The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang | an incredible fantasy inspired by chinese history

review template (12)

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

May 1, 2018, from Harper Voyager
Adult fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

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.

cab5star

5 stars

This book. This book felt like a slow descent into madness. I’ve heard a lot about The Poppy War around the book community, namely its basis on Chinese history and the categorization of grimdark. Nothing prepared me for what The Poppy War was. It’s the brutal story of a girl forced to come to terms with the horrors that exist in the world, and the things she does to fight them.
Continue reading “The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang | an incredible fantasy inspired by chinese history”

IT by Stephen King | sometimes a problematic horror classic is something that can be so personal,

review template (1)

IT by Stephen King

September 15, 1986
Adult epic horror
Goodreads | Amazon

Welcome to Derry, Maine …

It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real …

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them back to Derry to face the nightmare without an end, and the evil without a name.

cab3star

3 stars

Where do I even begin with this book? To say I have very mixed feelings is understating it. There’s a lot of things I love about this book and would give a full five stars, and a lot of things I hate about this book that would earn any other book one star. I’ve compromised for three stars, but that really doesn’t cover my feelings on this book. It is a horror epic that somehow manages to illuminate friendship and childhood while also exploring the hateful parts of humanity. Does it work? I’m honestly not sure.

A caveat: my perspective on IT is absolutely colored by spending time in queer fandom spaces, reading fanfiction, and movie canon. I don’t think that perspective can be discarded in this review. For some reason, a ton of queer people (me included) connect with this book that is by today’s standards, homophobic. There are queer implications in the movie, but it comes out of the queer subtext in the book that I am 80% sure Stephen King never even realized. I ended up drafting an entire post about this topic after it overflowed this already hefty review, so, um, stay tuned?

Continue reading “IT by Stephen King | sometimes a problematic horror classic is something that can be so personal,”

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo | a dark, atmospheric urban fantasy

again, but better (13).png

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

October 8, 2019 from Flatiron Books
Urban Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

cab5star

5 stars

Ninth House was probably my most anticipated book of the year. For the record, here are some of my favourite things in literature: Leigh Bardugo books. Secret societies. Dark academia. Strong worldbuilding and a vivid setting. Characters that feel real. Ninth House has all of it, a tale of dark academia and privilege at the cost of others and murder and violence, all taking place at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Continue reading “Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo | a dark, atmospheric urban fantasy”

Into the Drowning Deep | a terrifying deep-sea horror story

again, but better (6)

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

November 14, 2017 from Orbit
Adult sci-fi horror
Goodreads | Amazon

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

cab4star

4 stars

People told me this book was scary, and I don’t usually scare easy, so I went into this thinking, “Oh, it’ll be fine, it’s probably not that scary!” I fell asleep after reading the first thirty or so pages and promptly had a very long, detailed dream about descending into the ocean in a submarine with five people and being ripped apart by killer mermaids. The next day, I read more of the book, had a panic attack about the fragility of life before I fell asleep, and then proceeded to have yet another dream about killer mermaids. I might not admit that this book was scary, but the fact that it immediately dug itself into my subconscious and stayed there long enough to remind me of the primal, repressed fear of death and says it all: Into the Drowning Deep is terrifying.

Continue reading “Into the Drowning Deep | a terrifying deep-sea horror story”

Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

May 14, 2019, from St. Martin’s Press
Adult contemporary romance
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Chapters Indigo

5 stars

cab5alt

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

This book. Y’all, this book. There was so much hype around it that I feared it wouldn’t live up, but I was absolutely hooked from the first chapter and it never went away. I would have read it in one sitting if I didn’t desperately try to savour it. Red, White, and Royal Blue plays off all my favourite romance tropes (eg. fake dating, enemies to friends to lovers) and some I didn’t know I liked, and all of it works perfectly. I loved every second of reading this book.

Continue reading “Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston”

Series Review: The Kiss Quotient & The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient & The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Contemporary adult romance
Goodreads | Amazon | Goodreads | Amazon

4 stars

cab4alt

Image result for the kiss quotient

The Kiss Quotient was my first foray into adult romance, and I have to say that it went fairly good – though my interest in the actual romance part leaves something to be desired. What I like about Helen Hoang is that she writes about autistic people falling in love, and though I usually don’t do too hot in the romance department (like, I haven’t had a crush on a real person in years), I love it because her books show autistic folks can and do fall in love, have sex, get married, and the whole shebang.

Continue reading “Series Review: The Kiss Quotient & The Bride Test by Helen Hoang”

REVIEW: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Image result for seven husbands of evelyn hugoTitle: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★
Spoilers?: Have Caution?
Goodreads | Amazon

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

I have heard so much about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and I can say that it almost, almost lives up to all the hype it’s been getting. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is an atmospheric historical fiction set in the golden age of Hollywood, with all the scandal that entails. However, I did have some minor issues with this book, especially in the first half. But then I cried at the end, and any book that can actually make me cry warrants 5 stars from me.

Continue reading “REVIEW: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid”