Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao | a powerful story about diaspora

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Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao

October 15, 2019, from Simon Pulse
YA contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, pronounced Āh-lěe, after the mountain in Taiwan.

Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the “they belong together” whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face.

But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future.

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4 stars

Initially, Our Wayward Fate caught my eye because I’d heard a lot about Gloria Chao’s debut, American Panda, and though I hadn’t read it I’m always excited to see new books from Chinese authors. Honestly, I was expecting a typical contemporary romance from Our Wayward Fate. What I got was an exploration of being the children of immigrants and reconnecting to your culture intertwined with the cute romance.  Continue reading “Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao | a powerful story about diaspora”

Crier’s War by Nina Varela | in which f/f enemies to lovers is what fuels me

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Crier’s War by Nina Varela

October 1, 2019 from HarperTeen
Young adult fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.

Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.

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4 stars

Crier’s War was one of my most anticipated books of the year. It took me a lot longer to get through than I’d hoped, but in the end, I ended up really enjoying it. Crier’s War is an ode to queer high fantasy, with memorable characters and a romance that you can’t help but root for.

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The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin | a fun terrible tudors high school au

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The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

January 29, 2019 from Inkyard Press
Young adult contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

What do a future ambassador, an overly ambitious Francophile, a hospital-volunteering Girl Scout, the new girl from Cleveland, the junior cheer captain, and the vice president of the debate club have in common? It sounds like the ridiculously long lead-up to an astoundingly absurd punchline, right? Except it’s not. Well, unless my life is the joke, which is kind of starting to look like a possibility given how beyond soap opera it’s been since I moved to Lancaster. But anyway, here’s your answer: we’ve all had the questionable privilege of going out with Lancaster High School’s de facto king. Otherwise known as my best friend. Otherwise known as the reason I’ve already helped steal a car, a jet ski, and one hundred spray-painted water bottles when it’s not even Christmas break yet. Otherwise known as Henry. Jersey number 8.

Meet Cleves. Girlfriend number four and the narrator of The Dead Queens Club, a young adult retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives. Cleves is the only girlfriend to come out of her relationship with Henry unscathed—but most breakups are messy, right? And sometimes tragic accidents happen…twice…

3 stars

The Tudors are my favourite English dynasty to read about. Everything from the outbreak of the War of the Roses through James I dynasty is just Juicy Gossip. It’s just fun, and Henry VIII is the most fun. The Dead Queens Club turns all the drama surrounding Henry VIII and the English Reformation into, essentially, a high school AU. It works surprisingly well. 

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

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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.

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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?

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

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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.

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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.

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The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco | blog tour & aesthetics

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The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

October 15, 2019, from HarperCollins
Epic fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

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4 stars

I’m very excited to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Rin Chupeco’s The Never Tilting World! Thanks so much to Shealea at Shut Up, Shealea for giving me the opportunity!

I knew I had to read The Never Tilting World when I read the synopsis. I’d read The Bone Witch and loved it, and the premise to this book just sounded on point. I was not disappointed. The Never Tilting World is definitely one of the most creative fantasies I’ve read in a long time, full of action and adventure.

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The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett | a historical romp through Europe

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The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

September 3, 2019
Young adult historical fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.

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3 stars

I’ve always enjoyed Jenn Bennett’s romance, something that surrpises me every time. So when I heard she was writing a historical fantasy, I was intrigued. I love history, I love secret societies and magical artifacts, so I was excited to get my hands on this book. A lot of The Lady Rogue felt like a rehash of her contemporary romance in a historical fantasy setting, but it was still on the whole enjoyable.

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