Book Review: The Poppy War


Rating: 5 out of 5.

  • Author: R.F. Kuang
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Page Count: 544
  • Date Started: August 29
  • Date Finished: September 10
  • Spoilers? No, no spoilers ahead.

A Brief Description

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

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.

Goodreads || Amazon (US)


Chaos does not discriminate…

R.F. Kuang

My Review

This book was a ride. I was drawn in by the first 50 pages. This book is about Rin who gets in to Nikara’s most prestigious school, Sinegard. Here she trains to be a warrior, but it’s so much more than that. This book was dark, gritty and political aspects of a world at war. This also dealt with some hard hitting topics, such as addiction, the consequences of war and how relationships struggle to survive with both of these aspects in play.

Rin, and all the other characters in this book are incredibly, un-apologetically morally gray. Rin, a war orphan, was raised in a provincial town, adjusts to the culture of Sinegard, where the children or generals and war lords are accepted. She struggles with feeling inadequate and grows into her new life.

The ending was tragic and unexpected. I became incredibly attached to the characters (and there are A LOT of characters) I am very excited to pick up the next book in the series “The Dragon Republic.”

One thing I’m going to note is that this book is very heavy on the plot, politics and characters. In addition, this book does not shy away from gore (there’s a lot of gore). It also does not shy away from the hard hitting topics, such as abuse, addiction, war, violence etc. If you aren’t interested in reading a book that has a lot of these topics and themes throughout, I would skip this one.

Have you read this one? What did you think? If not, do you think you’ll be picking it up soon! Let me know in the comments. I hope everyone has a wonderful day, and as always, keep reading 🙂


~Cam

Book Review: Darkdawn


Rating: 5 out of 5.

  • Author: Jay Kristoff
  • Genre: Adult Fantasy
  • Page Count: 478
  • Date Started: 9/3/2019
  • Date Finished: 9/8/2019
  • Spoilers? YES. Steer clear if you don’t want to be spoiled

A Brief Description

This is the third book in the Nevernight Chronicles series. There WILL be spoilers ahead. Tread with caution, gentlefriends.

A ruthless young assassin’s journey for revenge comes to a stunning end in the conclusion of this acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy.

The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?

Goodreads || Amazon


What doesn’t kill me had better fucking run

Jay Kristoff
pg 97

My Review

Wow wow wow wow. What a conclusion! I loved this. First of all, the cover for this book is beautiful. When I opened the package I was surprised to find that I had received a signed first edition! Now, on to my review: I cried, I smiled and laughed, and cried some more. I knew that characters would die, but each death gutted me more than the last. I hadn’t realized how attached I had gotten to each and every single one of the characters in Mia’s circle. There was some major character development that both Mia and her brother Jonnen underwent. I love how their relationship blossomed from hatred, to tolerance, to love. While I hated Jonnens’ character at first, I grew to love him as time went on. I loved the relation that formed with Eclipse and I was devastated with Eclipse’s conclusion. I think it was the death I cried the most on after Ashlinn’s of course. There were many plot twists that had me on the edge of my seat and craving more. When I wasn’t reading this book, I was THINKING about reading this book. The pacing was pretty good, and it felt logical. Also, I was not expecting Mercurio to be the narrator! I was expecting someone like Mister Kindly, but imagine my surprise, when instead it’s Mercurio (who I still loved by the way). I loved the action and fight sequences in this as they felt high stakes and well orchestrated. The quotes that stood out to me in this book were about empowerment an coping with loss. I loved every second of this book. I cannot recommend this series enough, and I know for a fact that this series will be a treasured favorite and I will re-read it many times.


Blessings and curses fall on the wicked and the just alike. Fair is a fairy tale. Nothing’s claimed by those who don’t want it, and nothing’s kept by those who won’t fight for it. So let’s fight. Fuck the gods. Fuck it all. Let’s take the world by the throat and make it gives us what we want.

Jay Kristoff

One thing I will say about this is that the ending of the book…. will be very controversial to some. I liked the closure that we were given and the way that everything was wrapped up, but I realize that others may not feel this way. What did you think of Darkdawn? Did you like it? Love it? Hate it? Let’s discuss below! As always, have a wonderful day, and happy reading! 🙂

~Cam

Top Ten Tuesday: September 10th

T op Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl 

TW: There is a safety pin on the cover of book number 8. I realize that this can be triggering for those who have struggled with self-harm and wanted to warn you ahead of time.

Books on my TBR that I’m Avoiding and Why

  1. IT- Stephen King

This book is close to 1200 pages. Need I same more about why this book intimidates me and why I’m avoiding it?

2. Ninth House- Leigh Bardugo

Okay, so yes. This book has not been released yet. This one still intimidates me. I know that this book is very very different from the Grishaverse books that she has written. This book has had very mixed reviews and it’s rather controversial in the book community. I will still read this, but I’m going to be nervous beforehand.

3. The Obelisk Gate- N.K Jemisin

This is the second book in the Broken Earth trilogy. While I enjoyed the first book for the most part, it was written in 2nd person, which makes it incredibly difficult to enthrall myself with. I will be reading it at some point, I don’t know when exactly that will be.

4. The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive 1)- Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so this book is a little over 1000 pages. Not only that, but it is dense high fantasy. I love Brandon Sanderson’s writing, as it is very easy to get into. The words wrap themselves around you and keep you enthralled very easily…. but it’s 1000 pages 🙂

5. Eye of the World-Robert Jordan

This is the first book in a 14 book, high fantasy, very wordy fantasy series. You either love this series or you hate it. The commitment needed to delve into this series stops me short. I will get to this one day, after I have had enough time to prepare myself for it.

6. Judas Unchained- Peter F. Hamilton

This next one is the 2nd book in a space opera series. Now, don’t get me wrong, I -love- space opera. This book has over 1000 pages (do you sense a trend here ;p) The concept of the first book was so incredibly interesting: Humans have beaten aging and death. Humans can pay to have their bodies “rejuvanated” and wake in a body decades younger, while they themselves are in the upwards of 1000 years old. Teleportation across 600 stars and their respective planets is achieved in moments through worm holes that connect humanity together. It’s a lot to take in and is incredibly scary to think about, need I say more?

7. The Children Act -Ian McEwan

This is a story about a judge who gets a case where a minor is refusing a blood transfusion, even though he would die without one. The child is a Jehovah’s Witness and his parents are also pushing for him to reject this life-saving treatment. Being that I grew up one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this story hits close to home. I can’t tell you how many people I heard about that denied a blood transfusion on the basis of their faith, and they died because of it. I need to be emotionally prepared to enter that kind of world again.

8. Sad Perfect- Stephanie Elliot

This is the story of a girl who struggles with the eating disorder, ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) It is when you severely restrict the kinds of food you like, and stick to the safe foods that you like. The best way to describe it is extremely picky eating (mostly due to the texture or taste of foods) I myself have struggled with ARFID for as long as I could remember. I have, through determination and will, expanded my diet a lot since I was a kid. This matter still hits me right in the heart, and I’m worried that it will bring up rather unpleasant memories and feelings. I’m not sure if I will every be ready to read this, but seeing myself in literature is wonderful.

9. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly- Stephanie Oakes

This is the story of Minnow Bly, who grew up in a religious cult. She is now suspected of murder of the cult leader and this tells the story of what actually happened. Being that I grew up in a cult, it will bring up some unpleasant memories. While all cults are not the same in their teachings, the practices and methods they use to draw people in and keep them in are very similar. I have done meticulous research on this, and I know that I will draw comparisons. I would also be incredibly sad if it didn’t capture the menance that cults are to our society and the people trapped in them.

10. The Turn of the Key- Ruth Ware

Look, I know this was released last month. I’ve only heard good things about this book, and seeing that I haven’t had much luck with thrillers in the past, I’m worried about going in to this one. I plan on reading it in October (spooky season :D) I just feel that everyone has already read this one.

That’s the ten books I’ve been avoiding! What are some of yours? Are any of them on my list? What are your reasons for putting them off? If you’ve completed TTT today, link yours in the comments below. As always, have a wonderful day, and keep reading ❤

~Cam

WWW Wednesday- September 4th, 2019

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

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

Currently Reading

I FINALLY have Darkdawn in my hands. I have been waiting for this book since I finished Godsgrave in August. I don’t know how those who had to wait a whole 2 years for this book did it! I’m not very far into it, but I’m LOVING it. I know that I’m going to fly through it. I’m definitely trying to avoid any spoilers online and have been successful with this so far!

I’m also reading The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. I’m a little bit over halfway through this one, and I’m enjoying it. I definitely love the characters in this, and the world building is amazing! I don’t want to say much else on this one until I review it, so stick around for that soon! 🙂


Recently Finished

I had some very mixed feelings about this one. I gave this one three stars, and while I enjoyed it, I had some qualms with some of the characters and the way the story was written. I think I will still be reading the sequel so I can find out what happens, but it’s going to be on the back burner for now. Check out my review for The Cruel Prince by Holly Black here.


Reading Next

Okay, this is another book that I have been super excited to read. This is a story of a witch and a witch hunter who are forced into holy matrimony and the chaos that ensues. I am so excited to read this one, and I have MAJOR cover love for it as well. It’s even more gorgeous in person! I’ll probably pick this up after I finish reading what I’m currently reading.

What are you reading? What did you just finish reading? What are you planning on reading next?

I hope you have a wonderful day, and as always, happy reading.

~Cam

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Tropes


***Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018, where Jana posts topics in advance for other bloggers to make posts about. ***


Heists

Heists, thieves and sneaking around? Come on, what’s not to love? Six of Crows and The Lies of Locke Lamora have to be two of my faves fantasies out there, so it comes as no surprise that this is on my list.


Hard Exterior/Gooey Interior

I love a character who exhibits the rough around the edges, “tough boy/girl” exterior while inside they truly do care about others strongly and deeply. I always love a character who tries to project that they don’t care, but fails due to how they empathize /sympathize with those around them.


Strong Female Character

Do I really need to elaborate on why I need this trope in my life?


Non Linear Timeline

Alright alright, hear me out: I love non linear timelines. I love to see the juxtaposition between past and present, present and future etc. I love to see the how things were and how they are now. I love to theorize how they got that way, or why. My favorite example of this is The Handmaid’s Tale . It leaves a lot of room for theories and twists.


Hidden Royalty

I love a “you’re actually a queen/princess/prince/king story” I love to see how the person changes after they find out they’re a royal. To be honest, I love stories that include royalty in general.


Found Family

I love found family. As someone who doesn’t have a “traditional family” I feel found family in a very profound way. There’s nothing more heartwarming than finding unconditionally supportive friends who are closer than family, especially in books.


SPACE

If you couldn’t tell by my theme, and my blog’s name, I love anything space. I find the topic of space so fascinating and so brilliant that I am always drawn to science fiction and books set in other galaxies, planets, worlds etc.


Quests

I love a well built world, I love the mystery and intrigue of trying to figure out how to solve a world shattering problem. Quests allow me to explore a world, while also having some major problem solving take place.


Intrigue/Politics

I love a world that has intrigue, politics, backstabbing, oh the drama! I love a character who feels like a fish out of water navigating the courts of some far off kingdom as they try to hide their identity and fit in. I love it all. It’s just very entertaining to read, and I love to read about the politcal strife that kingdoms/countries undergo and how our characters react to it.


Hard Magic Systems

I love a magic system that has rules. I love a magic system that limits our character to a certain extent so they have to use their problem solving skills to come up with a solution to defeat whatever villain they are up against.


What about you? What some of your #TopTenTuesday tropes? Do you share any of mine? Do you dislike any of mine? Let’s discuss below! I hope you have a wonderful day, and remember to keep reading. 🙂

~Cam

Book Review: Mooncakes (ARC)


Rating: 5 out of 5.


A Brief Description

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.


A Spoiler Free Review

I wanted to thank Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this wonderfully heartwarming story.

For starters, this book had wonderful representation for hard of hearing and LGBTQ rep. Nova is hard of hearing and wears a hearing aid. Tam is non-binary and goes by they/them pronouns. They are referred to as such for the duration of the story as well. Nova had two grandmothers who were in a relationship and this wasn’t questioned and there was no homophobia in this respect, or any other.

The friendship between Tam and Nova is pure and wonderful. Their relationships is even more so. I fell in love with their characters and found myself rooting for them and crying with them as well.

The art in this story is GORGEOUS. The drawings are cute and it’s very colorful and pleasing to the eye. I found it very engaging and it kept me wanting more. Most of the ARC I received had color but the last few chapters were not, but either way, the art style still kept me engaged.

The plot felt high stakes and engaging as well. It felt believable and I loved the characters and how they stood up for each other.

I highly recommend this story to anyone and everyone who wants a heartwarming coming of age story about queer witches set in New England in the months of autumn. This book comes out October 15th, 2019 and can be found below:

Goodreads || Amazon (US)

My Experiences with Censorship

I have always loved to read. Growing up, I would read any opportunity that I could. I would devour books and visit the library at least 2 or 3 times a month, lugging home around 10-15 books each time. Things changed after my parents joined a religious cult.

This cult, in essence banned the reading of anything that was not published by their publishing branch. While they didn’t EXPLICITLY say that you couldn’t read something, you were seen as “less dedicated” which was the worst way to be seen in an organization like this. Anything that was explicitly against them was forbidden. They allowed for no criticism and anything that disagreed with their teachings was off limits. Some examples are evolution, LGBT rights, the Big Bang, the practice of blood transfusions, associating with those outside the organization and many more. It mattered greatly what you thought on the issues. You were supposed to unquestioningly accept what you were given by “the organization.” You could not question beliefs or ask questions that made it seem like you had doubt.

Once I was out and did some research I came across a model developed by Steven Hassan, a researcher who studies the effects of coercive control, called the BITE Model. Each letter stands for a different aspect of control, B for Behavior, I for Information, T for Thought, and E for Emotional control. All of these work in tandem with one another, but I’m going to focus on the I, or information control. If you would like to read up on the other methods of control please visit Steven Hassan’s site here.

Cults don’t want their members to have access to outside sources, whether this be literature, movies, TV shows, and magazines etc because they don’t want their members to be able to find out the truth about the lies they are telling them. This unsurprising-ly works to keep members inline and unquestioning.

I was 7 or 8 years old when my parents had joined the cult, so I followed the rules. I limited reading about the things I loved: magic, fantasy, LGBTQ+ rep, and scientific topics. From then on, I lost my love of reading. I wasn’t reading as much and I was incredibly unhappy. I would feel immense guilt if I read a book that had any of these topics covered. It wasn’t until at least a decade later that I stumbled across this book:

This book was instrumental in changing my life. Carl Sagan was a scientists in the 1960s and 1970s who changed the way that the public viewed science. He was the Neil Degrasse Tyson of the 60s-90s. He had a love of science and was passionate about teaching others. This particular book, as titled, was about breaking the debunked fallacies of the past, witchcraft, UFOs, faith healing, demons, and many more. It stepped you through all of these different fallacies and critically analyzed them and why exactly they were debunked.

This made me question everything. This made me critically analyze every single thing I had been told and taught. I found many things to be lacking. After that, I found my love for reading again. I began reading voraciously again. I would question and critically analyze everything, and to this day I still do. I try to read widely… mostly science fiction and fantasy, but I also love to read books about science and the world around us. For so long I was raised to believe half-truths and outright lies. It was not all for naught because it has made me a skeptic who analyzes things in a scientific manner. I couldn’t live any other day.

Have a wonderful day and remember to keep reading!

~Cam