Once upon a time, there was a girl who wished for unfettered freedom, a life completely her own, untethered to time and space and people. While many books may explore the journey to achieve such a wish, THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE instead examines the consequences and the prices paid. Addie’s memorable journey is a clear defiance to her curse to a fault. In its single-minded pursuit to capture the life of Addie Larue, this book neglected to acknowledge the existence of marginalised communities who were erased not through Faustian bargains, but by colonialism, classism, and white supremacy. Addie’s story is fixated on her own legacy, yet her narrative is one that conveniently forgets the people history would rather leave unremembered.Continue reading “Audiobook Review: The Invisible Life of Addie Larue”
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Australia in exchange for an honest review. I also purchased a copy of the audiobook for my own personal use.
I have consistently loved Naomi Novik’s novels since reading Temeraire during high school. Uprooted remain one of my favourite stand-alone fantasy to this day, and Novik has proven time and again that she is a master at crafting a palpable atmosphere with every book. So when I heard that Novik was releasing a new series that mixed academia and dark magic, A Deadly Education easily became one of my most anticipated releases of 2020. It’s been a few days since I finished the book, and while my feelings on it are decidedly mixed, I still catch myself thinking about this world. The Scholomance is a haunting setting that leaves its spectre on both the magical world within the novel, and on my subconscious. If you’re looking for an otherworldly and evocative read for the spooky season, you should have this book on your radar. Although I think there are a few issues with the pacing and the worldbuilding which I will explore below.Continue reading “Book Review: A Deadly Education”
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Note: This review will contain spoilers for the prequel, The Gilded Wolves. It will not contain spoilers for The Silvered Serpents.Continue reading “Book Review: The Silvered Serpents”
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I also purchased my own copy of the audiobook for the purpose of this review.
There is a lot going on with The Bone Shard Daughter: part fantasy, part political thriller, part mystery, part sea-adventure, part sapphic romance. If all of that sounds good to you, you’ll be even more please to know that the book emerges more than just a sum of these parts, delivering a page-turning debut that is brimming with potential. I just finished the novel a few hours ago, and I already long to dive back into the world of the Endless Sea, its twisty magic systems, and its numerous characters.Continue reading “Audiobook Review: The Bone Shard Daughter”
Title: Empire of Gold
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Series? Yes, 3 of 3
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
NOTE: This review will contain spoilers for the first two books, City of Brass and Kingdom of Copper. There will be no spoilers for Empire of Gold.
Empire of Gold is the pitch perfect conclusion to the expansive fantasy trilogy that has captured my heart and mind over the past few years. Reading the ending of this book got me doing something I have not done in an age: staying up past 2AM alternating between crying my eyes out and smiling with glee. It was tough saying goodbye to the characters I’ve come to know and love, but I can think of no better farewell than this satisfying finale.
The ending of Kingdom of Copper was ingeniously cruel, leaving the fandom reeling and begging for answers for over a year. The conclusion of this trilogy starts off where it all begins, in an unnamed Egyptian village by the Nile. This setting invited an examination of Nahri’s personal evolution since book one, the ways in which her newfound powers and her found-family have both changed her and helped strengthened her existing identity. Nahri has played several roles in her life: Cairo street thief, companion of Darayavahoush, revered Nahid, wife of an emir, a healer, a survivor. Some of these identities were choices, others were a necessity for survival. With each, Nahri has reclaimed a position in a world that often sought to exclude her. In Empire of Gold, that personal journey delves ever deeper as Nahri navigated all of her past alliances to find a place where she belongs.
I have been blessed with an ARC of THE BURNING GOD, thank you to Rebecca and publishing royalty Natasha Bardon! But before I dived in I wanted to relive the pains and tribulation of The Dragon Republic. I have read The Poppy War at least 5 times so it’s imprinted into my memory, but The Dragon Republic came out at a busy time in my life and I’ve only read it once.
I know I haven’t been able to complete my The Poppy War reread with you all, but while I read The Dragon Republic I wanted to get my thoughts down.
This post will cover up to chapter 7, including the Prologue, it will contain spoilers for all of The Dragon Republic and The Poppy War so please read those two books first before joining me!
CONTENT WARNINGS: The following chapters contain death of a child, death of a sibling, PTSD, addiction, self-harm, racism, allusion to genocide.Continue reading “The Dragon Republic Reread – Part 1”
Disclaimer: I received an eARC and physical review copy of Jade war from the publisher via Caffeine Blog Tour.
Bear with me, I have a full review as well as three graphics wallpaper to share with you today. After all, words are not enough for me to describe how much I love the Green Bone Saga and the Kauls.
Note: The review will have spoilers for the first book, Jade City. It will not contain spoilers of Jade War.
Jade City is one of my favourite books of all time, it encapsulated and elevated everything I loved about fantasy, Hong Kong gangster films, and family drama. I knew I would love Jade War, but I could not anticipate how this sequel would take everything I loved about Jade City and amplified it tenfold. If I was a No Peak loyalist by the end of the first novel, this second one made me a Lantern Man for life. The clan is my blood and the Pillar, the one and only Fonda Lee, is its master. I am here to love and support whatever she releases next, even if it’s sure to destroy me. Continue reading “Blog Tour: Jade War Review and Graphics”
Title: Empire of Sand
Author: Tasha Suri
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review.
Quick aside, I know it’s been almost two months since I updated this blog, but I had some important work assignments and minor life crises occur within the last several weeks. It really took away from my enjoyment from things like reading, blogging, and interacting with you guys on social media.
That chapter of my life is behind us now though, and I feel excited to resume talking about all that good stuff like fictional worlds and new favourite characters. Catch me up on what’s been happening with your life, reading-related or otherwise.
Onto the book of the day, Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. I listened to this on audiobook about a month ago and it was exactly the kind of comforting fantasy I needed: richly imagined world, a heroine with plenty of fortitude and courage, a slow-burn romance, and fraught with complicated ties between family members. The themes were reminiscent of titles I’ve loved before, such as The Poppy War and The Star-Touched Queen, while being wholly its own. The narrator of the audiobook was also particularly excellent, so I would recommend exploring the audio edition of you have the option.
Personally, I felt most hooked by the opening chapters of this story, as we explored Irinah through Mehr’s eyes and come face-to-face with the prejudices faced by the Amrithi people. There were signs of magic and mysticism from the beginning, seen through the various daiva and Mehr’s own Amrithi bloodline. However, the Ambhan rule has left people fearful to speak of the power that connects the gods to the Amrithi – consequently leaving Mehr uncertain about her potential and her lineage. Another thing I found interesting within the first few chapters was her tense relationship with her family, particularly with her stepmother, Maryam.
Mehr leaves the walls Jah Irinah within the first quarter of the novel, whisked away by a group of the empire’s most influential mystics. She is betrothed to Amun, who readers quickly learn is also an Amrithi. I love the interactions between these two characters, from their slow burn romance to how they serve as perfect foils for one another. I also loved seeing Mehr’s resilience through these chapters – even in situations where little choices are offered to her, she fights and find a way to make every decision her own. She’s a heroine that empowers herself each step of the way, and while I don’t always agree with her actions, I constantly found myself rooting for her.
Many of the book’s characters are deeply spiritual and intensely connected to cultural practices of their ancestors, from which they derive strength both mental and literal. I loved seeing how the book explored the interplay between the capacity of the Amrithi people for power, along with how they were exploited for possessing that self-same blessing. The book showed us the different ways which the Amrithi people have learned to cope, from Mehr’s resolute resistance to Amun’s stoic resignation – offering no clear answers or judgement. A lot of this novel is deeply introspective, and while it affected the pacing of the book, I felt it added a lot of depth to these characters.
While the book works perfectly as a standalone read, there is a companion novel coming out which will follow Arwa, Mehr’s younger sister. I can’t wait to see how Tasha Suri will further expand this world and its characters.
Title: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Rating: 5/5 stars
Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review.
Naomi Novik is one of my favourite writers, and Spinning Silver is my favourite book she’s written to date. While Spinning Silver is a standalone novel, it complements Uprooted beautifully as a sister-novel. Both draw inspirations from folklore and fairy tales, with Spinning Silver being an empowering and poignant examination of Rumplestiltskin. The author mentioned that while Uprooted was a homage to her mother’s experiences, while Spinning Silver is an exploration of her father’s story and heritage as a Lithuanian Jew. Richly imagined, filled with strong female characters, and expertly told, this is a book I can see myself rereading time and again in years to come.
Spinning Silver was a technical marvel, beginning from Miryem’s narration and effortlessly adding in other viewpoints throughout the novel. Each of these points of views added another layer to the world building and increased the emotional complexity and stake. They were also beautifully distinctive, from Miryem’s practical and resolute voice, to Wanda’s honest and determined narration, to the brooding and skittish tsar. Although the ARC I read did not provide any chapter heading indicating when the point of view has been changed, I was never confused due to the power of the writing.
The character development over the course of this short novel was phenomenal, as was the way the relationships between various characters were built. My favourites were the main leading ladies, each unique and possessing different kinds of strength. Miryem with her talent for bargaining and sense of fairness. Wanda and the way she savours life and constantly persist, even when things are not going her way. Irina and her cunning mind, coupled with her complete refusal to indulge in the nonsense of brooding tsars and greedy demons. Their strength and their collaboration throughout the novel was a refreshing change from fairy tales of old, where the heroine is often bereft of help unless it’s provided by fairies or dashing princes.
Like Uprooted, Spinning Silver was richly imagined and atmospheric. I read this book just as we headed into winter in Melbourne, and it felt so perfect. The Staryk with their foreboding presence created a dark and palpable tension. Novik’s description of dark and chilly winter nights were so vivid it made me shiver. In spite of the dark atmosphere, the book also contained a lot of humour and hope – I found the tsar and Irina’s chapters especially hilarious. Reading this book was like experiencing your favourite storybook for the first time, with all of the misogynistic and racist undertones cut out.
Speaking of racism, I thought Spinning Silver did an excellent job in critiquing the anti-Semitic subtext in Rumplestiltskin through Miryem’s chapters. This is also the first time I read a fantasy where the heroine goes through length to honour Sabbath, even when she’s imprisoned by a legendary monster. I will link some #ownvoices reviews of the book from Jewish readers when I find them, if you’ve written one, please let me know!
Overall, Spinning Silver was a brilliant and immersive fairy tale reimaging! One you should not miss, especially if you, like me, have always found the tale of Rumplestiltskin wanting.
Uprooted and Spinning Silver are the perfect modern fairy tales: bewitching, evocative, with a strong streak of feminism. I am sharing my love for Naomi Novik today by bringing you two phone wallpapers featuring Agnieszka and Miryem
- Characters and quotes belong to the brilliant Naomi Novik.
- The phone wallpapers are free for your personal use only.
- Please do not edit, repost, redistribute the images.
- They are made for iPhone 6, but should fit most smartphones.
I was a glaring blot on perfection. But I didn’t care. I didn’t feel I owed him beauty.
Because that’s what the story is really about, getting out of paying your debts.