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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

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Read Women, Reviews

#NotYourPrincess

#Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women

by Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

To me this, this collection of poetry and prose is important. It gives voices to Indigenous women, tells their stories and empowers their sisters to embrace themselves and who they are. To me, this collection that contains experiences I haven’t felt myself and experiences I deal with as well into words. The poems and stories that did this was stories talking about how they weren’t raised with their heritage and have to learn it on their own or families that whitewashed themselves to hide who they are, much like my own family has. These pieces hit hard while reading them, leaving me wanting to tell my own story instead of biting it back in fear of ‘not fitting’ the expected mold.

To me, I found these pieces well done. However, about half way through this collection, the formatting sort of gave out on me. Sentences ran into other sentences, not ending but cut off suddenly. Some poems make use of different colored fonts while others have the same idea, but the formatting  made it repeat the sentence above when it wasn’t meant to. As it was, the white colored fonts can’t be seen well on kindles, leaving your eyes hurting trying to read it. A more common issue with ebooks on kindles is art work getting cut to pieces so it’s not a full images but small pieces. This was an issue through this arc as well. I felt like the formatting issues did effect my impression simply because half of the pieces I couldn’t understand because I had to try and repiece the pieces together again, leaving me a little frustrated. Hopefully, this can be fixed before this goes out into ebook formats.

Do I recommend this? Yes. Wait to get it in physical form or for the publishers say that formatting has been fixed for ebooks if you get it. I find it a really important read and one that touched my soul and my own experience of trying to find my way of my heritage and understand what that means for the woman I am, as a Metis, who’s family that has been rewritting who they are to hide this side. I feel like this book is important to both Indigenous women and women who want to better understand the struggle.

Rating: 4 stars

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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

A Book Based on Mythology: 

Serpentine (Serpentine, #1)

Rating: 3 stars

A First Book In A Series:

The Girl with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #1)

Rating: 5 stars

 

#ARCAugust Books:

The Tea Dragon Society

Rating: 5 stars

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Rating: 4 stars

33589940

Rating: 4 stars

Wicked Like a Wildfire (Hibiscus Daughter, #1)

Rating: 3 stars

My Rad Life: A Journal

Rating: 4 stars

The Girl with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #1)

Rating: 5 stars

What reading plans do you have for August? 

 

Reviews, Uncategorized

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

Read Women, Reviews

A not so Dreadful Tale

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The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

by Alexandra Bracken

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type. 

 

Remember how I said Middle Grade books win this year? Well, this book just proves this fact in Alexandra Bracken’s newest book that comes out this fall. It also happens to be my new favourite book by her, and I’ve read at least the first book of each of her series that are currently out. And here’s why: We follow the story of Prosper Redding, a bit of a sad kid who’s bullied at school and who has become distant to his once close twin sister. He doesn’t fit in with the rest of his family either. More so when he finds out his ancestor made a deal with a demon, who just happens to residing in Prosper currently. I don’t want to give much more away about it though. You’ll have to trust me that Prosper’s tale manages to become even more magical from there. Just take the warning in the first few pages of this book to heart, don’t trust a Redding. Or really anyone for that matter.

The writing in this book is just so much fun. To me, it was one of Bracken’s better crafted stories and it doesn’t get too boring, only a few moments that slowed down and left me crazy because I needed to know where the plot went past the filler section. As someone who loves witches and grew up on Harry Potter magic, this book had just the right amount of magic in it while bringing us a whole new ideas while feeling familiar. It also has the right amount of spookiness without being completely scary. I admit, I was creeped out a few times, so maybe not read this with younger readers just yet, but let them once they’re in middle school, in my personal opinion just to keep it on the safe side. As for the writing quality, it was good. Unlike in some of the past books I read from Bracken, there wasn’t as much unneeded moments in this book. There was a few that I wouldn’t mind not seeing, but most of them come with at least a small purpose behind it, which we do find out later. I think she finally found the right balance in my opinion.

Do I recommend this book? Yes. Highly. I’d seriously run to my store and preorder it now. If that isn’t an option yet, then wait for it to be, mark on all your calendars and whatever else until you can. It’s the perfect book for most ages and is perfect for fans of Hocus Pocus. It might be the only thing that ever comes as good and so purely Halloween as this movie.

Rating: 5 stars

Read Women, Reviews

The Upside of Adorable

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The Upside of Unrequited

by Becky Albertalli

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

 

I admit, I got accepted for this eARC ages ago. But with other hot releases I was also approved for this, this book got put on the back burner. And part of why was because I was sort of scared to read it. I had heard both good and bad about Becky’s first book. The comment about gay girls having it easier was a turn off. But Becky, the champ she is, came out and apologized for that comment and explained it wasn’t how she personally felt. For me, I was willing to give Becky’s books a chance and I kept seeing this one getting praises. So I jumped in with Unrequited. And I’m SO happy I finally did. Because I’m not kidding when I say this book is one of the sweetest stories I’ve read this year. I’m not a big romance person, but this book hit all the right notes for me.

The story follows Molly Peskin-Suso through her experiences of trying to find love and her twin sister’s determination for Molly to finally get her first kiss. Molly is chubby and full of anxiety. Basically, I related to her instantly because I’m pretty sure more than once when I was her age I had the same thoughts. Heck, I probably still do. Molly fears she’s not what boys look for, that no one would find someone big attractive. She meets Reid and slowly develops a crush on him while her sister is trying to set her up with Will, a friend of her sister’s girlfriend. Oh, did I mention most of the characters in this book are gay? Because let me tell you, as someone desperate for more gay characters in books, I loved this, even if Molly herself may not be.

This book was just magic to me. It was sweet and soft and it was just what I needed to remind that some romances are amazing. I loved reading a character like Molly who reminds me of myself a lot. She’s a sweet character who just wants love, which was me when I was younger. She’s nervous of what people will think of her and her anxiety doesn’t help. The anxiety in this book was done so well. I always fear that it’ll be made romantic like mental illness sadly has been in a lot of YA book, but this wasn’t the case. Unless you yourself don’t have anxiety, you might not know that Molly’s thoughts are caused by it. But as someone who suffers from it pretty badly, I saw it clear as day. I’m so happy it wasn’t the main focus of the book, but was done realistically.

Another aspect I loved was the relationship between Molly and Cassie as twins. I love sisters. And to me, having grown up with a sister the same age as me, I can say that the sense of a distance growing happens. This book expressed this experience well and beautifully. Sadly, sisters grow apart. They fight. But it doesn’t change that they’re sisters. They want each other to be happy and I found how Cassie was determined to set Molly up with someone as something familiar.

The writing was really good and though the story itself was simple, I loved it. For once I didn’t mind a love triangle that was sort of there. It didn’t feel like others. It was teenagers trying to find themselves and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s too heavy handed, but this wasn’t like that. I loved the sweet moments with Molly and Reid and how soft they were. Sometimes I need relationships with soft characters that are sweet and nerdy and just lovely. I loved the wedding of Molly’s moms and just the diversity of this book. It was done well. It felt like you could easily meet this family out in the world. To me, this book was just everything I needed for this moment. It was hard to put down and made me happy, left me sad, left me aching for the characters.

I highly recommend it. It might not be for everyone. I know some people didn’t like it or understand it. But it’s okay to admit this book wasn’t targeted for you as an audience. But if you want a story with really great characters that are gay, that come from a mixed raced family, a character with anxiety and characters that want love.

Rating: 4 stars 

Reviews

Magical Alphabet

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An Alphabet of Embers (The Machineries of Empire “Calendrical Rot”)

edited by Rose Lemberg

An Alphabet of Embers is an anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose. It lives in a place between darkness and sound, between roads and breaths, its pages taut with starlight; between its covers, words talk to each other, and have an occasional cup of tea.

 

This collection of stories were as the description calls it – magical. It was unique and left you feeling like you’ve never heard stories like it before. The stories come from a diverse cast of writers from around the world, giving you a diverse collection of stories and characters. One of my favourite stories had to do with an idea of genderfluidness, which I happen to be. This was the first story I ever read with a genderfluid set of characters and I honestly can’t get enough of it. I’ll probably end up holding that story close to me for that reason, and the fact it was so well written that it made me so happy for this progress.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to really critique short stories, more so ones that are relatively short, only a page or two, which a few were. For the most part, these stories were done in a way that was prose or lyrical. Which is something I always love. However, there were a few that felt like simply words thrown together to creative something, but I couldn’t seem to see the story in it. It’s possible that when I read it, my brain was too tired to comprehend what they were about or it just went over my head, but I struggled to find stories in them, which was really disappointing in comparison to the overall beautifully done stories that were stories that were actually stories. There were also a few stories that weren’t long enough in my opinion to actually make it a full story. I felt like the plot was just shortly brushed over and it didn’t have the same impact as some of the others.

However, I HIGHLY recommend this book for people who want sci-fi/fantasy stories created by a diverse cast of writers that touch on their own cultures.

Rating: 4 stars 

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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.

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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.

 

AsianLitBingo, Pride Month, Read Women

Noteworthy

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Noteworthy

by Riley Redgate

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.
In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

This book was the perfect read to go from Asian Heritage month to Pride month. The main character is first generation American and find out within this journey of this book that she’s bisexual.

I was in chorus for a good chunk of my early life. Like Jordan, I had a deep voice for a woman. I often sang tenor or alto 2. Like Jordan, it wasn’t a fan of my high school music teacher that kept trying to make me sing higher until my rang was somewhere in the middle but not as great. As you can imagine, that didn’t sit overly well with me when I had worked hard for my range. My love music sort of dried up by that time. So almost right away I related with Jordan’s situation. I admit this book did catch my interest a little, but due to my lack of interest in music drying up, it was only when I heard great reviews from others that I finally put in for this ARC and was approved rather quickly, to my joy.

I found the book really interesting. I think it did a good job with keeping the audience on their toes so that the first half of the book didn’t get boring despite the lack of action to the main plot. However, I did find most of the last part of the book predictable. I knew what relationship Jordan would end up with, how her identity would end up being revealed the way it was. If anything, I don’t believe in a real situation it would have taken so long. I’m really surprised that the teachers didn’t look into the kids trying out for the Sharps before they were let into the group to make sure they’re students at the school. For me, it was the smaller things within the story that was more unpredictable than the main plot lines. I found the rivalry between them and the Minuets was very unpredictable and could have been ugly if Jordan hinted about what she knew about their leader. I would have loved if she used the fact she was a girl that was beat up to throw said leader, but that was just my own opinion. It could have gotten ugly with her threatening to reveal that she knew that the leader was gay, but I think that the book did good by not doing this, which is harmful for any gay person, much more than being beat up. I know a lot of authors would have, I’m just happy that this author learned from her first book how to better write gay characters in a less harmful way. I would have loved for some sort of plot twist though that wasn’t so obvious to see coming.

The writing itself was pretty amazing. I found it really well done and almost lyrical in it’s own right. I didn’t find much to really critique because I was too busy highlighting some of the more beautiful phrases, the end of the book even more so than the rest. I loved the diverse cast of characters, how music could be found in the writing, and the friendship between the characters. The friendship in this book was probably my favourite part. I think it would have been even better without a relationship happening and just kept a good friendship mostly because it would have made this book stand out more than others. I’m still craving a book that chooses friendships over relationships, but alas this only gave me a little of it but added a relationship that I’m only so-so about. I’m also a bit so-so with her figuring out her sexuality but it not really mean anything. She could have not and nothing would have really changed the story. If anything, she could have bonded with the other gay character, but she doesn’t do that. It’s not a coming out story, or really anything with her being bi other than a small mention of it. I think it could have been used to help patch her relationship with her friend because she never lied about not being gay when she’s bi. Instead, she sort of just buries it too. To me, it just doesn’t make sense other than trying to put diversity into a story but not think anymore about it. It might be the only thing in the writing I don’t like, just because it feels sort of half done.

Do I recommend it? I do. I think that if you like music or don’t, there’s things about it that are good and great, some things that are a bit off, but it could have easily been fixed for the final version. This is just a reminder that this is an ARC. If they did fix it and you’ve read it, let me know and I’ll add a note about that. But all in all, I did enjoy this read. It was a really fun contemporary read.

Rating: 4 stars