Title: The Waking Land
Author: Callie Bates
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Book Depository || Amazon || Dymocks || Booktopia
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Waking Land offset the wonders of magic with human imperfections through the journey of the book’s complicated heroine, Elanna Valtai. Raised by a king who branded her father a traitor to the realm, Elanna grew up believing that her people are ignorant and unworthy. The Waking Land has a lot of potential, but falters at times with its portrayal of Elanna’s characterisation, and with maintaining a consistent pacing. For me, the book ended up being a compelling but unmemorable read.
One of the largest underlying conflict in The Waking Land is the oppression of the Caerisians by the new ruling class. I am always cautious when I see fantasy races used as a tool to commentate on racism, as when not done in a respectful manner, it can be quite hurtful to marginalised readers. However, The Waking Land takes care to constantly challenge Elanna’s thoughts and the institutionalised racism around her – the text constantly questions the prejudices that drives royalty and noblewomen of Laon to jeer at Elanna’s skin colour and Caerisian parentage.Read More »
Author: Cora Carmack
Rating: 1/5 Stars
Eagle-eyed blog readers may note that the usual purchase links to online retailers is missing from this post. This was entirely intentional because I think every dollar that goes towards Roar is a dollar wasted. I went in expecting an entertaining fantasy, filled with storm magic and a princess discovering her destiny. While the book partially delivered on these expectations, it also came with a significant amount of toxic masculinity, two domineering and possessive love interests, a romance that perpetuates rape culture, and a woman of colour thrown under the bus to further the heroine’s own storyline.
I’ll get the lone positive out of the way first. The world building in Roar was compelling, set in a world haunted by tempestuous storms where gifted humans employ magic to control them. Since the internet has no shortage of glowing reviews about the magic system in Roar, I’ll leave it at that. I have a lot more to say about the toxic romance in Roar as, it is an example of how dangerous it is for harmful tropes to reign unchecked and unchallenged. This post will contain spoilers for the romantic plot within Roar. This is the book that ruins itself, so I am just helping it along.
Note: The protagonist in this book goes by three different names – Aurora, Rora, and Roar – I will use the name Roar for the sake of clarity.
Trigger warning for romanticised abuse.
My main issue with Roar is the very problematic romanticisation of male sexual aggression and possessiveness. Unlike many YA novels where the narration primarily takes place from the heroine’s point of view, Roar is also written from Cassius and Locke’s perspective – and their thoughts on Roar were disturbing and frightening, especially because the text largely presented them as romantic.Read More »
This week marks the release of Cindy Pon’s latest novel, Want. To celebrate, I’ve compiled a wallpaper post based on the cover of Want, along with a couple from her previous series, Serpentine.
Although the publishing world is getting better every year in terms of representation, it’s still rare to see an Asian face grace the cover of any YA books. I’ve been loving the covers of Cindy’s more recent novels, gorgeously illustrated by Zachary Schoenbaum (for Serpentine) and Jason Chan (for Want).
Cindy’s debut, Silver Phoenix, was also the first YA fantasy novel I read with a Chinese protagonist – I remember cherishing it for telling me a story that was at once fresh and nostalgic. Being able to see yourself is a powerful thing, and it was Cindy’s book that propelled me to begin my first (but very short-lived) book blog. I just celebrated my 2nd year of blogging on Read at Midnight yesterday, and I am glad to share my blog birthday with Cindy’s latest novel!
As always, a couple of house rules:
- The wallpapers are set for iPhone 6S, but should work across a range of smart phones. They’re free for personal use.
- All characters belong to Cindy Pon. Illustrations of the characters are by Zachary Schoenbaum (for Serpentine) and Jason Chan (for Want).
- Please do not edit, repost, redistribute the images, or claim them as your own.
- Find more information on Serpentine, Sacrifice, and Want on Goodreads!
- If you enjoyed my work, please consider buying me a cuppa or two via Ko-fi! All donations will go towards image licensing for my next shareable graphics project, so we will all benefit ❤
- Find more of my free book-related designs here.
- If you enjoyed these free graphics and want to support me, you can find me on Society 6.
- Alternatively, you can commission me for your custom graphics by contacting me.
- Finally, you can grab me a cuppa via Ko-fi here.
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Title: The Grace of Kings
Author: Ken Liu
Series? Yes, 1 of 3
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Book Depository // Amazon // Dymocks // Booktopia
In a genre inundated with tall-tales of reluctant white heroes fulfilling their Destiny, Ken Liu’s voice unabashedly stands apart. He is a constant innovator, whether it’s with his short fiction, full length novel, or translated work. At the same time, he also showcase the roots of his identity via the incorporation of Chinese history and mythology in all his writing. The Grace of Kings embodies Ken Liu’s style completely, fusing his unique voice with an ambitious saga about war, governance, and people who defy destiny.
The Grace of Kings is told via a series of interconnected chapters, each giving the reader an insight to the many characters that populate this vast world. The character featured may only fleet in and out of the narrative, or reappear numerous times to emerge as a central figure to the tale – but each of their story felt crucial to the overarching epic.Ken Liu’s mastery over short fiction is evident by his previous works such as The Paper Menagerie, and I loved seeing these skills applied on a grander scale to create the rich tapestry of The Dandelion Dynasty. Although each chapters felt episodic, there was a constant sense of momentum and urgency throughout the text, making this a constantly engaging read despite its hefty length.Read More »