I don’t do fictional crushes. I never have. I never will.

9. Newest favourite character

Stain by A.G. Howard ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crony from Stain is the character that had the most impact on me this year. Her character arc had me bawling my eyes out. I was absolutely sobbing.

10. Book that made you cry

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The ending of this book made me cry, but in a good way. This is such a fantastic standalone, and I can’t recommend it enough.

11. Book that made you happy

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This Pride and Prejudice retelling set in Pakistan was a fun, easy read. It wasn’t a literary masterpiece, or super surprising, but it was enjoyable, which is sometimes all I want.

12. Favourite book to movie (Or television) adaptation you’ve seen this year

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

13. Favourite review you’ve written this year

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought or received so far this year

The Binding by Bridget Collins

The physical copy of this book is so beautiful it hurts. It’s probably one of the first books I bought solely because of the cover. Luckily it sounds like it’s going to be interesting too.

15. Books you need to read by the end of the year

The Diviners by Libba Bray

My Dad bought me the first three books in the series for Christmas last year, and I really should get around to reading them.

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

I love Tessa Gratton’s writing, and I love retellings, so I am really looking forward to this rendition of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Why I Write DNF Reviews

Since I started blogging I’ve often come across people saying they don’t write DNF reviews, for whatever reason. While I understand their decisions, I personally do write DNF reviews.

My stance is that DNF reviews are just as important as rave reviews. That being said, I think they need to be as respectful as any other review. I know from experience.

Last year I wrote a scathing DNF review, and I feel absolutely awful about it now, because I went back, read the book again, and absolutely loved it.

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So now, when I write a DNF review I still try to include all the same elements as my other reviews. I try to convey the things I did like about the book as well as what I didn’t. The most important part for me is probably explaining why I chose not to finish the book.

When I was younger I’d force myself to finish every book I started (even if it took me 3 years). I’m now of the opinion that it’s okay to put down a book I’m not enjoying, or that I’m just not in the mood for right now. My time is precious, and I want to read things that I’m really interested in.

If I have invested time and money into a book, I think I have the right to share my opinion. I recognise that the author and many others in the publishing community have also put their time, energy, and possibly money, into the production of the books I’m reviewing, so what I say is never an attack on them and their hard work.

The way I think of it is that I am giving constructive criticism. If the author reads a bunch of reviews saying that the pacing in the middle was really slow, they have the opportunity to work on that in their next book.

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I am aware that there is a possibility that my reviews may affect other readers’ decision to pick up a book. This doesn’t weigh heavily on me, because I am only one voice. It isn’t my job to promote every book I read. I am not getting any sort of remuneration for writing reviews. I don’t even request or receive ARCs anymore.

If I was a vastly more popular blogger, or a social media influencer, perhaps I would reconsider my position on DNF reviews. Since that is not the case, I will continue to post the content I choose to. Including DNF reviews.

Let’s Chat!

What do you think of DNF reviews? Do you think they’re useful? Do you write them yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

T10T|| Most Anticipated Releases Of the Second Half of 2019

Yes, I’m aware that this is meant to be a ‘top 10,’ but I was planning to do this post anyway, and I have sooo many books I’m looking forward to.

July

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Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

YA Fantasy

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh

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The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

YA Fantasy

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

August

Gods of Jade and Shadows by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Historical Fantasy

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

“Simultaneously heartbreaking and heart-mending, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a wondrous and magical tale about choosing our own path.”—Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

YA Fantasy

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

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The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czerneda

Fantasy

From an Aurora Award-winning author comes a new fantasy epic in which one mage must stand against a Deathless Goddess who controls all magic.

Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.

Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage.

For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die.

To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive.

September

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Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

YA Fantasy

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

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There Will Come Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

YA Fantasy

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes.

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Gideon the Ninth by Tamsin Muir

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

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Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

YA Fantasy

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

October

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A Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

YA Historical Fantasy

A diverse fantasy reimagining of Les Misérables and The Jungle Book.

In the dark days following a failed French Revolution, in the violent jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, young cat-burglar Eponine (Nina) Thenardier goes head to head with merciless royalty, and the lords of the city’s criminal underworld to save the life of her adopted sister Cosette (Ettie).

Her vow will take her from the city’s dark underbelly, through a dawning revolution, to the very heart of the glittering court of Louis XVII, where she must make an impossible choice between guild, blood, betrayal and war.

For fans of the gritty criminal underworlds of Six Of Crows, The Gilded Wolves, The Lies Of Locke Lamora, fierce alternate histories like And I Darken

…and anyone who knows that Eponine deserved so much more.

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Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

YA Fantasy

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

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Beyond the Black Door by A. M. Strickland

YA Fantasy

Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom …

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The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

YA Fantasy

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

November

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Fantasy

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world–a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues — a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians — it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

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Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

YA Fantasy

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell

May Bullet Journal Flip Through|| Pokémon Theme

Another month, another bullet journal spread. For May I went with a Pokémon theme. I absolutely loved drawing them all. I decided to leave them as line drawings, because I didn’t want to risk making them look awful.

Next up is my calendar where I track my reading and plan blog posts. This spread features three starter Pokémon from different generations: Bulbasaur, Cyndaquil, and Piplup.

The next page is my mood tracker, featuring badly drawn Dittos, followed by my habit trackers and monthly goals. The Pokémon in the corner is Mimikyuu, who is a lonely ghost who tries to mimic Pikachu. 😢

Next is my TBR and new Releases for May. On the left page is Pumpkaboo, and on the right is Litwick.

My first weekly spread is probably my favourite layout. It has enough room for daily tasks as well as drawings. In this one I drew the evolutions of some original Pokémon: Igglybuff, Jigglypuff and Wigglytuff on the left, and Cleffa, Clefairy, and Clefable on the right.

This next weekly spread wasn’t great for pictures, so I drew a tiny Snorlax in one box and Azurill in another.

My next spread is great for drawing, but not so functional for me. I wanted to go crazy, but I didn’t want to crowd the page. So from left to right, top to bottom are: Horsea, Oddish, Gastly, Mareep, and Psyduck.

I loved my next spread. I drew a different cat-like Pokémon every single day. In order: Litten, Meowth, Glameow, Skitty, Purrloin, Mew, and Espeon.

My next spread wasn’t really planned out with a theme, so I just drew Pokémon I think are cute. From top to bottom, left to right, they are Natural, Togepi, Teddiursa, Bellossom, and Bunneary.

No Pokemon here, but this double page is my monthly book haul, a recommendation list, and my TBR for Asian Readathon.

Next I have my Ramadan Readathon TBR (which I didn’t manage to read a single book for) with a cute Charmander in the corner. The following page is my monthly wrap up with a Swablu in the top corner.

May Wrap Up

General Comments

I had high hopes for May. I planned to participate in both Asian Readathon and Ramadan Readathon. I failed miserably. I read like 5 books. I’m just not really very good at readathons and TBRs. I need to accept it. I’ve decided I’ll just stick to year-long reading challenges.

I’m also announcing a semi-hiatus during June. I’m probably only going to post once or twice a week, depending how I feel. I want to concentrate more on reading and catching up on writing blog posts. In the last couple months I’ve scheduled a few posts, then forgot to actually go back and finish them before they’re published, so I’ve had to take them down. I’d like to get a handful of posts ready to go so I don’t have to stress about it for a while.

What I Read

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee 🇰🇷 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Seven Days by Rihito Takarai 🇯🇵 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Forest of a thousand lanterns.jpg

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal 🇵🇰 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Want by Cindy Pon 🇹🇼 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao 🇻🇳 DNF 66%

Currently Reading

Victoria the Queen by Julia Baird

What I Watched

Lego Masters (Australia)⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Watching people make cool stuff out of Lego, what else do you want to watch three nights a week?

Victoria ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Haven’t finished all three seasons, but I love this. The costumes, the writing. All of it. Victoria was such a fascinating woman.

The Passage ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My mom and I marathoned this in one day. It’s completely addictive, and nothing like I thought it was going to be. Twelve-year-old Saniyya Sidney held the entire show together beautifully.

New Amsterdam ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Oh My God. What an ending!

The Hustle ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Amusing, but average.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Decent, but a bit underwhelming.

Book Haul

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Victoria The Queen by Julia Baird

Elizabeth The Queen.jpgMarie Antoinette.jpg

Elizabeth The Queen by Alison Weir

Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser

Catch Up On My Blog

April Wrap Up

April Bullet Journal Flip Through

Romance in YA Discussion

Books with Phenomenal Worldbuilding

Dark of the Moon || Tracy Barrett

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach|| Kelly Robson

A Thousand Ships|| Natalie Haynes

Conservation of Shadows|| Yoon Ha Lee

Here, The World Entire|| Anwen Kya Hayward

June TBR

Blog Posts I Liked

Why I Think Retellings Should Focus On Themes As Well As Plot by Briana @ Pages Unbound, where she talks about the difference between a book that is inspired by another literary work, and a retelling of that work.

Connecting With A Self I’d Forgotten #RepresentationMeans by Shri @ Sun and Chai where she talks about how meaningful it was to see part of her identity, as a Desi woman and bharatanatyam dancer in particular, reflected in the pages of Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves, and how important representation is.

Muslim Voices Rise Up – Muslim Fantasy Authors In Conversation over on Fadwa’s Word Wonders featuring Karuni Riazi and Nafiza Azad chatting about Muslim representation in fantasy, diversity, the experience of being a Muslim author among other things. The whole series of Muslim Voices Rise Up that have been shared this month have been amazing, so a big thanks to the hosts, Fadwa, Adiba and Aimal!

YA Books With ‘Heavy’ Topics Are Necessary by Fadwa @ Word Wonders, where she talks about the importance of discussing topics such as trauma, abuse, mental illness, and even sex, in YA literature.

YouTube Videos I Liked

Wind Princess – Official Trailer (Nausicaa Tribute)

April Wrap Up | Best and Worst Month of 2019? #Fantasyathon @ Beautifully Bookish Bethany

Upcoming Releases I’m Excited For

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (June 4)

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho (June 25)

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter (June 25)