Book Review

Book Review: The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Adult Fantasy
Length: 672 pages
Author: R.F. Kuang
Publisher: Harper Voyage
Release Date: July 14th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Rin’s story continues in this acclaimed sequel to The Poppy War—an epic fantasy combining the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters.

The war is over.

The war has just begun.

Three times throughout its history, Nikan has fought for its survival in the bloody Poppy Wars. Though the third battle has just ended, shaman and warrior Rin cannot forget the atrocity she committed to save her people. Now she is on the run from her guilt, the opium addiction that holds her like a vice, and the murderous commands of the fiery Phoenix—the vengeful god who has blessed Rin with her fearsome power.

Though she does not want to live, she refuses to die until she avenges the traitorous Empress who betrayed Rin’s homeland to its enemies. Her only hope is to join forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who plots to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new republic.

But neither the Empress nor the Dragon Warlord are what they seem. The more Rin witnesses, the more she fears her love for Nikan will force her to use the Phoenix’s deadly power once more.

Because there is nothing Rin won’t sacrifice to save her country . . . and exact her vengeance.

WHO’S SIDE AM I ON?

This book got me FEELIN’ over that ending. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW. I have THOUGHTS and I need resolutions in the last book or we might be seeing a book throwing scenario. I can’t trust anything in this series and I hate [read: LOVE] that. By the time I’m feeling settled in one scene and its movement I am twisted around by the next chapter trying to find my footing again. The intense action and politics are continuing on and I can’t even begin to tell you which side I actually stand on.

Rin annoyed me on and off this go around. Many many decisions were made for her and I wish that she would have listened or been more open about those in her life. It did move the story along, but it did leave me wondering what hill our main character is going to stand on. I did however, enjoy seeing Rin develop a lot of relationships (platonic, and maybe something else?!?). That was a big part of this read and I think is going to play an even bigger role in the last book.

I love the audio version and how well everything is narrated. I am easily swept away by the story and it helped pass the slower middle area quicker by listening rather than physically reading this go around. I am anxious to get my hands on book three to see how this all ends. WHO SURVIVES.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult fantasy
  • Language: some strong throughout
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: rape, sexual assault, attempted assault and rape, extreme gore and violence; extreme blood and physical altercations; dismemberment, loss of loved ones, war scenes, racism, genocide, colonization, substance abuse and addiction, PTSD, suicide, self-harm, suicide ideation, forced medical examinations, animal death/torture

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Book Review

Book Review: The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time #3) by Robert Jordan

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 608 pages
Author: Robert Jordan
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: October 15th, 1991
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Dragon Reborn—the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the savior who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him—is on the run from his destiny.

Able to touch the One Power, but unable to control it, and with no one to teach him how—for no man has done it in three thousand years—Rand al’Thor knows only that he must face the Dark One. But how?

Winter has stopped the war—almost—yet men are dying, calling out for the Dragon. But where is he?

Perrin Aybara is in pursuit with Moiraine Sedai, her Warder Lan, and Loial the Ogier. Bedeviled by dreams, Perrin is grappling with another deadly problem—how is he to escape the loss of his own humanity?

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve are approaching Tar Valon, where Mat will be healed—if he lives until they arrive. But who will tell the Amyrlin their news—that the Black Ajah, long thought only a hideous rumor, is all too real? They cannot know that in Tar Valon far worse awaits…

Ahead, for all of them, in the Heart of the Stone, lies the next great test of the Dragon reborn.

BETTER.

I have been waiting for my mood reading self to want to pick this up since book two kind of let me down. But it’s okay! This was an improvement.

Right now my favorite character would have to be Perrin. I want alllll of the POV from him. I liked his story arc for this read and the addition of a potential love interest. Mat was also a bit POV this round and I still don’t know how to feel about him? He kind of sketches me out, like I’m expecting him to do something shady. Mat will keep you on your toes.

Egwene is still a favorite and I loved her progression too. I feel like most of this book was focused on character production rather than plot. There wasn’t enough movement, some more knowledge did come out of it all eventually. I kind of missed Rand’s whiny self and can’t wait to see what he’s up to next.

The audio is fantastic per usual and I am finally settling into the story. Remembering who characters are and the larger goal of this story. Can’t wait for the next one.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Violence: mild blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: kidnapping, physical and magical altercations, weapons violence

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Book Review

Book Review: The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 527 pages
Author: R.F. Kuang
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: April 23rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

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. 

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

I LOVED this book. I have seen the error of my ways holding off for so long on reading it. I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what happened next. The pacing and writing was beautiful and kept things moving and engaging. I am officially here for this series.

I’m not generally a fan of books that involve a school/academy/etc. This played it perfectly. There wasn’t a copious amount of time spent going to class and other mundane tasks that ultimately wouldn’t affect the plot. Each scene and conversation led into Rin’s life and her story as well as connecting to the over arching plot of the coming war. I loved the side characters and the rolls they played in developing Rin’s character as she grew over the years. The time covered in more/less five years never felt too long or short.

The action was intense and at times hard to read. It doesn’t shy away from the trauma of war (and that’s putting it lightly). This is a dark read and brimming with context on many levels. Definitely read the authors notes at the end about incorporating modern Chinese history into this series.

Fantasy wise, the world building and magic system were stellar. No big info dumps that leave you more confused rather than clear-headed. Slowly built within the story itself it was easy to follow. I love the ideas being used in how it works and based on the ending, can’t wait to see how it further expands. I’m fascinated by many things and will be getting my hands on book two soon!!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: some strong
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: war themes, drug use, substance addictions, self-harm, racism, misogyny, genocide, bullying, abandonment, abuse, animal death and cruelty, torture, killing, rape, mutilation, graphic depictions of child death, medical experimentation, colonization

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Book Review

Book Review: House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Fantasy Romance
Length: 805 pages
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: February 15th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it.

*FLAILS INCOHERENTLY*

Someone should have recorded me as I finished this book because the way I ran around my house flipping out was WILD.

BECAUSE THAT ENDING WAS EVERYTHING AND MORE.

Once again SJM has brought the house down with her captivating storytelling. I loved that there were even more points of view from this whole cast. I felt more connected to everyone and got a better feeling for their personal and group dynamics. I’m very much emotionally attached to them and the ships I want sailing and will not stand for anything less than HAPPY EVER AFTERS FOR ALL.

The plot thickens even more and my jaw hit the flow as things were unveiled. I love how the web is woven and die cast for all at play in the world. The combination of masteries it took to put this together blows my mind. Writing wise, it reads slower. Yet, it’s one of those novels that makes sense for the slowness. It’s heavily character driven and those stories need told.

I LOVE where many of these lines are heading and I will be impatiently awaiting the next book. I intentionally tried to keep this as vague as I could because people who spoil are the worst. Another SJM all the dang stars read for me!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy Romance
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: multiple (5+) open door
  • Violence: mild-strong blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: kidnapping, torture, creature attacks, physical altercations, gun violence, loss of loved ones, slavery, imprisonment

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