REVIEW: The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang

35068705Title: The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1)
Author: R. F. Kuang
Rating: ★★★★

“War was not a game, where one fought for honor and admiration, where masters would keep her from sustaining any real harm. War was a nightmare.”

We’re not even halfway through the year and yet again I am blown away by another debut. What a time to be alive. The Poppy War is a grimdark fantasy featuring a fierce heroine, addictive writing, and plenty of action. There are so many amazing elements about it that make it a totally engrossing read. This book is considered grimdark, and therefore I feel I need to mention that it contains graphic violence, graphic rape, mutilation, torture, mass murder, drug abuse, and many other things of that nature.

“Fear was impossible to eradicate. But so was the will to survive.”

R. F. Kuang’s writing was incredible: it was simple and yet completely addicting. The pacing was absolutely wonderful. The book is split into three parts, each growing darker as the story goes on. I was also very impressed by her ability to blend fantasy elements with history. The Poppy War is inspired by parts of Chinese history, such as the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Nanking Massacre, and it was very easy to see the illusions to those events throughout the book. In addition, there are many other components of the novel that make this such a gripping read: gods and goddesses, military school, shamanism, war strategy, and lots of fighting and action. 

“I have become something wonderful, she thought. I have become something terrible. Was she now a goddess or monster? Perhaps neither. Perhaps both.”

One of my favorites things about The Poppy War was the protagonist, Rin. She was such a well-developed heroine and her growth as a character was amazing to follow. I loved her intensity, her determination, her faults, her strengths. I also enjoyed her interactions with many of the side characters. In particular, I loved the easy friendship she forms with Kitanay, the complicated relationship between her and Altan, and the rivals-to-friends (to hopefully lovers? Please??) relationship that develops with Nezha. 

Just a small note. It takes a lot to rattle me, especially while reading. That being said, Chapter 21 was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to read. I had to pause a couple times before continuing, and at one point I even felt a little light-headed. Heed the content warnings, my friends. That was not easy chapter to read.

The Poppy War is an spectacular grimdark fantasy by debut author R. F. Kuang. The vivid storytelling, world-building, wonderful characters, and compelling plot all come together to create a riveting story. I can’t wait to read the next books in the series and I’m so excited to meet R. F. Kuang at BookCon! 

 

 

REVIEW: Furyborn – Claire Legrand (ARC)

34323570.jpgTitle: Furyborn (Empirium #1)
Author: Claire Legrand
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher. 

Once again, I’m annoyed with myself for the procrastination of reading a book that I would later end up really enjoying. There were so many elements about this that I absolutely loved: the characters, the writing, the plots. Furyborn is an excellent start to an exciting trilogy that I look forward to reading.

From the prologue, I was completely hooked by the story. It not only connects the stories of the two protagonists, Rielle and Eliana, but also gives a glimpse to how one of those stories will end up unfolding by the time the series is over. Furyborn is written in alternating chapters narrated by Rielle and Eliana, whose timelines are separated by a thousand years. Each of their POVs were action-packed and thrilling. I rushed through the pages in an effort to know what would happen next to both Rielle and Eliana. I also loved the fact that we’re told from the very beginning who the Blood Queen is. It made reading her chapters all the more fascinating; we follow her growth and become invested in her story, all the while knowing how it will end.

There are a lot of things about Furyborn that I believe will others will enjoy as much as I did: great writing, wonderful characters, intriguing plots and action-packed chapters. The alternating POVs and verging storylines blend together expertly to create a highly entertaining story. I can’t wait to continue with the rest of the series!

REVIEW: Whisper of the Tide – Sarah Tolcser (ARC)

36134048Title: Whisper of the Tide (Song of the Current #2)
Author: Sarah Tolcser
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

“You had to know what you wanted – but knowing wasn’t enough. You had to be willing to fight for it. To be so strong even the sea could not defy you. That is how strong we must be, to keep the things we love.”

This was such a fun sequel and the perfect ending to the series! I really enjoyed Song of the Current and I think it’s such a shame that these books don’t have more popularity. I really hope more people decide to read this series, because they are full entertainment!

“Doing the right thing had made me miserable. I’d already resolved to never do it again.”

Whisper of the Tide was just as action-packed and thrilling as the first book. There are so many things about this book to love: pirates, treasure hunts, female friendships, adventures. There were even some elements of the book that reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean and that made me enjoy it even more! Caro remains unapologetically herself, and love how she continues to grow as a character. Her relationship with Markos also grows and matures, which is very refreshing to read in a young adult book. The plot was fast-moving, the world-building remains excellent, and the writing as just as compelling as Song of the Current. I wish this was more than a duology; I would have loved to be back in this world for a third book!

Whisper of the Tide was a great ending to an entertaining series full of sea adventures, pirates, assassins, sea/river deities, and fun characters! If you enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean and books like Daughter of the Pirate King, then I would definitely suggest reading these books! They’re totally underrated and need more love from the bookish community. 

REVIEW: Circe – Madeline Miller

35959740Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Rating: ★★★★★

“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth.”

I’ve been a huge nerd for Greek mythology for almost half my life. My friends used to make fun of me because I read books like The Iliad and Metamorphoses for fun. When I studied abroad, I took a Myths in the Ancient World class and to this day, it remains the best class I’ve ever taken in my academic career. Not many authors can accomplish what Madeline Miller has done with Greek mythology, and when I found out she was writing a book about Circe, I was thrilled.

“Of all the mortals on the earth, there are only a few the gods will ever hear of. Consider the practicalities. By the time we learn their names, they are dead. They must be meteors indeed to catch our attention. The merely good: you are dust to us.”

While the stories of heroes have always been great, it was the heroines featured that I’m constantly fascinated by. Give me Andromeda over Perseus, Medea before Jason, Ariadne instead of Theseus. Circe is a book completely about her: while the other characters from the myths associated with her are present, this book is first and foremost about Circe and her story. We follow her journey as she discovers who she is and what she is capable of. We see all of her ups and downs, her struggles and inner turmoil, her heartache, her anger, her resolve, her love. Circe is a totally character driven book, and yet there was so much to her story that I never wanted to put the book down. Madeline Miller does an excellent job adding her own distinct twists to this Greek myth to create a story that is both genuine and unique.

“That is one thing gods and mortals share. When we are young, we think ourselves the first to have each feeling in the world.”

 The ending was absolutely perfect. It was probably one of the best endings to a book that I’ve ever read; it evoked a feeling of profound hope that made me feel a bit emotional. I’m so thankful that authors like Madeline Miller exist to bring to life the characters and stories of the ancient world that I’ve always been enamored with, and I can’t wait for whatever she writes next. 

 

REVIEW: The Oddling Prince – Nancy Springer (ARC)

36365200Title: The Oddling Prince
Author: Nancy Springer
Rating: ★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

I absolutely love book with medieval Irish (or in this case Scottish) settings and Celtic mythology so I was really looking forward to this. The Oddling Prince is a light read with a fascinating plot, but sadly there was just something missing for me to truly enjoy it.

The book’s strongest element is the fairytale-esque writing. The gorgeous descriptions and peaceful atmosphere draws the reader into the story. Coupled with the fact that the book is not that long, The Oddling Prince was an easy to get through. Another aspect that I liked was the relationship between Aric and Albaric: their newfound friendship was so pure and heartwarming. The ending, however, was…something. I didn’t necessarily dislike it, I’m just still not sure how I feel about it? The Oddling Prince is a whimsical, interesting story, but I think there were certain things missing that unfortunately didn’t allow me to enjoy it as much as I had hoped.