Archives

Book Review: The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

Book Review: The Dragon Republic by R. F. KuangThe Dragon Republic by R F Kuang
Series: The Poppy War #3
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 8th August 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Borrowed, Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars
In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.</br></br>

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.</br></br>

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.

I don’t even know where to start with this review. I put off reading The Dragon Republic for almost a year. A YEAR. I adored The Poppy War and after THAT. ENDING. I knew I had to be in the right headspace for the sequel. So I waited, and waited, and waited. Then I finally though screw it, and picked The Dragon Republic up and never looked back.

Rin is still going through a lot of crap. After the way The Poppy War ended, I wasn’t too sure what to think or expect of her character. She did some awful things, and I think it takes a very talented writer to pull off a character in such a way that Kuang did. Honestly, Rin’s character development (or, sometimes, lack thereof) is done wonderously and it makes so much sense. She has grown in lots of ways, but in others she’s still the same ol’ Rin, leaving lots of room for her to continue to grow and work on her sh*t in the final book in the trilogy.

I do have a bone to pick with Kuang, though, because she completely destroyed my ship. Like, blew it out of the harbour. I’m mad and angry and super sad. And yet I’m still clinging onto the fact that it might resurface somewhat in the third book. PLEASE GIVE ME THIS.

In all seriousness, the only issue I have with this series so far is that Rin has, like, no female friends. All her close friends are guys, and she often shuts out female characters and looks down on them and belittles them. I really hope that this is addressed and tackled in the third book, as I think it’s the only downfall of the series for me. I don’t want to read about a badass main character if they don’t have any badass female friends! GIVE ME FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS, DAMMIT.

Read the book. That is all I wish to say on the matter.

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan DennardTruthwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 5th January 2016
Publisher: Tor
Source: Bought, Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Do you ever read a book that you’re SO. EXCITED. for and then come out of it wondering what the hell the bookternet is thinking by hyping it up? That’s how I feel about Truthwitch. You can watch my Witchlands vlog below if you’re interested!

I remember when Truthwitch was coming out and there was this whole big campaign alongside Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I’m pretty sure it was one of the biggest book marketing campaigns I had seen, and it seemed as though everyone was talking about the book. I was sad I’d missed out by not getting in on the hype early on, and since then I’d kept putting off reading Truthwitch because I wasn’t ready to dive into a new and addictive series.

I really shouldn’t have bothered, though, because Truthwitch turned out to be such a disappointment. I don’t think it was soley because I’d hyped it up in my head, as it seems as though this book series has a massive online fanbase. I don’t really understand why.

My main issue with Truthwitch is that I don’t care about any of the characters, and the reason for that is that they’re badly written. We follow the POVs of four characters in the first book, all of which sound exactly the same. I struggled to differentiate between them, and I had kept forgetting whose head I was supposed to be in in the middle of chapters.

I don’t think Truthwitch is very well written. It lands you straight into the world and does a bunch of info-dumping in the first half of the book, not giving you any time to settle in or get to know the characters. And then in the second half of the book you’re expected to care about these characters and empathise with what they’re going through, even though the author spent all her time in the first half info-dumping and distracting you from getting to know them.

It didn’t make much sense to me.

In addition, it was clear to me that the author wanted this to be a fast paced and action packed story. And it was. To such an extent that the characters were all over the place. They were rushing from one scene to the next, from one location to another, and I had absolutely no time to settle down and enjoy the story because there was always another thing going on.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy fast paced plots. Slow plots can bore me. But if a plot is fast paced, the rest of the book has to find some sort of balance. I have to care about the characters who are running around, and I have to understand the world building and why they’re running.

I wasn’t a fan of Truthwitch, and I’m so disappointed that I hyped it up and waited so long to read it. I tried to read the sequel, but I ended up DNF-ing Windwitch and I won’t be continuing with the series, unfortunately.

Book Review: Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Book Review: Diamond City by Francesca FloresDiamond City by Francesca Flores
Series: Diamond City #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 28th January 2020
Publisher: Macmillan
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-half-stars

Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.

Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.

DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.

To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn't want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything.

I was really impressed by Diamond City! It’s a very strong debut that is action packed and full of assassinations and heists and deceit. Everything you need, right?

I got very strong Aelin vibes from Aina, the main character. I’m not sure if the author has read Throne of Glass, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she was inspired by it. I really enjoyed reading about Aina’s character growth, as she started off very closed off and then slowly opened up around her close group of friends.

I think the friendships were the best part of the book for me. I loved all of the side characters and how they interacted with Aina. They really helped bring out the best in her and helped her realise what was good and what was bad.

I have to put a warning in here about abuse, as Aina is in an abusive almost-relationship with her boss, who she kind of idolises for saving her from dying. She slowly comes to realise that it’s unhealthy though, somewhat with the help of other characters but mostly through her own realisations.

I have to say that there was a lot less diamond stuff and magic than I was expecting. This book is more of a low fantasy than anything, and the fantasy stuff only came up in a few scenes. Most of the book focuses on assassinations and heists, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not really how the book is being marketed!

Like I said, I really enjoyed this one and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel when it comes out – hopefully next year!

Book Review: The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty

Book Review: The Empire of Gold by S. A. ChakrabortyThe Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty
Series: Daevabad #3
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 11th June 2020
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

The Empire of Gold is, without a doubt, one of the best conclusions I’ve ever read. The City of Brass is one of the best series I’ve ever read, and I’m very glad that Chakraborty wrapped it up in this way. It’s full on perfection, so read my review below to hear my somewhat rambly thoughts on it.

If you’re interested, I’ve also uploaded a video review on Booktube, in which I almost cry on camera, get really protective of Nahri, and gush about how proud I am of everyone.

Continue reading

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour of Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez! It’s a very solid fantasy debut inspired by Bolivian politics and mythology.

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel IbañezWoven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 7th January 2020
Publisher: Macmillan
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

Woven in Moonlight was a really good read! It took no time at all to get into, and I found myself reading it very quickly as I was completely enamored by the world building. The author has done a fantastic job building this world that is inspired by Bolivian myths and politics, and because she was clearly quite invested in her craft, I was as well.

I think the world building was the strongest point of the book, as the main plot of Ximena being a decoy was a bit of a let down. Ximena’s character or personality may have had something to do with this, as she was far too open about everything she was talking about. Because she kept talking about herself and her background, and because she was so impulsive, the whole decoy plot point fell apart, as it didn’t really make much sense.

I wasn’t too keen on the romance, but this is YA so what can you do? I often feel very meh about YA romances nowadays, so to be honest I wasn’t expecting much.

Overall, Woven in Moonlight is a solid debut, and if you’re into YA fantasy then I would recommend picking it up!