[Book Review] The Obsidian Tower – Melissa Caruso // political intrigue and necromancy

I’m honestly really appalled at myself that I’ve never read a Melissa Caruso book before. I requested The Obsidian Tower from NetGalley on a whim, buddy read it with Lili @ Utopia State of Mind, and absolutely ended up loving it! And now tbh I’m determined to read the rest of her books as well.

Not only is this book chock-full of amazing magic systems and political intrigue, it’s also got tons of casual queer rep. So if you’re looking to add more queer reads to your TBR for Pride Month, read on!

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[Book Review] Steel Crow Saga – Paul Krueger // fantasy post-WWII discussions of colonialism, forgiveness, and love of country

ETA 20 June 2020:

Following the allegations against Paul Krueger, I am rescinding my support of Steel Crow Saga and the rest of Paul’s books. I believe victims of harassment always, even if the harasser is someone I looked up to and deeply admired.

I have never subscribed to the belief that art can be separated from the artist, and I would be the worst kind of hypocrite if I don’t hold myself and my heroes to that same standard. I urge the rest of Steel Crow Saga fans to consider the courage people needed to muster to come forward, and to retract their support as well.

To the victims, I am deeply sorry for all that you have experienced, and I am also sorry if my outspoken support for Paul resurrected any pain, fear, discomfort, or trauma. I sincerely pray for light and healing for all of you.

***

A couple of months ago, I was applying for a senior manager position in another company. The head honcho who would be my direct supervisor if I got the job asked me what I looked to do in my spare time. I said that I liked to read, so she asked me what I was currently reading. At the time, I was participating in #SteelCrowReadathon by Shealea, so I said I was reading that. The director asked me what it was about – and that’s how I ended up spending fifteen minutes of a job interview gushing about a book.

(I got the job, by the way.)

Read on to find out what I loved about this amazing five-star read!

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Buy this book here!
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How Not to End a Trilogy: The Case of The Folk of the Air

This review has been three years in the making. Lol.

When I first read The Cruel Prince back in 2018, I honestly saw the appeal. I thought it wasn’t a particularly great book, but it was a highly entertaining one. It was problematic as fuck – it portrayed a victim being in a romantic relationship with her abuser as a good thing and perpetuated that age-old super harmful stereotype of boys being mean to girls because they like them. But it was still enjoyable to read because its main character was one of the most ruthless, ambitious, cunning girls I’ve ever seen in YA fiction. I didn’t know where The Cruel Prince was going to take me, but I did know I wanted to go along with Jude Duarte.

Little did I know the Jude that developed in The Cruel Prince, the Jude that I fell in love with in The Wicked King, was going to be snatched away and replaced by a changeling (hah!) in The Queen of Nothing.

Read on to find out how I was let down by one of the most anticipated reads of the entire YA community.

(Be aware though that this discussion post is not spoiler-free!)

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Get The Cruel Prince here, The Wicked King here, or The Queen of Nothing here.

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[Mini-Review] 3 Adult Fantasies That Blew My Mind

Orbit really be out here taking our money and leaving us ready to give them more, huh?

Today, I’ll be bringing to you three fantasy books that I recently read and absolutely adored. If you’re looking to diversify your adult fantasy shelf, definitely check out this post. I’ve got three underrated gems just waiting to catch your attention. 😉

As an added bonus, they’re all written by authors of colour! And as Leo Tolstoy once said, support authors of color.

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[Mini-Review] 3 Adult Books Featuring Complex Female Characters

A couple of weeks ago, people on Twitter started acting up again (but what else is new) demanding that authors write complex female characters rather than female characters who simply fell into the archetype of “badass”. This, naturally, was not very well-received, and was also a dumb AF take. If you want to read about complex female characters, I highly suggest you check out the works of POC, queer, and/or disabled writers – you know, someone other than the usual cishet white women books you usually read?

Anyway, there have been some really great responses to this (one of my favorites is Fadwa’s video where she talks about 20 books with complex female characters – and most of them were written by POC!) so I wanted to chime in as well with a quick mini-review of three books I read recently, all of which also have complex female characters!

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[Book Review] The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics – Olivia Waite // a sexy and scientific foray into history

Quite often, it turns out my random, on-a-whim purchases turn out to be some of my absolute favourite reads. I’d been seeing The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics on Twitter for quite some time – and I know so much of the f/f fan brigade absolutely adored it – but I didn’t actually buy it until the e-book went on sale a few weeks ago.

Once I delved into this book, I immediately understood the hype. The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics has got so much going for it, and I’m honestly kicking myself a little bit for not reading it earlier.

Want to find out why I adored this f/f historical romance so much? Read on!

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Get this book here!

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[Book Review] Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia // a hauntingly familiar coming-of-age and noir blend

I’ll be honest. The only reason I requested this book is because of the shark on the cover. 😅 However, I ended up absolutely loving it! (Not to mention completely and totally falling for Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing. Am I off to get more of her books now? I can neither confirm nor deny.)

I used to tell people that I wasn’t really interested in literary fiction. Turns out, I’m just uninterested in literary fiction written by and featuring cishet white men.

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Buy this book here!

Curious about Untamed Shores by Silvia Moreno-Garcia? Read on to find out what I thought!

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[Book Review] The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso // a portrait of the Filipino woman

Listen. If you don’t know by now how hard I ball for Filipino authors – well then, allow me to take the time to welcome you to my blog, because you’re definitely new around these parts if you don’t know that about me!

I’ve been a long-time fan and supporter of Kay’s, and when I heard that her novel The Wolf of Oren-Yaro was going to be published, I was ecstatic. Not only because it’s a magnificent, unapologetically Filipino-coded high fantasy, but also because my dream publisher and favourite industry bookish people of all time, Orbit, was the pioneer that decided to take a chance on this novel. Naturally, when Shealea (whose blog is temporarily down while she makes some improvements!) announced the #HailTheBitchQueen tour, I knew I had to sign up.

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Get this book here!

Despite my hellish work schedule (which you already know all about if you follow me and my rantings on Twitter, lol) and the intimidating page count (496, y’all!), I just knew I had to sign up. And I absolutely didn’t regret it one bit.

Read on to find out why!

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The Makings of a Good Redemption Arc (a discussion of The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala)

Hey there guys, gals, and non-binary pals! Today, I want to tell you all about another book that I bought months ago and only recently finished (because I am trash like that). I posted one of my usual ‘pick my next read from my physical TBR’ polls on Twitter (which I started doing in an attempt to knock some items off of the catastrophically large pile of books I haven’t read yet) and the book that won that particular poll was The Tiger at Midnight, by Swati Teerdhala.

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Get this book here!

One aspect of this book immediately caught my attention, and that’s the redemption arc one of the main characters undergoes. It got me thinking about redemption arcs in general, and how authors sometimes don’t really get to pull it off well because they fundamentally misunderstand their own characters (I’m looking at you, J.K. Rowling).

What really struck me about The Tiger at Midnight and its featured redemption arc is how well it was done. Redemption arcs – especially those that feature the character being redeemed falling in love with a hero – can often be fraught with toxic pitfalls, but this book avoided them neatly and nicely. And in this blog entry, I break down what was it about this redemption arc that made it work!

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When Do Slow-Paced Books Work? (a discussion of Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson)

It was too slow-paced. I was bored. I kept flipping pages to get to the end. These phrases are just some of the common criticisms we hear often regarding books that are either slow-paced or have a stretched out plot. Sometimes, those criticisms are valid. After all, I’ve done my fair share of flipping through books that I felt were taking for-fucking-ever to get to the point like Wicked Saints.

However, I’d like to present my hot take for the day: a slow pace can be fit a book better than a fast one, and it totally depends on the author’s ultimate goals for their audience’s reading experience.

A perfect example is the book I recently finished, Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. At first, I was pretty reluctant to pick up the book because I’d been seeing mixed reviews of it online, but I decided to one day (the day me, JM, Inah, and Miel went to Pride, incidentally!) because a) that cover is gorgeous, and b) it was on sale!

After an interminably loooong time (I mean, clearly – I bought it in June and just finished reading it in November, lol) I finally picked up this book, went very quickly through it, and realized that I actually disagreed with most people’s assessment that the book was boring!

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Purchase this book here.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Not everyone’s going to have the same opinion about a book. But I do think that, in general, we’ve been spoiled by fast-paced, action-packed YA books where everything moves along really quickly. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Some of my favorite books play out like a movie on the page. But because we’re so used to things being set in motion quickly, we’ve come to expect that same treatment for almost every book we read.

I believe that the slow pace worked just fine for Sorcery of Thorns and added an aspect to the book that would not have been there had the plot gone faster.

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