Cover Reveal, Interview, and Giveaway: Brooding YA Hero

BroodingYAHero

I’m sure anyone with a passing knowledge of the online YA community would be familiar with the brilliant and hilarious @broodingYAhero! Broody is my favourite parody account on twitter, walking that perfect line between sass and social commentary. Seeing a tweet by Broody on my timeline never fails to cheer up my day.

As you may know, Broody is getting his own novel – Brooding YA Hero: Becoming A Main Character (Almost) As Awesome As Me. I have the gorgeous new cover for you all to see later on in the post. We have the marvellous Carrie DiRisio, mastermind behind the twitter account and the book, with us here today. Joining her is the extremely talented book illustrator, Linnea Gear! Thank you both for this opportunity!

You’ll find many things within this post, so stay tuned until the very end for the following:

  • Interview with Carrie and Linnea
  • New Cover Reveal
  • International Giveaway for a Preorder of Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) As Awesome As Me.

Continue reading “Cover Reveal, Interview, and Giveaway: Brooding YA Hero”

Best of 2017 So Far

2017 has been a decent reading year so far, but I felt that while I read a lot of good books – I haven’t read as many exceptional books this year. All of the books that ended up on this list are very special and memorable to me.

Best of 2017 First Half

The list also came a bit later than usual because my reading life skyrocketed with a couple of excellent reads in June – so I had to wait until I finished them to complete the post. It’s still missing a couple of books I started in June, but completed in July – but you’ll find out all about them at the end of this year 😉

2017 Top 01

Hurricane Heels by Isabel Yap: I read this novella at the turning of the new year, and it touched me on such a personal level. Magical Girls is one of the tropes I grew up consuming and loving, and in Hurricane Heels it gets such a visceral and modern treatment. The book is filled with complicated friendships between girls trying to juggle their momentous destiny with daily life. Continue reading “Best of 2017 So Far”

Audiobook Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

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Rating Five Star

Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Narrator: Christian Coulson

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Series? Yes, companion novel on the way!

Goodreads

Book Depository ||  Amazon  ||  Booktopia  ||  Dymocks  || Audible


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (hereby referred to as GGTVV) is a swashbuckling adventure exploring love and loss. The book exuberates an energy that will leave its readers breathless and delighted, as well as itching for a road-trip through 17th Europe of their own. While GGTVV is filled with hilarious escapades and heart-warming romance, it never shies away from critically examining the bigotry inherent within the book’s setting. The internet is hyping this one up to be one of 2017’s Required Readings, and I am in 100% agreement.

Gentlemans Guide

From page one, I was completely arrested with the voices of the characters within GGTVV, especially its protagonist – Monty. Monty is a complete rascal, but one that I could not help but love. He’s privileged and self-centred, with Felicity and Percy acting as his voices of reason and challenging him at every turn. What makes Monty endearing rather than infuriating is his capacity for growth and compassion, despites his numerous character flaws. It also helps that he has razor-sharp wit and one of the most entertaining narrative voices I’ve had the pleasure of reading. This is one of those rare books that literally makes me laugh-out-loud, even if it ends up putting my heart through the wringer with the very next scene. Continue reading “Audiobook Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue”

Book Review: The Waking Land

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Rating Three Star

Title: The Waking Land

Author: Callie Bates

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Series? Yes

Goodreads

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.
The Waking Land

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. Continue reading “Book Review: The Waking Land”

Book Review: Roar

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1Star

Title: Roar

Author: Cora Carmack

Rating: 1/5 Stars

Series? Yes

Goodreads


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.

Roar

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. Continue reading “Book Review: Roar”

Midnight Designs: Cindy Pon Appreciation Post

Cindy Pon Appreciation Post Teaser

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 ❤

Serpentine TEaser 2DROPBOX LINK

 

Serpentine TeaserDROPBOX LINK

 

Want TeaserDROPBOX LINK


  • 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.

FIND ME ON: Twitter // Instagram

Top Ten Anticipated Books For The Rest of 2017

TTT June-Dec 2017

Note: Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

When I’m not reading, or even when I am meant to be reading, you can invariably find me snooping on Goodreads or sighing wistfully at online book retailers, searching out for my next preorder. Narrowing my wishlist for the rest of 2017 down to just 10 (ahem, plus two) was entirely too challenging – but perhaps it will be good training for an exercise in self-restraint when the books do come out (haha, who am I kidding).

TTT June Dec 2017 A

Want by Cindy Pon:  Cindy Pon wrote Silver Phoenix and Serpentine, two Asian fantasy abundant with intriguing folklore and mouth-watering food description. It’s a no-brainer that I’ll be all over Want, her first foray into science fiction. The beautiful cover by illustrated by Jason Chan also demands to be displayed face out on my bookshelf.

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera: One female Qorin warrior, one divine empress, a shared prophecy, a star-crossed love that will conquer demons, a blurb promising ‘even gods can be slain…’ – I am shook, OK, I needed this book in my life the moment I found out about its existence. It’s also blurbed by Victoria Schwab, Roshani Chokshi, and Seanan McGuire, my hype meter is through the roof.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: Everything I Never Told You was an exquisite heartbreak. I was utterly captivated by Celeste Ng’s writing style, especially the way she conveys emotional weight in the most mundane of actions. I absolutely cannot wait to see what she brings to the table with this new release. Continue reading “Top Ten Anticipated Books For The Rest of 2017”

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

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Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Series? No

Goodreads

Book Depository  ||  Amazon  ||  Booktopia  ||  Dymocks


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Date A Book/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

NOTE: I read this book as part of #AsianLitBingo, you can find my full TBR here.

When Dimple Met Rishi is like a sip of iced-coffee on a stifling summer day: refreshing, energising, and never fails to put a smile on my face. This endearing romantic comedy explores the whole spectrum of the young adulthood experience with sincerity and humour. Within these pages you will find an honest examination of culture and identity, as well as a thoughtful study on dreams and ambitions.

When Dimple Met Rishi Continue reading “Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi”

Book Review: Flame in the Mist

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Title: Flame in the Mist

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Series? Yes.

Goodreads

Book Depository  ||  Dymocks  ||  Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Hachette Australia/Date A Book in exchange for an honest review.

I read this book as part of the #AsianLitBingo challenge, you can check out my TBR for it here.

While Flame in the Mist was an enjoyable read overall, I felt somewhat let-down because of its immense potential to be remarkable. The premise promised greatness: a fantasy set in an alternate feudal Japan, featuring a cross-dressing noble lady skilled at invention and her time amongst lordless samurai warriors. I expected Flame in the Mist to sweep me off my feet. However, issues with inconsistent character development and pacing meant the book missed the mark for me.

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Flame in the Mist follows Mariko Hattori, daughter of a prominent daimyou, as she attempts to exact her revenge on The Black Clan. She believes this notorious mountain-based samurai gang is responsible for the death of her servants and foot soldiers, as part of an effort to assassinate her. Mariko infiltrates The Black Clan by disguising as a young male traveler. Before she knows it, Mariko is embroiled in a net of intrigue involving a lost shogun and a struggle for nationwide dominance.

First of all, I just wanted to say that Flame in the Mist is not retelling of Mulan – because it’s something I keep hearing on Twitter. Both stories have a cross-dressing heroine, and that’s where the similarities end. Japan and China are separate countries, and Mulan is not a folklore they share.

One of the things I was glad to see in Flame in the Mist is how different Mariko is from Renee Ahdieh’s previous protagonist, Shazi. Mariko is more of an observer and a thinker, someone who weighs up all of her options before acting. Due to this, at times her narration can seem repetitive and sedate. Despite the her tendency to lapse into long internal monologues, I appreciated that Mariko was the main driver of her story. It’s her actions that continually propelled the plot forwards, in spite of the machinations around her.

I must admit that I found many of the secondary characters to be lacking in dimension. Aside from Okami and Ranmaru, who had development thanks to their many interactions with Mariko – the rest of the cast suffered. I never felt that Mariko formed am authentic or lasting bond with The Black Clan. Similarly, the side story featuring Mariko’s twin brother, Kenshin, and his love interest fell a little flat. The book did try to address the sexism inherent within Mariko’s society, and I commend it for featuring several key female characters. Towards the end, there are hints that more of these characters will take centre-stage in the sequel – so I look forward to seeing the gender roles explored further.

My main issue with Flame in the Mist came from most of the book’s characterisation being told rather than shown. The book kept telling me about the brilliance of Mariko’s mind, how mysterious Okami is, how Ranmaru’s presence exudes power and command – but I was never convinced as they did little to back these claims up. The primary romance in the novel also suffered due to similar lack of development. One moment, our protagonists were eyeing one another with disinterest and hostility, the next they were utterly consumed by lust. I did like the interactions between them once the romance begun, but I am still perplexed on how it happened.

As for the world building, I admit I was a little disappointed by Flame in the Mist’s vision of Japan. Having read The Wrath and the Dawn, I know the author is capable of ensnaring all of our senses when it comes to setting. The Japan in Flame in the Mist seems a bit like a theme park. Samurai? Check. Emperors? Check. Maiko and geisha? Check. Teahouses? Check. Ninja? Check (you can’t tell me that Mariko’s inventions aren’t directly copied off ninja devices!) Youkai? Check. Lengthy description of kimono? Check. I also found the use of the Japanese vocabulary inconsistent and confusing, as it seems the author could not decide whether she wanted to use the English or the Japanese equivalent of certain words, and constantly fluctuated between them. Mercifully, this was limited to the first few chapters of the novel.

Overall, I am still invested enough in the story to check out the sequel. I would recommend it if you’re looking for a non-Western YA fantasy – especially as it seems I am amongst the minority when it comes to this book.


Have you read Flame in the Mist? What are some of your favourite books set in Japan?

10 Reasons I’ve Avoided Certain Books

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, and it’s been a longer while since I did a TTT post – so today is a happy celebration of my return to both the blogging world and list-making.

My absence was due to an unplanned trip to Vietnam. Although it’s the country of my birth, I haven’t revisited in over a decade as the majority of my family is now based in Aus/NZ. The experience was surprising, challenging, nostalgic, and gave me a million reasons to revisit again soon!

TTT April 2017

Back to TTT: as most of you know, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week, the topic is Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book. I’ll be discussing books I’ve DNF’d, series I’ve abandoned, and books I’ve wholly avoided altogether in today’s post.


Genre Snobbery: 

You’d think that as an adult with a reading pile of at least 50% pure YA, I would embrace all fiction and realise that genre snobbery is a pretentious lie concocted by old cishet white men too afraid to venture from their comfort zone. Sadly, there are certain corners of the bookstore I rarely venture to, these include:

1. Crime: I really enjoy watching crime on TV or in movies, or even manga, but I could never quite get into it in novel format. My only brushes with the genre is Gone Girl, and a couple of Japanese crime novels. Perhaps I am just missing the great ones, but the Crime section with its uniformity in both covers (dark shades, silhouettes, giant author name) and title (always inevitably referencing an unnamed ‘Girl’) currently holds no appeal to me. Continue reading “10 Reasons I’ve Avoided Certain Books”