The Tiger’s Watch

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The Tiger’s Watch 

by Julia Ember

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.
Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.
When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

We follow Tashi, a young inhabitor as they flee from a sudden outbreak of war, leaving their country in ruins. But Tashi and their friend Pharo must hide so that they aren’t caught and found out what they are by the invading army, inhabitor’s possessing a magic that the other country desperately wants. So they hide in among monks as one of the commanders takes a post at that monastery, taking Tashi as a servant. Tashi risks themselves as a very reluctant spy in hopes of finding information that might find out information they can use against them.

Not my best little summary, I admit, but this book is all levels of complicated that I didn’t really stand a chance to describe it without giving away too much or leaving out important elements. I will say of the books I’ve read by Julia Ember, this has to be my favourite one so far. This book has roots in Asian culture and reminds me strangely of Avatar the Last Airbender. Though there’s no bending of elements, the magic in this book and the idea of those who posses it giving up their lives to keep a balance in the world reminds me hands down of Avatar. Fans of the show would probably enjoy this book.

Tashi as a main character is really interesting. Their genderfluid (which made this my first full novel I’ve read with someone genderfluid and I seriously freaked out). They are brave in their own way, but sensitive, which makes some characters look down on them. That doesn’t change the fact their strong. They just aren’t the normal pig headed, rush into danger type of protagonist. They’re one of the few that put themselves and the ones they love first, not just the greater good. They’re forced to make a hard choice, but one that will help some but possibly hurt more. And it’s something they grapple with in a thoughtful manner. If I was in their position, I honestly don’t know what I would have done. It’s also diverse and gives us an interesting cast of characters next to Tashi. Every character is complicated and has a story that is just as gripping and leaves you desperately wanting to know more.

The plot of this book is beautiful. There wasn’t a slow moment in the whole book. You know someone is wrapped up in a story that the sun sets and they don’t notice their reading in the dark until someone points it out to them. Which happened to me with the last half of the book. I was just completely wrapped up in this story. I honestly can’t wait for the second book and need to know what happens. I’ve read good books this year, but not one that wraps me up so completely as this book had without me feeling bored at least in one or two parts of it.

The writing itself was well done. I saw everything clearly in my mind and it was simply beautifully done. The only thing I had a small problem with was the fact a queer character died to advance the plot and the character of Tashi. I don’t know if it can be considered a ‘bury your gays’ situation because its complicated from the start because as soon as we start the book we know this character will die. All of the inhabitors know they will die young. It’s part of the balance I mentioned before.

The world building in this book is well done. The conflict itself is part of what reminds me of Avatar along with the use of magic. I honestly love how much thought went into each place and each of their cultures. It’s been a while since I read a fantasy novel that gives us a world so completely thought out like this. And that just adds to awesome quality of this book.

Do I recommend this? H*ck yes. Go get this book as soon as you can. If you love magic and the feeling that Avatar gave you, pick this up, enjoy it, and come gush with me because I need to gush about this book with you.

Rating: 5 stars

August Reading Challenges

So there are a BUNCH of awesome reading challenges this coming month. I’m going to be taking part in TWO. One is the #TheReadingQuest hosted by the blog ReadAtMidnight. Basically, this is one of the coolest reading challenges I’ve seen in ages.

Reading Quest Board

Like many RPG games out, you pick a class for a character and you follow their laid out path and those are the books you read first. I normally go Rogue, but for this one I’ve decided to start with Mage. Once you finish one class, you can start another one. You get so many points per square depending on what kind of book you read and so on. Basically, jump on this one. It’s so awesome and I can’t wait to start.

The Reading Quest Character Card Creator1

The second one is the ARC August reading challenge done by ReadSleepRepeat is to get through my rather huge list of ARCs that I’ve been trying to read for ages that’s continually getting bigger. With school starting this coming up this month (I have no idea when they don’t make the start date readily available. Ever), reviews might become a little less often. My hope is by dong this I’ll have a bunch read before hand and scheduled for you guys.

So this is what I’m doing this month.

#TheReadingQuest Books:

A Book With A One Word Title:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Rating: 4 stars

A Book That Contains Magic:

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Rating: 4 stars

#ARCAugust Books:

The Tea Dragon Society

Rating: 5 stars

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Rating: 4 stars

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Rating: 4 stars

Wicked Like a Wildfire (Hibiscus Daughter, #1)

Rating: 3 stars

What reading plans do you have for August? 

 

The Traitor’s Tunnel

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The Traitor’s Tunnel (A Trident Chronicles Novella)

by C.M. Spivey

Witch-blooded robber Bridget has made a reputation for herself in the capital city, but she’s not interested in the attention of the Thieves’ Guild–and she’s not bothered by the rumors of urchin kidnappings, either. With winter coming, she’s looking out for herself and no one else.
Until she picks the wrong pocket, and recognizes her estranged brother Teddy.
Young craftsman Theodor arrives in the capital ready to take the final step toward his dream career as Lord Engineer of Arido. His apprenticeship with a renowned city engineer comes with new rules and challenges, but it’s worth it for the exposure to the Imperial Council.

I was lucky enough to get this novella from the author a few months ago. But as you guys know, I sort of hit a wall when it came fantasy for a while, putting this book on the back burner, despite the fact I’d been dying to read it. Thanks to help of The Adventure Zone podcast, I found my fantasy love again and was finally able to pick this book up.

We follow both Bridget and Theodor through this novella, estranged siblings who meet once more when Teddy takes up his apprenticeship. The two of them plus both of their partners become entangled with a plot happening in the city that involves human trafficking, people like Bridget with no real home and who live on the streets.

I did enjoy this read. Unlike most fantasy books that insist on being old fashion and against things like LGBTQA+ rights, this book turns that idea on its head. The book is filled with diversity and tells a story accepting of everyone, which has been one of my issues with fantasy of late. Bridget has dated men and women, Theodor is asexual with a male partner, who choose to be male. Without knowing genders, the characters go to gender neutral pronouns, never assuming. All of which is a breath of fresh air.

As for the world itself, part of me wishes I had read ‘Under The Mountain’ first to better understand this world, but you don’t need to to read this novella. It’s able to stand on it’s own well and did cover the basics of this well thought out and well written world that makes you want more of it. That on it’s own makes me want to read the original series to learn more and grasp more. I loved the mixed of fantasy and witchcraft, all an original idea that isn’t like the typical witch books you see out.

I enjoyed this story. With it being a novella, I felt the plot was a bit rushed at the end, the whole time looking at how much I had left and wondering how it would pull it all off. I felt like it could have been a little smother, that it could have been a little longer to make it that way, but at the same time, I can see and understand why it wasn’t. I personally would love to see more of these characters and what happens next with their lives, but also knowing that the excitement they experiences probably wouldn’t happen again. The only thing I would change was maybe introduce the plot a little sooner in the story so it’s less rushed, but honestly, it didn’t bother me all that much because it felt like it was happening right.

I highly recommend this read if you want a quick read that involves a well rounded cast of characters that is diverse and a story that keeps you guessing.

Rating: 4 stars

Books with ALL THE BEST COVERS (part 6)

It’s been a while since I last did one of these series, but I hadn’t seen too many books lately that fit exactly what I was looking for in this. But FINALLY I have one.

As you know, I’ve read and reviewed Tash Hearts Tolstoy before it came out a bit a go and was a fan. Well, this book is back for this series. Now I loved the original cover. I’m a sucker for old images with writing on it like this.

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(English Cover)

(Brazilian Cover)

 

(Polish Cover)

Okay, so it’s only two other covers so far. But MAN. I love them. Which has me excited to see what others end up happening. They’re creative and fun and I think all of them fit the story and characters so. Another book to add to my list of books I want to buy all the covers for.

Personal

Normally, I don’t go personal on here. That’s what my twitter and tumblr are for. But I want you guys to know ahead of time about why this month I might not be posting as many reviews this month. I’ve already had one surgery and I’m having a second on the 22nd. Basically, I have a way too big kidney stone and too small holes for it to even think of moving. They put a stent in to open things up so this next one they’ll go back in and get it (hopefully) and a possible third to get out my stent.

All of this basically happened quickly that I had to cancel a planned trip to visit family in FL. I would have left yesterday, so that makes things a little worse.

If you want to help out at all, you can check out my Recovery Wish List which is basically just a bunch of cheap books that I’ve been dying to read. But with everything, I can’t buy them. But only if you can afford them too. I’d love to make a big post about each one with my thoughts when I’m better, though it probably won’t be my normal full reviews.

 

Yes, I love Reading Bingo Games

I’m kinda really bad at planning my reading lists ahead of time, but everyone else is, so I’m gonna try to as well. It’ll probably change. For now, I’m putting up which ones I KNOW I will be reading. I’ll be adding to this post when I figure out the other books for this challenge, so keep an eye on this!

Before you question this idea as just using diversity as a check box, the idea is to bring more discussion to authors of Asian heritage and the lack of them in this industry. I admit, even I’m struggling to find books for this challenge, which is the point of it.

 

Romance with PoC/Indigenous Love Interest:

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It’s Not Like It’s A Secret by Misa Sugiura

Translated Work by an Asian Author:

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Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida

 

For more details check it out here!

What’s ACTUALLY happening in Book Communities Right Now

So some of you might have heard, there’s been a lot of negative things happening in book communities from Goodreads, to Twitter, to Tumblr. As someone who’s actually been effected by it and seen people seriously hurt, I’m going to explain whats actually happening instead of people like Bookriot and Owlcrate who think they know whats happening and spreading false information.

This has been happening for a while, people attacking other bloggers who don’t agree with their opinions on certain books. I’ve seen PoC attacked and gone after for simply saying a book is racist for the fact they have ‘the dark skin savage’ trope. But it all got worse with one book, that book being The Black Witch.

Myself and a few other bloggers got this book to read and review. I mean, I was pumped. It was about witches, that’s my jam. But as soon as you open this book, you realize two things: One, it’s horribly written, and two, it’s full of issues and doesn’t actually call out these issues as bad, but simply says ‘oh, well, that’s how it is’. In a time where neo-Nazis are gaining strength again, this book comes out and it attacks anyone different. It was racist, it was homophobic, it was ableist, it attacked people with mental health issues, it sexist.

I put the book down because it made me sick. I posted a short review saying that I wasn’t comfortable with the book and what it was saying and also how I really found it badly written and unrealistic. Then a fellow blogger picked it up and she fought through the book to post all the issues. And it got so much worse than what I had read. The character supposedly gets a redemption arc, but at what cost? Anyone different reading that book would feel attacked. And someone did take their life because they called out this book and others like it and felt like they were alone, that there were no allies out there.

I updated my review to add the other issues and me and other people started calling out the book and warning people who might be a minority not to read it. All I wanted was an apology from the author and publishing company. But suddenly people were saying we wanted the book banned, that we were attacking an author and a book ‘without reading it’ (which some people did do, but they do have a right when it’s hurting so many people). They started posting reviews that called us out and had nothing to do with the book. People who stood up were attacked. They were harassed, sent death threats, called horrible things, were stalked, and worse. I got some hate for, people saying ‘well it’s a book’ as a reason why it’s okay, which it isn’t. Some people posted five star reviews just to counter act everything we’d done without reading it. They defined all these issues without reading it and said that it was right to have those things in that book, one directed at teens who are mostly like in those minorities.

But that hasn’t stopped authors from calling us horrible things, saying we don’t have a right. It hasn’t stopped book centered websites from saying that we’re not being fair or nice. People are still being attacked on twitter and I’ve watched people I’ve befriended crumbling over it.

I had to stop blogging for a while because it left me exhausted emotionally, it messed with my mental illness and left me hollow feeling. I still have times where I can’t hold my head up. We’re trying to simply make books for everyone, so that no one feels alone like that one blogger did again. People still go through the reviews until they find a bad one and attack the person for posting it without ever touching the book itself. It’s bad when the world has come to this, that it’s reflecting a horrible world that’s inside of a horrible book.