Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee // Book Review

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee // Book Review

The highly anticipated ending of the Green Bone Saga and it’s a doozy. Filled with character growth, changing times, and a lot of introspection, this book isn’t like the others in the series. However, it will keep you interested especially if you’ve invested your heart and soul into the success of the No Peak clan. Thanks to Orbit Books for the gifted read. My opinions haven’t been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Here’s more about Jade Legacy

Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now known and coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same.

The Kauls have been battered by war and tragedy. They are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference that could destroy the Green Bone way of life altogether. As a new generation arises, the clan’s growing empire is in danger of coming apart.

The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.

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My thoughts

I don’t know how to review this epic story. There’s so much that happens, but I also don’t want to spoil anything because it is a ride of a lifetime and you really need to get into it on your own. The book is a little over 700 pages long, which I thought at first was a bit excessive. But similarly to any epic story that’s coming to its end, the reason for the pages is to wrap everything up into a neat and clean bow; no straggling trails of story because this is it. This is the ending.

The story was such a saga and I was surprised by the way Fonda Lee decided to end the series. Instead of sharing the next part of the story, she shares the next 20+ years of the lives of all the characters. It was interesting to see their lives and the way they shape the No Peak clan throughout the years. I mean, you start off with them just starting to get their foot into the business and then you read how the clan ebbs and flows throughout the years. It’s really like reading a generational story and there are definite leaps into the future. The jumps into the future were kind of surprising and it took me a moment for me to understand what’s happening. I would keep an eye on the headers to remember when you are in the story.

I think the biggest part of this story is that you watch these characters grow. You see the people they become and I guess that’s the whole point of a legacy, you see what they leave behind for the next generation of Green Bones to look after. All the characters had some amazing moments and they all try to live their lives to the fullest. Some are blessed with some great things while others were devastated by their losses. But overall, these characters really come to life throughout the book, making decisions for themselves and for their family and for the clan. I think my favorite growths were Wen, Anden, and even Hilo. I was so surprised by how much Hilo changes throughout the story. He’s completely different from the man he starts off with in the beginning of the series.

Of course, the story wasn’t without its trademark fight scenes and power grabs, but I felt like there were less of these throughout the book and more into the political intrigue and character growth. I understand how the story evolves from being about clan fights and it was so interesting to see the evolution of these clans into the modern age; less about the fights and more about the business. However, that isn’t to say that this isn’t without its fights. There were a few key instances that really bend the story for you. It’s not that the clans stop fighting all together, but much of their fight is in obtaining as much power within Kekon and beyond. The political intrigue was the most palatable I’ve read in a really long time with lots of layers of information and backstabbing and surprises.

The most surprising part was how it ended. I kind of saw it coming, but at the same time you don’t. You think that they’re going to go on living as peacefully in their slow war for the rest of their days until the new generation comes up, but the ending definitely brings you back to the first book of the series.

Overall, the whole book was such a great way to end the series. I’ve never read a series ending that’s so detailed and deep. I took my time reading it, savoring every page because I knew that this was the end.

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson // Book Review

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson // Book Review

If you’re a fan of YA or if you want to get into Brandon Sanderson, I highly recommend this series. Because this just keeps getting better and better. Thanks to the publisher for a gifted copy of the book. My opinions have not been influenced by the author or the publisher.

Here’s more about Cytonic

Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary. She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell—the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she traveled light-years from home as an undercover spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home.

Now, the Superiority—the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life—has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa’s seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant. Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.

Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she’s able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy.

The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return.

To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying.

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My thoughts

If you’re a fan of the Skyward series and you’re wondering if Cytonic is worth the read, I will say yes. Unequivocally, yes. Because this is the book that will get you all the answers you need. Each book in the series explores a different world. Skyward explores the planet Detritus. Starsight explores the planet ship. Cytonic goes deeper and explores the world where people hyperjump through space, where cytonic beings go when they hyperjump themselves, where the Krell get their resources for flying, and the location where the Delvers exist. It’s the Nowhere and Spensa is exploring the whole thing.

I absolutely loved how this story takes place in the Nowhere, exploring the grounds within, the wild way things work in there, and the people who are captured and thrown in there. There’s pirates and even a new sidekick named Chet. I loved Chet and the clues hidden behind who Chet is. Of course, there’s a new group of alien races to also follow along as well, which is so much fun because I loved it in Starsight. And exploring the Nowhere was really interesting. I loved the different adventures Spensa goes on with M-Bot in this world.

And of course, it’s Brandon Sanderson so there’s a lot of details to the world that I really loved. I’m really trying not to spoil this book, but let’s just say that the details Brandon Sanderson put into this book really pay off and make it just a world you want to stay inside for a really long time.

There were also a few themes throughout the story that really drew me in. One of the biggest, I think, were the emotions or how we react to certain things and despite the way we feel, we continue to push ourselves beyond our boundaries (in a healthy way, mind you). It reminds me that sometimes we come across some scary moments in our lives and while we can easily run away, these are also the moments that can push us and our courage. I really loved that theme and how that plays out throughout the book.

It’s incredible how Brandon Sanderson is able to introduce you to these new characters in each book and you immediately latch onto them. While there were a few surprises when it came to characters, I really loved Chet and the story behind him. I had my doubts about him and wondered if he would turn out to be the villain in the end, but as the story moves on and you learn more about all the characters, you realize that it’s about survival, about redemption, and about personal growth.

I think the only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of is Spensa going to this world and kind of forgetting about what’s happening in the somewhere while she’s in the nowhere. It doesn’t go into what’s happening on the other side (only a few times), and the fact that she leaves right in the middle of a war felt strange. I assume we’ll be getting an idea of what happened while she was in the nowhere, but it definitely left me wondering while I read.

Overall, a fantastic read and definitely my favorite in the series so far. I can’t wait for the next book!

5 High Fantasy Books if You Loved the Wheel of Time TV Series

5 High Fantasy Books if You Loved the Wheel of Time TV Series

Happy Wheel of Time day! If you’re like me, then you’ve probably been obsessing about this show a few years ago when they actually made the announcement that it was going to be a show. But the happy day is here and I know we’re all going to rush and see what this is all about.

I’ve been reading lately that the show is “the next Game of Thrones,” which is my least favorite way to describe any high fantasy. In fact, it doesn’t make sense for Wheel of Time because the books written by Robert Jordan predate Game of Thrones. If anything, Game of Thrones is the next Wheel of Time.

The Wheel of Time show combines the first three books within the series, but I would highly recommend checking out the first one, The Eye of the World. It’s an incredible novel and if the show wasn’t based on these books, I would have added it. But if you’d rather read something else, here’s some other great books to read after finishing Wheel of Time!

The Lord of the Rings by J RR Tolkien

This one isn’t surprising especially since The Eye of the World is an homage to Tolkien’s work to create this genre of book. Filled with reluctant heroes, adventures across massive landscapes, the deep story of a world beyond what you read on the page. It’s no wonder Robert Jordan felt the need to page homage.

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

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Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

If you loved Egwene and Nynaeve and the magical powers held by the women in this world, then I highly recommend Samantha Shannon’s epic Priory of the Orange Tree. Filled with females with magical powers, dragons, and a fantasy adventure you won’t forget, it will definitely keep that WOT high after you’ve finished the series.

A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

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The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Robert Jordan sadly wasn’t able to finish his epic series before passing. However, Brandon Sanderson was appointed to finish it for him after he died. The final two books in the Wheel of Time series were written by him, but Brandon Sanderson is also a great author on his own. His series, The Stormlight Archive, is only on its fourth book, but I truly recommend The Way of Kings to keep your Wheel of Time feels going.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

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Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

I think of Wheel of Time as a very character development story. You follow along with these five friends and see how they go from naive young people and turn into the heroes of their time. Of course, there’s some reluctance to that position from each of them and I thought Assassin’s Apprentice was a great story to compliment that theme.

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

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The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Of course, if you’re the chosen one, it comes with a lot of responsibilities. The chosen one trope is huge in the Wheel of Time and it’s also big in The Rage of Dragons. I highly recommend this one, especially since Evan Winter was inspired to write his book from reading Robert Jordan as a kid.

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

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Five SFF Novellas if You’re New to Novellas

Five SFF Novellas if You’re New to Novellas

Recently, I took a poll on my bookstagram account to see if folks were fans of novellas. But interestingly enough, there were many folks who said they haven’t read any at all!

I’m slowly becoming a huge fan of novellas, which are stories that are told in 17,500 and 40,000 words. It’s longer than a short story, but it isn’t a huge novel. The wild part of novellas is how much authors are able to encapsulate in the small amount of space. I’m always so blown away by the story telling that happens in a novella and always surprised by how much an author can write.

They’re also great when you want to read something, but you don’t want to dedicate too much time to it. And if you’re a dedicated SFF reader like myself, then you might pick up a novella between the heavier and more deeply concentrated science fiction and fantasy novels.

Of course, novellas are similar to novels and they can be hit or miss. If you’re one of the folks who haven’t read a novella, but would love to start, here’s a short list of some of my favorite SFF novellas. A little bit of space, a little bit of mythical worlds, and a whole lot of story packed into tiny little goodness, I hope that you find yourself your next great read.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

This is the first novella in the Murderbot Diaries series written by Martha Wells. This is the book you need if you ever wanted to read something a bit more on the sci-fi side. It follows a security bot called Murderbot. Different than other security bots, Murderbot was able to hack into its own system and rewrite itself to have a personality and a taste for bad TV. Its missions change from book to book, but the main theme is finding out who you truly are when you’ve been programmed to protect the crew (and treated like every other robot out there). I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I have or felt deeply for a robot than I did in this series.

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

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Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

This first novella is the beginning of the Wayward Children series. If you’ve always wanted to find that doorway that leads you to Narnia, Oz, or Wonderland, then I highly recommend this series to you. Each book follows a young person that lives at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children and their journey to another world. It’s a boarding school for children who have traveled to different worlds and are having a hard time adjusting. The first book follows a new recruit to the school as she adjusts to life after living in a magical place, meets children like her, and tries to remember what it was like to be just herself. It’s harder than it looks. The story also goes deeply into these children and what they were hoping for from these worlds.

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

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To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

I’m a huge fan of Becky Chambers and only because she has this way of writing and understanding the human soul. The stories dives deep into the waters of humanity and while most of her books take place on distant planets and throughout space, the elements are there and always give me something to hold on to when I’m not feeling myself. I highly recommend reading everything by her, but I doubly recommend this one because it made me cry.

Ariadne is one such explorer. As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, she and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does.

Ariadne may awaken to find that support for space exploration back home has waned, or that her country of birth no longer exists, or that a cult has arisen around their cosmic findings, only to dissolve once more by the next waking. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home.

Carrying all the trademarks of her other beloved works, including brilliant writing, fantastic world-building and exceptional, diverse characters, Becky’s first audiobook outside of the Wayfarers series is sure to capture the imagination of listeners all over the world.

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A Spindle Splintered by Alix E Harrow

If you want to try your hand on a fairy tale retelling without investing in too big of a novel, I would highly recommend A Spindle Splintered. Similar to the many other fairy tale retellings I’ve read, this one puts a spin on the Sleeping Beauty story following a young person’s journey to an alternate reality where she meets the very real Sleeping Beauty! It’s not only a fairy tale retelling, but a sci-fi adventure and I’m just a huge fan of that.

It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.

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The Deep by Rivers Solomon

If you’re looking for a book that mixes mermaids and West African folklore then this is the novella for you. While it’s a short book, it packs a punch and you’ll be wanting to reread it after you’re done.

Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

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Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong // Book Review

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong // Book Review

The sequel to These Violent Delights will dazzle you with its action-packed retelling of both Romeo and Juliet and the Shanghai Massacre of 1927. Filled with mystery, political intrigue, and romance, this one will keep you reading all the way to the end.

Here’s more about Our Violent Ends

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

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My thoughts

I read the first book only last month, so it was pretty fresh in my mind and made the experience for this one even richer. I felt like the first book was good, but it definitely had a few flaws that many readers brought up. However, I saw this sequel as flawless and I would highly recommend checking it out if you read the first one and liked it. I’m probably bias because I loved it so much and overlooking some smaller issues, but it really blew me away.

The biggest components that I adored was using real Chinese history during the early part of the 20th century to help tell this tale. The communist and nationalist parties working in tandem with the gangsters was so intriguing. Incorporating them into creating Chloe’s own retelling of those events really made the story way more interesting! Of course, the gangs working alongside these two parties really brought another dynamic level to the story that really reminded me of Fonda Lee and her Jade City trilogy.

The characters were a huge part of why I loved this book. Roma and Juliette, of course, were so interesting and very different from each other. Roma is more of a lover than a fighter, but has no problems with pulling the trigger when needed. Juliette is always fighting for approval as a female heir to one of the biggest gangs in Shanghai, so she tries to keep a pretty stern air about her. But I love that you see all of that change for both of the characters throughout the second book. They grow and change into the people they’re supposed to be, which I loved reading throughout the process.

I think another surprising set of characters were Marshall and Benedikt. I loved seeing their friendship grow over time and although I don’t want to spoil anything, the book definitely dives further into that for you. And I think my favorite character of all was Alisa. In the first book, there wasn’t much about her. She was more the naive younger sister who was infected by the bugs, but in this book, she grows exponentially.

I did want to touch on Romeo and Juliet and how it plays out in this part of the book. If you’ve read the first book, then you know exactly where the story kind of leads you, but ultimately this second half of the book is no way similar to the play. And honestly, I preferred it. Chloe Gong has created something special here with her story and I don’t think the play was necessary. It was fun to see the nods to the play and see how she’s used the components within her own story, but I wouldn’t go into reading this series thinking you’re going to get a verbatim retelling. It’s way better than that!

Finally, the bugs aka the sci-fi element in the story that drew me to the book in the first place. It felt like it took a backseat in the second book and didn’t play as big of a role as it did in the first book. My anxiety thanks Chloe Gong for that. However, I think she did a good job incorporating into the story and making it a part of the bigger plot. I loved that the bugs formed a riff in power within Shanghai and subsequently led to the people wanting to move away from gang rule, but aside from that I like that she kept the bugs to a minimum (gross).

Overall, I absolutely loved this ending. The story wrapped up beautifully, surprised me all the time, and really captured the tragedy of the massacre days before it happened. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better sequel.

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen // Book Review

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen // Book Review

I’m a huge fan of mermaids, so when I heard that there was a book out there that combines The Little Mermaid with Children of Blood and Bone, I knew I had to check this out. I’m so glad I did because I found myself a new favorite. Thanks to Get Underlined for a gifted copy of the book.

Here’s more about Skin of the Sea

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable–she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But something is amiss. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . .

Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

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My thoughts

The story follows Simidele, a young Mami Wata, or mermaid, who’s only job is to bless the souls passed at sea. However, being a newly minted mermaid, she’s been having a tough time coming to terms with her new life glimpsing at memories of her life as a human for clues to who she used to be. When she accidentally saves a boy, that’s when the story really starts to begin because as a Mami Wata, your only job is to bless the souls. Because she wanted to save a life, Simi sets off on a quest to speak with the Supreme Creator in hopes of remedying the situation.

And let tell you that the adventure is so much fun. From pirates who took over an enslavement slave ship to save other enslaved Africans to meeting mythical creatures to entertaining a riddle-filled trap of an island to save two children, this story just keeps moving from this point on.

I loved Simi and Kola so much. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the romantic elements going on, I loved their dynamic. Simi is this intelligent person with strength that surprised me to read. I loved that she uses her knowledge to help Kola get back his twin siblings. I also love Kola because of how much a leader he is. At first, I thought he was just a teenager who liked to get in trouble, but the moment he gets back to his village, he’s transformed into this man with a plan to get back his siblings and fight against Esu, the orisa who stole them.

The story itself is wrapped in so many layers. You have Simi who’s looking for some remnants of her past. You have Kola who must get back to his village to protect his siblings. But then they go on this adventure meeting mythical creatures, friendly allies, scary creatures, and the gods of this West African tale. And on top of that, you have these orisa making visits, secret deals being made, and so many faces that appear throughout the story. Honestly, you’re in for a ride that doesn’t let go not even at the end!

I mentioned this a second ago, but the only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the romance. It was fine, but a little forced and I much rather would see Simi and Kola be allies as they fought against Esu. However, I also know that this story is loosely based on The Little Mermaid, so there needs to be that romantic element to keep that basis still true. The only other thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the bits and pieces that kind of fell off. I was intrigued by Yemoja, Simi’s creator, and her abilities. I’m hoping that the second book will dive further into these, especially since the ending left you wanting the second book right away!

Overall, this was such a good story that combines so many mythical creatures, legends, gods, and people into a beautiful narrative. The characters are so interesting and you want to find out about them and you’ll fall in love with them (even the side characters!). I truly loved this one and can’t wait for book 2.

How did I not get on Lore Olympus before today?

How did I not get on Lore Olympus before today?

I recently received a gifted copy of Lore Olympus from the publisher. I was excited about this one because I’ve been wanting to get more into graphic novels and why not restart that with something that modernizes Greek mythology. But omg, I didn’t actually realize that this story would be so good. And now I’m asking myself why I didn’t pick this up on Webtoons before today?

Here’s more about Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Experience the propulsive love story of two Greek gods—Hades and Persephone—brought to life with lavish artwork and an irresistible contemporary voice.

Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of mythology’s most well-known stories from creator Rachel Smythe. Featuring a brand-new, exclusive short story, Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated web-comic Lore Olympus brings the Greek Pantheon into the modern age with this sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.

This volume collects episodes 1-25 of the #1 WEBTOON comic, Lore Olympus.

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My thoughts

Ok, I’m going to keep this brief because I was really in love with the first volume of Lore Olympus enough that I went online and read the rest of the series on Webtoons. Yep, if you needed a mythological romance between the most notorious couples of the Underworld, then this is the one for you.

It centers around the love of Hades and Persephone and they’re probably my favorite couple from all of myths. When I heard that this story was based on that, I was so ready for it. However, I didn’t think it would be a modern take on this mythology. I loved the modernization (which is only within Olympus. The real world is still living in the BCE area) and it lends itself so well to the wild lives these gods and goddesses live. I wonder if that says a lot about modern society, but let’s not get into that.

On top of being the story between Hades and Persephone, there’s also additional stories from all the other Greek gods, which makes it more exciting. The issues these gods face are so closely related to the ones we have in real life that you won’t have any problems with relating to the story.

And the romance. OMG, I think this might be the first time I’m reading a romantic graphic novel as most of the ones I read are filled with murder and revenge, so it’s a wonderful departure from those gorey stories and reading about the modern romantic problems set with Greek gods just works. You’ll want to keep reading just to see if Persephone and Hades get together in the end (spoiler alert: they do).

So if you’re a fan of Greek mythology and all the retellings coming out nowadays, I would highly recommend this one. Start with the webtoon, fall in love, and then pick up a copy of the volumes for your bookshelf. I know I’ll definitely get the rest for mine.

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer // Book Review

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer // Book Review

It’s the final book of October! I know this review is coming a little way after the month ended, but it’s been tough for me to write blog posts lately. Just feeling a little creatively drained, but that has nothing to do with this book. I’m just letting you know lol.

If you like space operas, space drama, and the chase to claim the throne of a 1000 planets, then this is the one for you.

Here’s more about Crownchasers

Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship?

But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne.

Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.

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My thoughts

I love a good space opera, but over the past few months I haven’t had much luck with finding a space opera that really kept my attention. I read two books prior that were good, but weren’t the kinds of books I like to read. Honestly, if I kept on reading those books then I would have hated them and the reviews wouldn’t have been truthful to how truly good they are. There’s an audience for those books, it’s just not me.

That being said, I was so thankful to pick up Crownchasers at the last moment. I had a long flight back home and I wanted to read something as fun as the book I read on the way out. This was really good, really fun, and still had a deeper story that kept me going. The ride itself was filled with suspense and the challenges they came across while getting to the royal seal were so good. I love exploring different worlds and facing big challenges and fighting your way to get to the next clue.

The premise itself sold me; a group of royals chosen to find the royal seal and claim the throne of this massive empire. It had that heist vibe, which I really love and the characters were so much fun to follow. Hell Monkey had to have been my favorite because who doesn’t love a brooding silent type that’s the MC’s side kick?

I loved the way this book was laid out. It jumped from past and present, but it explained a lot about the royal families and their relation to Alyssa in the story. She doesn’t want the Empress position, so she helps her close friend who’s also up for the job to win the throne. It was such a good chase story with the villains being villainous and the protagonist thwarting the odds to make it through each round. I honestly I had a lot of fun reading this one.

It also read really young. I normally don’t complain about these kinds of things because I know a YA story is written with an intended audience in mind, but it did bother me how young the writing felt. I just wasn’t a fan.

Overall, definitely a quirky space adventure filled with intrigue and suspense. It really broke me from my space opera funk.

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske // Book Review

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske // Book Review

I love a genre-bending story that expertly mixes historical fiction, classic writing, a mystery, and infuses it in a magic-filled world. It also doesn’t hurt if the romance is steamy AF. Thanks to Tor Books for a gifted copy of the book.

Here’s more about A Marvellous Light

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.

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My thoughts

I was honestly surprised by this one! A friend of mine suggested it to me and I was a little skeptic because I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction. But the Edwardian era lended itself beautifully to this story and while I came away from the book feeling it was more a romance than it was a fantasy, it definitely kept me entertained.

The story follows Edwin and Robin. Edwin comes from a magical family, but he was born with the least amount of power. Robin comes from a non-magical family and through some clerical error in the system, he goes to work for the magical corporation that Edwin works for. They meet at work, which is just too cute and the trope we all want to happen for us.

But things get dicey when Robin meets some thugs on the street looking for a magical item the last person who had his job had possession of. Without any knowledge of the item, they cursed him with a tattoo that causes pain and gives him powers of premonition. In a fury to find this magical item, Robin searches his office and when Edwin finds him there, he decides to help.

Grumpy and sunshine is probably one of my favorite tropes. Perhaps it’s a callback to my love for Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, but I was definitely getting those vibes from Robin and Edwin. When Edwin invites Robin to his family’s estate to look further into this magical item and what’s happening with his curse, that’s when things really start to get going.

I loved getting to know Edwin’s family and the world that he comes from. It reminded me a lot of the Darcy family with its opulence and magic. Edwin’s family is huge and there were a lot of characters I had a tough time keeping track of, but there was so much magic and so many secrets between them that it really engages you and it gets going.

This is definitely a slow burning story, but not a slow burning romance. Edwin and Robin definitely get closer as they stay at Edwin’s family’s estate and try to investigate the goings on with the curse. There’s a few open-door scenes and it will definitely leave you wondering if that magical hand thing works on everyone lol.

I wish there was more backstory for Robin. It seems like he comes from an affluent family, but I felt like there was only a small touch on his life throughout the book. You definitely get to know Edwin way better than you do Robin. I just wish it was the same for him.

The fantasy story also felt like it took a backseat while we watched Edwin and Robin flirt with each other and get steamy, but eventually the story does come back to the fantasy and that definitely peaked my interest. I loved the magic, the world-building, and history behind the magical items they were looking for and what was happening to Robin and his curse. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’re in it for the fantasy parts, you’ll definitely be rewarded.

Overall, I really loved this story and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2. It’s got romance, history, magic, and suspense and I think the little bit of everthing worked in their own ways. I’m hoping for more of the magic to be revealed in the next one and how Robin and Edwin’s relationship moves to the next level.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P Manansala // Book Review

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P Manansala // Book Review

This was such a great read for vacations because it’s engaging enough to keep you interested, but perfect when family or friends draw your attention away. Mind you, I was totally caught off guard when the true killer was revealed.

Here’s more about Arsenic and Adobo

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

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My thoughts

I read most of this book on the plane while I was on vacation and it has to be the best book for that kind of trip. If you need something to engage you while you’re traveling across the country, I highly recommend this book for its funny lines, it’s cozy mystery, and the food. OMG the food! This book has a little bit of everything for everyone, so if you’re into genre-bending books that are a lot of fun, then you’ll really like this book.

It’s about Lila who’s recently come home after a pretty terrible break up. While she’s figuring out the next steps of her life, she decides to help out at her auntie’s restaurant. And the day her high school ex comes into the restaurant to review the place for the local paper, he ends up dying in a plate of food. The rest from there is an attempt to clear Lila’s family’s name, come to terms with who she knew her ex to be, and discovering a little bit more about herself.

This story carried with it a lot of depth. I thought the focus of the book would be on the mystery alone, but I loved getting to know Lila, her hopes and dreams, and see all the delicious food she makes for her friends and family. Of course, she’s got herself a dream to open her own place and I felt like she would do really well in that department. But I loved that this was more than a small town looking to figure out the killer. I loved that it even showed how imperfect the people in town were. It felt really human and that made me continue reading.

I also loved how complex the mystery turned out to be. Like I said, I had no clue it turned out to be the person it turned out to be, but I had my inklings and I felt like I was half right. In many ways, the mystery part was really sad. Despite not knowing who actually did the killings, the results leading up to it made my heart hurt.

There’s also a lot of characters and suspects to consider! Because no one liked the food critic, there were many people who could have easily done it. I thought it was fun to keep track of everyone like a big game of Clue to finally discern the murderer.

Overall, I loved it and maybe it was because I was on vacation and didn’t want anything too complicated. It made me laugh, it made me hungry, and it surprised me.