Book Review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Title: The Poppy War
Author: R.F. Kuang
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“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.” (Goodreads)

Edit: I have finished my reread and still enjoyed it just as much! Even though I knew there would be some harsh things to read about (CW: Rape/Gore/Violence) I didn’t realize how much it would still cause me to cringe.

I don’t usually read much adult fantasy because its hard for me to find ones that I actually enjoy. I have heard mixed reviews for this book but I went with my gut and went for it! It was the best decision because it blew my expectations out of the water and left me needing more.

Rin comes from a troubled past. She is an orphan of war, helps her foster family with their drug business, and now they want to marry her off. She is determined to not make that her fate and starts studying for a test that if she passes will lead her to a military academy. There, she meets some really interesting characters and gets swept away into war, hatred, and power not from this world.

Rin doesn’t want to be like the other girls in her village. She doesn’t want to marry and instead forges her own path. As she becomes a woman, there is talk of her menstruating and a lot of books are doing this which is great because it is a natural function of the body and makes the characters more relatable. Because of her menstruation she also makes a decision which has some consequences later down the road.

One of my favorite characters from this book was Jiang the master of lore at the military academy. He was a bit on the weird/crazy side and did drugs which at times made him hilarious. Although he added comedic relief at times, he was a very important character and tried to ground Rin when her emotions would get the best of her.

The plot was nothing I had imagined and at times I wondered why it was fantasy. There wasn’t much talk of the gods they used to worship or magic in general but as I kept reading it finally appeared and we are introduced to shamans. It was refreshing to see them as there aren’t many books with shamans that I have personally read. There is also political issues and even the social hierarchy were poor is deemed as bad. This book is filled with war and it doesn’t shy from the gruesome reality of it. A times it was hard to read about what the soldiers did to villages and cities but it is supposed to make you uncomfortable and realize that although this is fiction, things that can happen in the real world.

Overall, I loved this book. It is gripping and full of humor, loss, and the tragedies of war. Rin is a strong and emotional character and I can’t wait to see where her story leads in the next book.

E-Arc Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure

Earcreview2

36510404._SY475_Title: Mayhem
Author: Estelle Laure
Genre: YA Contemporary/Paranormal
Publication Date: July 14th, 2020

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

synopsis header
“Mayhem Brayburn and her mother are on the run, not away from home, but back to it: Santa Maria, California, a beach town that looks like paradise, like carnival rides and street food and bikinis under the hot sun.

It’s where Mayhem has always wanted to be. It’s where generations of Brayburns have lived and thrived, and she has never understood what made her mother leave Santa Maria in favor of the arms of her abusive stepfather.

But when she befriends her aunt’s foster kids and they take her to their hideout, decades of secrets unravel, and Mayhem is thrust into a world of chaotic magic, a serial killer’s mind, and finally, even the answers to her own past.

Set in 1987, MAYHEM is a mashup of The Lost Boys and The Craft with a bit of the Manson family thrown in for good measure. It’s original, compelling, and a little bit rock-’n’-roll, and reading it will leave you feeling deliciously wicked.” (Goodreads)

reviewheader
As someone who has watched The Lost Boys countless of times, I knew I needed to read this book. The movie and 80’s are super iconic and so the premise quickly drew me in. Unfortunately, there was too much that drew from the movie and it took away from my overall experience.

The beginning of the book draws you in with a letter written from one character to another. Other letters can be found throughout the book and I thought that was a nice touch. They make it easier to understand why the Brayburns are who they are and the secrets they keep.

As for the mashup of The Lost Boys/ The Craft, bit of Manson family, I can speak for two minus The Craft since I have never seen the movie.

I wouldn’t say that anything resembled the Manson Family. There is nothing in here that is really cult-like, at least I didn’t see it. I think that it is a stretch to put this in the premise.

I mentioned there being a lot from The Lost Boys and I will talk about that here. The setting definitely stands out and mirrors the setting in the movie quite a bit. A boardwalk with a vhs store, comic book store, rides, and even bonfire parties with a sexy sax man. There is mention of the iconic Frog brothers who’s family owns a comic shop that they work at. They wear a beret and headband. They also are obsessed with vampires. The only difference between them and their movie counterparts is that they are only mentioned twice and don’t actually do anything. I could talk about all the other references but there is a lot.

Even though it did draw a lot from The Lost Boys, the plot did steer from the movie and the author did try to create their own. The problem was that it was pretty slow and there wasn’t much action going on. For me, it didn’t actually start picking up until after the 50% mark. I also didn’t care for the romance that seemed to have been just thrown in.

Overall, the book was a bit of a letdown. It had it’s interesting moments but it just mirrored The Lost Boys too much for me to actually enjoy.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Book Collection: Aurora Rising & Aurora Burning

bookishtopics

Hello Readers!

One good thing about books (or bad thing, ha) is that there are now so many editions for books you enjoy. For me, I want to collect but I definitely have a limit on how much I’m willing to spend. Book collecting can get super expensive! I probably should have found a cheaper thing to collect. Oh well, we are here now. 🤷‍♀️😂

source

I had someone ask me to share my different covers for Aurora Burning by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. I am also going to include the two different books I have for the first book too.

border2

 

This is probably my favorite one out of the three. I just love the yellow! I’m not usually a big fan of the color but I think it really makes his eyes pop. This one came from Forbidden Planet and is signed by both authors.

I, of course, had to get the regular color because the orange is awesome and I bought this from a shop that was doing sprayed edges. They are just so beautiful! I purchased this one from Bookish_Signs on Etsy. This one came with a signed bookplate.

The blue one comes from Illumicrate. Since they did an edition for the first book last year (see below). I may like the blue more than the orange but honestly I just love them all! This one is signed by both authors.

The pink version came from Illumicrate. It came in their book box from last year, I believe it was May. I really enjoy the pink! This one is signed by both authors.

The purple one is new from this year. I bought it when I purchased the orange Aurora Burning from Bookish_Signs. I thought I might as well have the original cover for this one too. This one came with a signed bookplate.

border2So yeah, that’s my collection! I’m curious to see what the colors will be for the next book in the series and who will be on the cover.

Have you read these books yet? Do you plan to?

 

Blog Tour: Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer (Review)

k7JuqAVg

43720997Title: Frozen Beauty
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller Contemporary
Publication Date: March 17th, 2020

Thanks to the publisher for the free e-copy! (I received a copy for reviewing. All opinions are my own.)

*Click the banner for all other tour dates!*

synopsis header
“Everyone in Devil’s Lake knows the three golden Malloy sisters—but one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out….

No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.

But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.

Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living.” (Goodreads)

Amazon / B & N / Book Depository / Google / iTunes

gCtrFZpALexa Hillyer is the Founder and President of Publishing at Glasstown Entertainment, an all-woman creative development and production company located in New York and Los Angeles. She is also the author of Frozen Beauty,Spindle Fire, Winter Glass, and Proof of Forever, all young adult novels published by Harper Collins, as well as the poetry collection Acquainted with the Cold from Bona Fide Books. Acquainted with the Cold was the 2012 gold prize winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Award for Poetry and received the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize. Her work has been featured in a variety of journals and collections including Best New Poets 2012, and she has received several honors for poetry. Lexa earned her BA in English from Vassar College and her MFA in Poetry from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She worked as an editor at both Harper Collins and Penguin, before founding Glasstown Entertainment along with New York Times Bestselling author Lauren Oliver. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter and their very skinny orange tree.

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

bonuscontent
Prologue:

reviewheader

I absolutely love the cover for this one! The premise grabbed me and I liked that this book would  deal with sister bonds. As one who has three sisters, there is nothing like the bond we share. I was happy with how this book turned out.

The most unique part of this book was how the chapters were separated between past and present. I also liked that there were other things like diary pages from the youngest sister Lilly. Through the chapters there are also different point-of-views all told through third person.

Tessa is on a mission to set Boyd free and figure out what actually happened to her older sister on that fateful night. She is a strong and brave character for doing that. For me, it would be quite hard since you are still going through the grief. I don’t know how she managed to stay afloat. She definitely was closer to her older sister but there are such sweet moments between her and Lilly,  her youngest sister.

Lilly wasn’t too present in the present but her diary pages were a nice touch and added to the past. I don’t know if she missed her older sister as much as Tessa since it seemed like she got over it rather quickly but everyone grieves in their own way.

There are quite a few other characters that play into the mystery surrounding their sister’s death and honestly, I had a hard time figuring out who/why it all happened. The ending was not what I expected!

The author’s words and layout of the book really draw you into the mystery. It was hard to put it down and I ended up reading it in one day. There were just so many moving parts to it all!

Overall, it was a good read and I’ll definitely be checking out this author’s other books because I liked her writing style.

giveaway

Win a signed hardcopy of Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer! (US only)

Starts March 17th, 2020 and ends March 31st, 2020

Click here to enter giveaway!

border2

I hope you enjoyed my blog tour spot for Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer! Make sure to check out the other blogs as well!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving

Hello Lovely Readers!

I just want to wish everyone who lives in the United States a Happy Thanksgiving!

This will be my only post for the day as I will be busy preparing all the yummy food and spending the day with my husband and daughter.

Thank you all for following me and interacting with my posts. It means a lot and I am very thankful for each one of you. ❤

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful For (Blogging/Reading Edition)

Toptentuesday2

Hello, Lovely Bookworms!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s prompt is a thankful freebie so I am going to talk about what I am thankful for when it comes to my reading life and blogging life.

tenor.gif

border2

1.) Libraries

I am so thankful for libraries! It saves a lot of money when it comes to reading new authors or even new genres. It also keeps me from buying every single new release. I’m thankful that I have a few to choose from and that they also have their e-catalog for ebooks.

2.) Book Boxes

I am thankful that I am able to get the ones that I do. It makes it easier since I am in the US where most are located and I’ve seen the prices for other countries when it comes to shipping.

3.) Easy Access to Books

This also goes with libraries but I am also thankful for being able to have all sorts of different book stores and online sites. It’s easy to find a book I would like to read when my library doesn’t have it.

4.) Followers

Some days I wonder why I don’t have more followers but honestly that shouldn’t matter. I need to and am thankful for how my blog has grown over the past year and I love what I do so thank you! ❤

5.) Blog Tours

In the last month I have been able to get on a couple blog tours which will be my first ones! I am so thankful for the opportunity to do this!

border2

AltruisticGracefulDiscus-small

I’m literally so thankful for all of this and more! It’s great to be able to reflect back and see what I have to be grateful for that I don’t always appreciate enough.

What is something you are thankful for when it comes to your reading/blogging life?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

Brothers in Books

bookishtopics.png

Hello Readers!

I have been thinking about doing a post like this for awhile and today is the day I discuss it: brothers in books.

Who doesn’t like brothers in books? I mean, I can’t be the only one. They add a bit of drama and are usually quite different from one another.

There have been plenty of books I have read with them in it and I wanted to share my love for certain ones (and mangas!) with you!

border2

1.) Crown of Coral and Pearl

{5D439202-1EE1-4CCF-BC12-60EFD2116DC7}Img400

2.) Beneath the Haunting Sea

33803113

3.) My Dear Cold-Blooded King

35008226._SX318_

4.) Inuyasha

81164_1265353839948_272_399

5.) The Raven and the Dove

36505323._SY475_

6.) Caraval

27883214

border2

Are you a fan of brothers in books? If so, why do you love them? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

 

A Treason of Thorns: Book Review

Bookreview2

41716322Title: A Treason of Thorns
Author: Laura E. Weymouth
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: September 10th, 2019

synopsis header
“Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic always kept the countryside well. And as a child, this magic kept Violet happy, draping her in flowers while she slept, fashioning secret hiding places for her, and lighting fires on the coldest nights to keep her warm.

Everything shattered, though, when her father committed high treason trying to free Burleigh from the king’s oppressive control. He was killed, and Vi was forced into hiding.

When she’s given a chance to go back, she discovers Burleigh has run wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once enriched the surrounding countryside has turned dark and deadly, twisting lush blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock and destroying crops. Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain.

Vi would do anything to help, and soon she finds herself walking the same deadly path as her father all those years before. Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.” (Goodreads)

reviewheader
I hadn’t seen too many reviews for this book but the synopsis and the reviews I did see where enough to convince me to rent this one from my library. I don’t know if I had any expectations before starting and maybe that was a good thing. There were so unique things included and there were other parts that just fell short.

Right from the start we are introduced to Vi and her family. It is a strange dynamic and makes me question why her mother married her father in the first place. I understand her mother was trying to protect her daughter but at the same time she comes off as a total dillweed. Although her mother is never physically present, the reader learns more about her through flashbacks. The same goes for Vi’s father. He is only present for a bit until its all flashbacks for him as well. I did like the flashbacks and thought that they added to the characters that were present in them since there wasn’t much about the characters besides that.

As for Vi, she is a very determined girl and because her mother tried to keep her from being a caretaker she never talks to her. I understand wanting to save something you love but at the same time Vi is very selfish about her choices. She also holds grudges and I would have liked to see her writer her mother by the end or something. I wouldn’t say I ever connected with her and even though her choices were questionable, I didn’t mind reading about her.

There are quite a few minor characters in this one that I would have liked more from. Esperanza and Alfred are an interesting couple and I would have liked them to be more present since her father was the king and she also wanted to help the house. Besides trying to make up plans and maybe stalling the king, there wasn’t much development for her. I think it would have been nice to read a point-of-view from her because it would have helped and then there would have been more from the king as well. The reason I wanted more from the king is because in the plot, he is a villain. He really isn’t in the book much and I feel like as a villain he also wasn’t very villainous. It could just be me but I just needed more from him.

The only other character I haven’t discussed is Wyn. Vi’s father brought him to their house to be a companion for Vi during her childhood. Since they were friends for so long I though the blooming relationship between them was unnecessary especially since it doesn’t play a huge role. Friendship between them would have been just fine and I feel like it would have stayed the same book.

When it came to the plot, it was unique and I liked learning about the great houses. It did give me Monster House vibes and actually made me want to go watch that movie. My only complaint about the houses is that I wish there was more information as to how they came to be. I needed a background for why all of it was possible. Other than that, there was some interesting plot twists and it had a good pace.

Overall, I liked the book even with the issues I had with it. I guess the overall theme was that I needed more especially from the minor characters who had a lot of potential.

Top Ten Tuesday: Changes In My Reading Life

Toptentuesday2

Hello, Lovely Bookworms!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

I don’t think this one will be hard for me. I have made a lot of progress in my reading life since I started again last summer. So, let’s just go right into it!

giphy.gif

border2

1.) Trying New Genres

Last year I was pretty stuck in my ways and only stuck to YA, whether that was fantasy or contemporary. I really dove into YA  mystery/thriller this year as well as adult fiction. I have found a new love for Adult Fantasy and even Contemporary Romance. Who knew this would happen!

2.) No Monthly TBR

Last year and even at the beginning of this year I went by a monthly tbr. Honestly, it just overwhelmed me at times especially when I went off of it. I still felt obligated to try and finish everything on it. I am happy to say that I still try to prioritize arcs but other than that I am free!

3.) DNF

I used to hate to DNF. I didn’t like it and I would always push through no matter what. I think that this led to a lot of my reading slumps and so I have been dnfing and requesting less arcs. It’s really helped!

giphy-1.gif

border2

What is something that has changed in your reading life?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

 

 

Weekly Update (11/17/19)

weeklyupdate2

Hello Lovely Bookworms!

This week has been filled with more WebToon and honestly, just feeling tired. I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked but you know, sometimes we just have these weeks.

Hopefully I can finish up a few more arcs this week since I am back down to 5! I also was picked for my first blog tour and I am really excited about that!

Today, I plan on getting ready for the week and writing up some blog posts. All of my reviews are ready but I have to do the fun posts. I also need to take photos for my Instagram.

giphy.gif

border2

Blog Posts From This Week:

Books Finished This Week:

  • To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts Vol. 1 by Maybe
  • If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
  • Havenfall by Sara Holland
  • My Dear Cold-Blooded King by LifeLight
  • What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin
  • It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood

Currently Reading:

  • Sensational by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

border2

How was your week? Did you do anything fun over the weekend? Read anything good this week? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads