Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2018

This is a classic by now. I’ve done this tag before, last year. It’s a lot of fun and a neat way to reflect on the year so far (and catch you guys up to what I’ve been reading). Here is one of the original creators where you can find the original questions (I couldn’t find a working link for the other one). Feel free to let me know if you do it too, though I know, I know, it’s getting late.

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1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2018

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Radiance is a really, really good book, guys. It’s so weird and so sad and so beautiful and so funny. It’s also incredibly smart. I kind of want to re-read this already even though I read it for the first time less than two months ago.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018

I’ve barely been reading sequels this year?? Who am I, Hedwig?

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Out of those few, An Artificial Night from the Toby Daye series is definitely the best as a sequel. The jump in quality between this and the previous books in the series is stark. All the potential gets realized while continuing with the tone and content of those books. That’s why I think it’s a great sequel, aside from a really good book. Props to Seanan.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

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This just came out!!! The tone and style of Uprooted have stuck with me so I can’t wait to read another book from Novik written in the same vein, even if they’re unconnected. Also almost all the new books on my yearly tbr disappointed me, so please let this be the exception.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

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I’ve been waiting for Vengeful since I found out it was going to be a thing! I trust V. E. Schwab to make this book not a rehash of Vicious and a good continuation of the story. September can’t come soon enough.

5. Biggest disappointment

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Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda turned into another victim of the insane hype.  I don’t want to discount anyone who has found a lot of meaning in this book and the movie or anything. I just wasn’t for me and barely left an impression.

6. Biggest surprise

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To me, The Poppy War came out of nowhere. I certainly didn’t expect to be swept into such a rich historical-ish fantasy just like that. It’s vicious, dark and very true at the same time, reshaping a piece of history, the Second Sino-Japanese War, that rarely gets talked about in “the west”. I truly think R.F. Kuang has the potential to become a really influential voice in SFF, and she’s barely older than me!

7. Favourite new author (Debut or new to you)

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I knew N. K. Jemisin was going to become a favorite author since I read The Fifth Season. The narrative voice is tight and brutally effective. That alone makes me want to read everything she’s ever written. Yet her books are incredibly smart and she brings different perspectives to fantasy, namely in the form of female voice, queer one, and a lot characters of color.

8. Newest fictional crush

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My love for Sam from The Diviners series has only grown and grown with each book. Please don’t hurt him, Libba Bray.

9. Newest favourite character

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Lately I’ve been gravitating more to books based on their writing? So I’m stuck on this one. Maybe Antoinette Conway from The Trespassar even though she technically appears first in The Secret Place. I really loved how abrasive and brash her character was, but without becoming a caricature. Also Moran and Conway are probably my favorite platonic dynamic from this year so far.

10. Book that made you cry

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The ending of Radiance had me bawling my eyes out at 4am at its sheer beauty. It made the entire book worth it.

11. Book that made you happy

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Saving Francesca was the odd contemporary that made me actually feel things. The tone and mood of the book took me right back to high school in the best of ways. It’s ultimately about finding your place and what true friendship entails. I just thought it was lovely.

12. Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year

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It didn’t say it had have been released this year, so I’m going to go with John Huston’s 1987 adaptation of The Dead by James Joyce. It’s such a quiet movie with deep implications, and though it’s not my favorite movie, I have to admire the work that it took to adapt the text so faithfully. Sorry for going so obscure…

13. Favourite review you’ve written this year

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Out of the like 3 I’ve written, I really liked how I was able to pin down what didn’t work for me in The Thief.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

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Did I buy the new hardcover of Vicious just so it would match Vengeful? You bet! Seriously it is gorgeous and so very red and glossy.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

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It is a crime that I haven’t read Strange the Dreamer even though I’ve owned it for over a year now. I’m just afraid at this point because, whoa, the hype is strong in this one.

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WWW Wednesday #3

So, in case you don’t know: WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by  MizB at A Daily Rhythm, and now found at Taking on a World of Words. It is made up of three questions (or Ws) are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So let’s dive in.

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Getting Back + Some Good Books

Remember when I made a post at the beginning of the year with goals? How I wanted to be consistent for once?

Well, then I was the busiest I’ve been in two years. On my fourth semester of university, the difficulty of my classes (finally) spiked and I was taking language classes for ten hours on top of that while also trying to keep my social life from dying. I read a lot less books–when they weren’t assigned at least. My (fiction) writing slowed significantly, but most of my free time went towards that. Blogging, to say the least, fell by the wayside. I managed to remain active on GoodReads and Twitter, so yeah shameless plug.

It’s a shame because I really missed the bookish community here. I was really proud of the content I was making pre-unintended-hiatus and all. Next semester I’ll be going to school less hours a week, but I want to get back into the swing of things by then. Though I have the same target as before of three post a week, give or take, my content might change a little. I’ll still be mostly a book blog, don’t get me wrong, but this whole year so far I’ve been reckoning with my reading tastes changing and what that means for me and the blog.

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Now onto some fun stuff, here are some of the best books I’ve read on my time away!

  • Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray — This series keeps on giving! Honestly, I hadn’t found myself this invested on the characters in a long time, but Bray paints them and the historical setting so vividly, I can’t help it. This installment is a game-changer in the best of ways, though now I’m scared about the next book.
  • One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid — A romance-centered book (I’m told it’s not straight romance in the genre sense) that actually got me to care about its characters. It’s a bit idealized but raw and introspective at the same time, relying heavily on character development. Also I cried which I don’t do unless I’m actually invested. Now I will read all this author writes.
  • The Plague by Albert Camus — The only assigned book to make it into my list. I can’t say much except that I love the existentialists. This is absurdism meets ragtag band of misfits and I loved it from start to finish.
  • Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente — Perhaps the weirdest book I’ve read, ever? This book is a mix of a bunch of genres, told through mixed media, with a wicked sense of humor, many literary allusions and also a harrowing tale about the death of complicated woman? (That’s not a spoiler since you learn that on the first page). IN FREAKING SPACE. Against all odds, it works. It’s also perhaps one of the best book I’ve read, and I am so glad it exists.
  • The Trespasser by Tana French — I just love French’s writing and this series. I’ve read at least one for the past four summers and I’m so so sad I won’t have another one for next year.

Book Review: The Poppy War

Title: The Poppy War

Author:  R. F. Kuang

Series: The Poppy Wars trilogy #1

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Rating: ★★★½

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

The Poppy War is definitely worth the hype it’s been getting. Not only does it present an interesting take on fantasy tropes, but matches it with engaging characters and a rich sense of history.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Poppy War”

Book Review: The Thief

448873.jpgTitle: The Thief

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

Series: The Queen’s Thief #1

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Greenwillow books

Release Date: 1996

Rating: ★★☆☆

The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities.

What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses

This book was mostly set up. Sure what it is setting up to sounds promising, but we don’t get much of that, not yet.
Continue reading “Book Review: The Thief”