July Book Haul #1|| New Releases

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Touted as a Mulan retelling, it also draws inspiration from the French tale Donkeyskin, the Chinese tale of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, and the Norwegian tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

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.

And Shall Machines Surrender by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

On the dyson sphere Shenzhen, artificial intelligences rule and humans live in luxury, vying to be chosen as host bodies—called haruspices—for the next generation of AI, and thus be worshiped as gods.

Doctor Orfea Leung has come here to escape her past of mercenary violence. Krissana Khongtip has come here to reinvent herself from haunted spy to holy cyborg. But the utopian peace of Shenzhen is shattered when the haruspices begin committing suicide, and the pair are called upon to solve the mystery—and survive the silent war between machines . . .

David Mogo Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Nigerian God-Punk – a powerful and atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos.

Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

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?

The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James

Wealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker.

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule.

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species–formerly extinct–roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty–and what it truly means to be human.

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter

WELCOME TO THE FOREST OF GOOD AND EVIL.

A DREAM COME TRUE…AND A LIVING NIGHTMARE.

Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real-life fairy-tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control, Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed. As the prophecy unfolds, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?

The battle between good and evil is on.

The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang

Since it’s the fourth book in the series, I’ll just leave this with the link to the Goodreads synopsis if you want to have a look.

Milady.jpg

Milady by Laura L. Sullivan

Retelling of Alexander Dumas’ The Three Musketeers from Milady de Winter’s perspective

She was the greatest nemesis of d’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers–but Milady de Winter was so much more than just a villain in their swashbuckling adventures.

I’ve gone by many names though you know me as Milady de Winter: Villainess, seductress, a secondary player in The Three Musketeers story.

But we all know history was written by men, and they so often get things wrong.

So before you cast judgment, let me tell you of how a girl from the countryside became the most feared woman in all of Europe. A target for antipathy, a name whispered in fear or loathing.

I don’t need you to like me. I just need to be free.

It’s finally time I tell my own story. The truth isn’t tidy or convenient, but it’s certainly more interesting.

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Perception|| Terri Fleming [Pride & Prejudice Retelling Mini Review]

Perception by Terri Fleming

Historical Fiction

400 Pages

Published 2017

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis

Mary Bennet does not dream of marriage. Much to her mother’s horror, Mary is determined not to follow in the footsteps of her elder sisters, Jane (now Mrs Bingley) and Lizzy (now Mrs Darcy). Living at home with her remaining sister, Kitty, and her parents, Mary does not care for fashions or flattery. Her hopes are simple – a roof over her head, music at the piano, a book in her hand and the freedom not to marry the first bachelor her mother can snare for her.

But Mrs Bennet is not accustomed to listening to her daughters. When one of Meryton’s wealthiest residents reveals her son is returning home, Mrs Bennett is determined to hear wedding bells ring for one of her girls. Thrown into society, Mary discovers that promises can be broken, money can conquer love, and duty is not always a path to happiness. But by the time she realises her perceptions might be false, might she have missed her chance at a future she’d never imagined?

Comments

The main protagonist is Mary Bennet, the middle daughter of the family. In the original she is described as plain, and is mostly interested in music and reading. She had no interest in social occasions beyond finding an audience to display her accomplishments, of which she was rather vain.

This book takes place a few years after the end of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. There are many familiar characters, plus a few new ones. It mirrors the original in many ways and plays on familiar riffs of Pride and Prejudice.

Perception keeps to similar themes such as gender roles, marriage, social and class divisions, social climbing, and family. However, at its heart, it is a romance.

Yes, you heard me – a romance revolving around Mary Bennet. It was sweet and very well written. I was a little dismayed at the whole makeover part, but I enjoyed reading about Mary’s internal growth and change as a character. I felt it was perhaps a teeny bit dramatic, and sometimes I found myself wondering how believable it was. But this might not be an issue for others.

My only real issue was the portrayal of the majority of women as frivolous and stupid. It’s been a while since I read the original, but I’m pretty sure this type of talk was present. It still makes me uncomfortable.

The language is more accessible than Austen, but still keeps the historical feel. It’s very readable, and I’d recommend it to fans of Austen, and historical romance.

Descendant of the Crane|| Joan He (Mini Review)

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Young Adult Fantasy

416 pages

Publication: 9 April 2019

#1 in series

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

General Comments

I could wax poetic about this Chinese inspired fantasy for hours. Well, it would be less poetic and more incoherent ramble. This book seriously has it all. At least, a bit of everything I enjoy. It was completely addictive and so easy to read. I literally devoured it in a few hours.

What I loved

  • Complicated family dynamic: Hesina has complex and varying relationships with all the members of her family. The relationship with her mother is strained, bordering on loathing. It doesn’t help that her mother lives in some far off mountain monastery or something and acts like a bit of a b****. Hesina has, on the other hand, completely idealised her now-deceased father, which is obviously never an accurate or realistic representation of reality. She’s got a strained relationship with Sanjing, her biological brother, for something that happened when they were kids. Added to this, she has two adopted siblings. Lillian is absolutely awesome and very supportive, while Caiyan, her adopted brother is very logical and Hesina’s closest adviser.
  • Court politics: When this is done well I really enjoy all the intrigue and deals and sacrifices that come with being part of an imperial court. I wasn’t perhaps terribly surprised by all of it, but it was still a lot of fun to read.
  • Legal trial: In a lot of fantasies the legal system doesn’t get a lot of focus, so I was absolutely fascinated by the trial/inquest part of DotC, and I loved Akira being Hesina’s legal representative. He’s intelligent and it sort of leaves me in awe.
  • Murder mystery: I don’t read a lot of murder mysteries (I watch them though), so this was another element that I loved. Hesina’s quest to find out what happened to her father is a goal I can get behind, and I enjoyed reading how it played out. It went in a direction I was absolutely not expecting AT ALL, and I loved it.
  • Detailed mythology/ back story: This mostly pertains to the founding of the current dynasty, and the laws and advice the founders, know as The Eleven, left behind to run a fair and just society. It added so much more depth to the novel, and was fascinating in and of itself. I’d actually love to read that story if Joan He would consider writing a prequel.
  • Forbidden blood magic: Certain people, called sooths, have the ability to see the future. It’s an inherited blood-related magic, and it was fascinating. It really spoke to inequality and the dehumanisation of vulnerable groups.
  • Themes: There are quite a few themes running through the story. A big one was whether the concept of a just and equitable society is achievable, and what sort of sacrifices a person is willing to make to achieve their goals. What price is too high?
  • Complex characters: The bad guys aren’t wholly bad, the good guys aren’t wholly good. They’re human, and they’re messy, and they’re complicated. Everyone had realistic motivations and their reactions were always consistent with their personalities, which is pretty important to me.

Retelling-A-Thon TBR

Since I’m participating in the 2019 Retelling Reading Challenge, it only made sense to participate in this readathon.

It is co-hosted by Tay and Missy @ Frayed Books, Umairah @ Sereadipity, Jennifer @ Bibliolater, and Harker @ The Hermit Librarian. It runs all month, from August 1-31.

I’ve chosen to join the Fairytale team in week 3 led by Umairah, although I wish I could join them all! Anyway, here’s my TBR!

retelling-a-thon-week-3-prompts

Under the Sea: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Sweet Dreams: Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

Beware the Wolf: The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

Let Down Your Hair: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Guess My Name: Beyond the Briar (short story collection)

If the Shoe Fits: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Icy Heart: Robbergirl by S. T. Gibson

Wicked Fox|| Kat Cho (Mini Review)

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Young Adult Urban Fantasy

429 pages

Publication date: 25 June 2019

#1 in duology

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis 

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.

My Review

This was a difficult book for me to review because there were parts I loved, and parts I felt were a bit underwhelming. As a fan of Korean Dramas, it felt very much like a mishmash of every drama I’ve ever watched. That is both a good and a bad thing.

It had a lot of the tropes, archetypes, and recycled plot elements I’ve seen in dozens of dramas. I don’t necessarily dislike them, I just enjoy seeing them turned on their head because I don’t find them surprising anymore.

I did enjoy the mythology elements- gumiho, goblins, ghosts and shamans (no, shamans aren’t mythological, they still exist in Korea today, I’m just being lazy). They were familiar, but Cho had an interesting twist on them, so I was excited to find out more. The short passages between chapters (written in italics) about gumiho lore (both real and specific to this book) were fascinating.

I didn’t mind the love story. It was a cute reluctant friends- actual friends- lovers romance. I saw some of the twists coming a mile off, but the big reveal did sneak up on me and surprise me. I always appreciate an author that can pull that off.

Despite the occasional dark and somewhat violent scenes, I’d describe Wicked Fox as a light, entertaining read. I recommend it to fans of Asian inspired stories and especially to fans of Korean Dramas.

Retelling Mini Reviews|| The Tea Master & the Detective/ Unmarriageable/The Cold is in Her Bones

Today I’m bringing you three mini reviews of retellings. One could argue that they are all literature retellings, though one is almost 3000 years old. Nevertheless, here are the reviews.

The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Retelling of Sherlock Holmes

The Tea Master and the Detective is a stand-alone short story set in an alternate universe called Xuya. If the setting takes your fancy there are other stories set in the same universe.

Going in I wasn’t aware that this was in any way a retelling, but anyone with a passing knowledge of Sherlock Holmes will be able to recognise the similarities in the characterisation of Shadow’s Child and Long Chau as Watson and Holmes respectively.

Shadow’s Child is a sentient mindship who was discharged from the military after a traumatic injury, while Long Chau is a mysterious intellectual with a drug addiction. The two team up to solve a series of mysterious deaths in deep space. I found both main characters interesting, and the plot was fascinating. Sadly, I feel that everything was very rushed, so I had trouble engaging with the story.

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

Set in Pakistan during the late 90s, Unmarriageable is a fun retelling of Pride and Prejudice. The story sticks pretty closely to the original, so there are no real surprises in terms of plot, and the writing is very easy to read. The themes of pride, prejudice, social/class differences etc are also carried over from Jane Austen’s original.

I liked the portrayal of Pakistani religions and culture, though how accurate Muslim/Hindu relations were is questionable. The descriptions of things like location, food and dress were very well done and helped transport me.

My only complaint is that I thought the names were a bit on the nose. Here are some examples:

Alysba Binat – Elizabeth Bennett

Qitty – Kitty

Lady- Lydia

Jena- Jane

Mari- Mary

Fahad Bingla- Charles Bingley

Valentine Darsee- Fitzwilliam Darcy

Jujeena Darsee- Georgiana Darcy

Jeorgeullah Wickaam- George Wickham

Nisar & Nona Gardenaar- Mr and Mrs Gardiner

Sherry Looclus- Charlotte Lucas

The Cold is in her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

⭐️⭐️💫

Retelling of Medusa myth

The first thing I should make clear is that this is not a retelling. It’s not even a reimagining. It takes some motifs and very general themes and weaves a story of its own.

I admire the message it was trying to convey – encouraging girls to have a voice and show their feelings. But there was absolutely no subtlety. It involved girls basically being told to shut up and not ever show feelings of anger, despite the glaring differences in the treatment between boys and girls. The fear of the girls of this particular village was partially justified because young women often manifested a curse. Nevertheless, girls displaying anger were sent to a prison where they were abused.

The story was a bit convoluted, and I didn’t really enjoy it very much. The writing is very simple and straightforward though, so it was a quick read.

Books with Beautiful Covers

Today I thought I’d share with you some covers I absolutely adore.

There tend to be certain colour schemes and design elements I particularly favour. Where possible I have tried to include the name of the cover artist/ designer/ illustrator and a link to their website/social media.

Black, white and red covers

Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

Cover design by Abby Dening

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Cover by Kerby S. Rosanes

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Cover by Vania Zouravliov

The Girl in Red by Christin Henry

Robbergirl by S. T. Gibson

Blue-pink-purple blend covers

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Cover by Manuel Sumberac

Hand Lettering by Leah Palmer

(think this might be her blog site, but I’m unsure)

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Cover design and illustration by Sarah Creech

Gold lettering

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Cover illustration by Jantine Zandbergen (moth)

Lone woman

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Cover by Larry Rostant

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Cover design by Heather Dougherty

Cover art by Anna Dittmann

Stain by A. G. Howard

Cover by Nathalia Suellen

Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

Trees, flowers, insects and animals

Circe by Madeline Miller

Cover by David Mann

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Cover by Sara Pollard

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

Cover by Lizzie Bromley

Shiny Foil

 

Circe by Madeline Miller

Cover by David Mann

The Binding by Bridget Collins

 

Fairytale Mini Reviews || Blanca & Roja/In the Vanishers’ Palace/Girls Made of Snow & Glass

Today I bring you three mini reviews of fairytale retellings. Enjoy.

Blanca & Roja by Anna Marie McLemore

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Retelling of Snow White & Rose Red, and Swan Lake

Blanca and Roja is the story of the del Cisne sisters, who are cursed. There are always two sisters in every generation of every branch of the family. When they are teens one sister becomes a swan and flies away with the bevy, while the other sister is left behind. All their lives Blanca and Roja are determined to beat the curse and remain together. Their story is also mixed up with that of Page and Yearling, two boys who disappeared into the woods and were changed by its magic.

It’s difficult for me to review this book, which is why it’s taken me months to write this tiny review. Let me start by saying it is a beautiful book. It feels sort of delicate and fragile. I’d call it whimsical, but there are some dark undertones in both the plot and the atmosphere throughout. I can’t say that I was particularly enthralled by the plot, because it just isn’t that kind of book. It’s very very character focused, and the fantasy elements are both present, but very subdued.

What I loved was the relationships. I felt the bond between the sisters in an almost visceral way. The way you can love someone and kind of hate them in the same breath, but in the end family is family, and you would do anything for them. I loved the relationship between Page and Yearling too. Even though they weren’t family, it felt as if they were.

I thought the transgender/genderfluid representation was absolutely superb. It was nuanced and so sensitive. My sister had recently told most of her friends and family about her identity, so reading this was particularly poignant to me at the time. Page was my favourite character in this novel for his (sometimes her) complexity and personality.

Finally, I really appreciated McLemore’s inclusion of menstruation. It seems like a strange thing to say, but a lot of books just ignore the fact that women bleed every month. The fact that Roja experienced dysmenorrhea and suffered horribly really resonated with my own experiences. I’ve never seen that kind of straightforward representation of what it means to be a woman in any other book. Ever.

In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

This futuristic Vietnamese-inspired retelling of Beauty and the Beast sounded absolutely wonderful. I’m not going to say this was a terrible novella. It really wasn’t. The beast was a dragon-shifter who lived in a broken palace created by a race of insane creatures who messed with reality. The ‘beauty’ character was the daughter of a healer who needed the dragon’s help. The premise and the worldbuilding were solid, if a little confusing at times. I struggled to connect much with the characters because I don’t feel there was quite enough time to develop them. As a result there seemed to be jumps in the progression of relationships and the story in general. I think it is worth a read if you like retellings, and mind-bending physics/magic. Unfortunately for me it was more of a tantalising taste of a really interesting world, rather than the whole meal, so to speak.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Retelling of Snow White

I had really high expectations going into this because I have heard such wonderful things about it. It was by no means terrible, in fact, it is a good book. I was just left with a feeling of wanting more.

It’s told from two perspectives – Mina, the stepmother, and Lynet, the princess. Mina feels disconnected from everyone, and yearns to feel love – something her magician father has never given her. Lynet yearns for freedom. She’s tired of the expectations on her to be like her dead mother – she’d much prefer to be like her stepmother, Mina.

I liked that there was an exploration of the meaning of love and family, as well being true to yourself and meeting your own expectations before others. I also liked that there was a blossoming love story between Lynet and another girl, although I feel it could have been explored a bit more.

It does read very much like a fairytale, and you can take that as a positive or a negative. It’s a very easy straightforward read, and there is absolutely no question about the themes and underlying message. That being said, I felt that for this very reason, it lacked the kind of nuance I was hoping for, especially in terms of character development.

June Wrap Up

General Comments

June was a decent month reading-wise. Personally, it was not so great. My grandma was in hospital for a week, and she has to go back to have surgery on her neck. Then I got very very sick. As a result, I haven’t written as many reviews as I had hoped to in my weeks off. Here’s hoping July is better.

What I read

Victoria the Queen by Julia Baird ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was a great general biography of Queen Victoria from birth to death. I think as a primer it is an excellent starting point. It was well researched and very easy to read.

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

There was so much to love about this book! It had a bit of everything: Djinn, racial and religious diversity, an enthralling plot, complex interesting characters, as well as a slow burn romance. I highly recommend.

Teeth in the Mist.jpg

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich DNF 51%

In this retelling of Faust, we follow three female MCs living in different centuries who all have a connection to Mill House. The atmosphere was creepy, and initially I was really interested in the unfolding mystery. By time I got half way not much had happened and I was getting bored.

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m not sure how to describe this book, but I’ll try. It’s about twins who are children of the Protector, the ruler of the land. But it’s also about power, both political and magical, which is concentrated in the upper classes. There’s magic and rebellion. There’s also LGBT+ representation: children are genderless, and eventually make the choice to become male or female.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This Chinese inspired fantasy was a completely addictive read. I finished it in two sessions, which is almost unheard of for me. It had a bit of everything: a murder mystery, forbidden magic, court politics, the looming threat of war, complicated family dynamics, a legal trial…

Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett DNF 32%

This was a YA novella based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It was more of a sequel than a retelling, set in Milan after Miranda and her father, Prospero, have returned triumphant from exile. It promises a mystery and a f/f relationship. I found the dialogue was stilted and there was little suspense despite the supposed mystery.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

As a fan of Korean dramas, I was super excited for this. I won’t say that I was disappointed, but it was very predictable to someone who has watched a lot of dramas and knows a lot about Korean mythology. It was an entertaining read, and I’d still recommend it.

Currently Reading

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Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

This is the third Discworld novel, and the first featuring the Witches. The basic story involves a wizard passing his powers to an eight son of an eight son… only it’s not a son, it’s actually a daughter.

Albert.jpg

Albert: A Life by Jules Stewart

Continuing my reading about the Victorian era, I’m halfway through a biography about Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. He was a fascinating man, and very talented.

What I watched

 

Good Omens ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The scenes between Michael Sheen and David Tennant really made this tv adaptation truly marvellous.

victoria.jpg

Victoria (season 3) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I love this series so much, and I can’t wait for season 4. I find Victoria and Albert absolutely fascinating, both individually and as a couple.

Avengers Endgame.jpg

Avengers: Endgame ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I admit, I bawled my eyes out watching this. But afterwards I felt sort of disappointed. I don’t think this movie was as clever and well crafted as Infinity War, and there are a lot of plot holes. It feels like the writers completely undid all the amazing set up they previously did, and Thanos went from being a complex bad guy, to a cardboard cut out villain.

Kinky Boots ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Catch up on my blog

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

May Bullet Journal Flip Through|| Pokemon Theme

YARC mid-year Check In

Retellings Reading Challenge Check In

SFF by Asian Authors|| Recommendations

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Why I Write DNF Reviews|| Discussion

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

Blog Posts I Liked

To be clear, I liked a lot more posts than this. I just don’t feel well and I’m rushing to finish this wrap up.

Check Your Ability: On Ownvoices Disability Representation by Shri @ Sun and Chai, featuring Sabina Post and Lillie Lainoff

This is probably my favourite post of the year. It’s a discussion covering a lot of related topics around disability representation in fiction and being a disabled author. I’m not doing it justice, but it is fantastic, and you should read it.

Welcome to CW’s Hungry Hearts Food Crawl – Where I Tried Food and Cuisine From This Delicious Anthology by CW @ The Quiet Pond

This was such a unique and fun post to read. CW tried food mentioned in the anthology, and shares the experience with the reader. I’ve never come across anything quite like it, but I devoured every word (ha ha, I’m so funny.)

June Haul

I went a little crazy this month and purchased 14 books… I regret nothing. Some were on special, so that’s how I’m justifying it to myself. Anyway, on to the haul!

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Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

“I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin”

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

Albert: A Life by Jules Stewart

Albert, prince consort to Queen Victoria and social and cultural visionary in his own right, defined the culture and direction of nineteenth century Britain—a superpower at the zenith of its influence—more than any other British royal or politician. The role he played in shaping Victorian culture stands today as indisputable proof of the enduring legacy of a man who spent just two decades of his short life in England.

Though overshadowed in history by his adoring wife and at times even mocked by her subjects, it was arguably Albert who gave form and substance to the Victorian Age. From the outset, he strove to win “the respect, the love and the confidence of the Queen and of the nation,” pursuing an extraordinary social and cultural crusade that has become his greatest legacy. From the Great Exhibition and the construction of many of London’s great museums to his social campaigns against slavery and the Corn Laws, Albert’s achievements were truly remarkable—in fact, very few have made such a permanent mark on British society.

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

Before the birth of time, a monk uncovers the Devil’s Tongue and dares to speak it. The repercussions will be felt for generations…

Sixteen-year-old photography enthusiast Zoey has been fascinated by the haunted, burnt-out ruins of Medwyn Mill House for as long as she can remember–so she and her best friend, Poulton, run away from home to explore them. But are they really alone in the house? And who will know if something goes wrong?

In 1851, seventeen-year-old Roan arrives at the Mill House as a ward–one of three, all with something to hide from their new guardian. When Roan learns that she is connected to an ancient secret, she must escape the house before she is trapped forever.

1583. Hermione, a new young bride, accompanies her husband to the wilds of North Wales where he plans to build the largest water mill and mansion in the area. But rumors of unholy rituals lead to a tragic occurrence and she will need all her strength to defeat it.

Three women, centuries apart, drawn together by one Unholy Pact. A pact made by a man who, more than a thousand years later, may still be watching…

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The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic “Little Red Riding Hood”…about a woman who isn’t as defenseless as she seems.

It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods….

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Lancaster and York: The War of the Roses by Alison Weir

The war between the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England was characterised by treachery, deceit and – at St Albans, Blore Hill and Towton, – some of the bloodiest and most dramatic battles on England’s soil. Between 1455 and 1487 the royal coffers were bankrupted and the conflict resulted in the downfall of the houses of Lancaster and York and the emergence of the illustrious Tudor dynasty.

Alison Weir’s lucid and gripping account focuses on the human side of history, on the people and personalities involved in the conflict. At the centre of the book stands Henry VI, the pious king whose mental instability led to political chaos, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and Henry’s rival, and most important of all, Margaret of Anjou, Henry’s wife who took up her arms in her husband’s cause and battled for many years in a violent man’s world.

Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett

“A haunting story that reimagines the consequences of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.”

After the tempest, after the reunion, after her father drowned his books, Miranda was meant to enter a brave new world. Naples awaited her, and Ferdinand, and a throne. Instead she finds herself in Milan, in her father’s castle, surrounded by hostile servants who treat her like a ghost. Whispers cling to her like spiderwebs, whispers that carry her dead mother’s name. And though he promised to give away his power, Milan is once again contorting around Prospero’s dark arts. With only Dorothea, her sole companion and confidant to aid her, Miranda must cut through the mystery and find the truth about her father, her mother, and herself.

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Robbergirl by S. T. Gibson

SAVE THE WITCH, KILL THE SNOW QUEEN

In a Sweden wracked by war and haunted by folk stories so dark they can only be spoken of in whispers, Helvig has been raised by her brigand father to steal whatever treasure catches her eye. When her men ambush a girl on the road with hair pale as death and a raven perched on her shoulder, Helvig cannot resist bringing home a truly unique prize: a genuine witch.

Drawn irresistibly into the other woman’s web, Helvig soon learns of Gerda’s reason for walking the icy border roads alone: to find the Queen who lives at the top of the world and kill her. Anyone else would be smart enough not to believe a children’s story, but Helvig is plagued by enchantments of her own, and she struggles to guard the sins of her past while growing closer to Gerda.

As Christmastide gives way to the thin-veiled days when ghosts are at their most vengeful, the two women find themselves on a journey through forest and Samiland to a final confrontation that will either redeem them or destroy them entirely.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

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.

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The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

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Faust Eric by Terry Pratchett

Discworld’s only demonology hacker, Eric, is about to make life very difficult for the rest of Ankh-Morpork’s denizens. This would-be Faust is very bad…at his work, that is. All he wants is to fulfill three little wishes:to live forever, to be master of the universe, and to have a stylin’ hot babe.

But Eric isn’t even good at getting his own way. Instead of a powerful demon, he conjures, well, Rincewind, a wizard whose incompetence is matched only by Eric’s. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, that lovable travel accessory the Luggage has arrived, too. Accompanied by his best friends, there’s only one thing Eric wishes now — that he’d never been born!

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Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Be careful what you wish for…

Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother named Desiderata who had a good heart, a wise head, and poor planning skills—which unfortunately left the Princess Emberella in the care of her other (not quite so good and wise) godmother when DEATH came for Desiderata. So now it’s up to Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg to hop on broomsticks and make for far-distant Genua to ensure the servant girl doesn’t marry the Prince.

But the road to Genua is bumpy, and along the way the trio of witches encounters the occasional vampire, werewolf, and falling house (well this is a fairy tale, after all). The trouble really begins once these reluctant foster-godmothers arrive in Genua and must outwit their power-hungry counterpart who’ll stop at nothing to achieve a proper “happy ending”—even if it means destroying a kingdom.

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Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

It’s a hot Midsummer Night. The crop circles are turning up everywhere-even on the mustard-and-cress of Pewseyy Ogg, aged four. And Magrat Garlick, witch, is going to be married in the morning…Everything ought to be going like a dream. But the Lancre All-Comers Morris Team have got drunk on a fairy mound and the elves have come back, bringing all those things traditionally associated with the magical, glittering realm of Faerie: cruelty, kidnapping, malice and evil, evil murder.* Granny Weatherwax and her tiny argumentative coven have really got their work cut out this time…With full supporting cast of dwarfs, wizards, trolls, Morris Dancers and one orang-utan. And lots. of hey-nonny-nonny and blood all over the place.

*But with tons of style.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.

The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately for his colleagues in the chauvinistic (not to say misogynistic) world of magic, he failed to check that the baby in question was a son. Everybody knows that there’s no such thing as a female wizard. But now it’s gone and happened, there’s nothing much anyone can do about it. Let the battle of the sexes begin…