Adult Books, Diverse Books

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

This book was so good but omg it was so dark and one chapter in particular was really difficult to read, but I loved it!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

Before I share more I would recommend checking all the trigger warnings: racism, war crimes, genocide, abuse, animal death, animal cruelty, substance addiction and abuse, self harm, bullying, brutal torture, mutilation and murder, brutal rape (off screen but described), experimentation on people against their will, graphic descriptions of death of babies and children.

I listened to the audiobook which was really engaging and kept me hooked but also meant that, I could not skip some of the more graphic descriptions of some of the really dark themes. So please be aware of this before deciding to read or listen to the book.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” “You’re so young,” he said softly. “You have no idea.”

How do I describe this book? It left me in a reading slump because I just could not stop thinking about this book and that ending because OH MY GOD what was that ending?! The events in this book slowly got worse and worse and Rin’s spiral to wanting power was truly something to behold. This book is very dark and has lots of dark themes and doesn’t hold back from showing these in the book. But I really loved it.

The book begins with Rin, despite all odds, being accepted to study in the most prestigious school but she quickly finds that her being able to get in the school doesn’t mean she will be accepted by her peers. There is discussions of class divides where the rich continue to prosper at the expense of the poor and how their privilege and wealth gives them that extra boost to get ahead in life. I really loved seeing all that in the book.

War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who remains.

The story continues to Rin and her classmates being drafted in the war that has erupted around them and Rin must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for the power the gods are willing to give her. Despite being warned against it by her teacher she accepts that power. She is someone who was always told that she was lesser because she was a poor orphan so the power is very tempting to her. I really loved watching Rin grow and change and how the events of the book influence her decisions along with the people in her life.

This book is full of morally grey characters who often have to choose between two bad choices and deal with the consequences of their choices and actions. Terrible things happen throughout the book that not only affects the main cast of characters but also everyone else in the world and it was really interesting to read a story where there is no clear cut hero/villain because they all do terrible things. There was however a particular chapter that was incredibly difficult to read and I had to stop for a few days before continuing.

This book is action packed from the beginning and takes you on a wild ride. You can see the characters are spiraling and you can’t stop them but you also can’t look away. Just incredible storytelling and worldbuilding. I loved Rin and Altan and Jiang who had such interesting stories that were intertwined together. Altan has an especially tragic story and my heart broke for him. I loved seeing his and Rin’s relationship develop and change and they were both in difficult situations but I was really rooting for them.

“They were monsters!” Rin shrieked. “They were not human!” “Have you ever considered” he said slowly “that that was exactly what they thought of us?”

Kitay was the only voice of reason in Rin’s spiral and honestly I felt terrified for him throughout the story, he is a cinnamon roll and must be protected at all costs. I loved his friendship with Rin and how he supported her when no one else would and told her the truth and tried to make her see reason. I am terrified of what could happen to him in the next two books. I really didn’t like Nezha, he was a privileged spoiled brat used to getting his way and bullied Rin because she didn’t bow to his greatness like the rest but later as they got older and had to put aside their school feud they actually worked really well together and became tentative friends. I am interested to see where this relationship goes.

I am simultaneously excited and terrified to start The Dragon Republic because no matter how bad this book got I feel it can get worse and I am terrified for the lives of my faves. I would recommend this book to anyone who is okay with being able to read the book after checking the trigger warnings. There were some incredibly important poignant discussions of colonialism and genocide and what it means to have power.

Adult Books, Fiction Books

There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool – ARC Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw the cover of this book it instantly made me interested and when I read the synopsis I just knew I had to read it. This book was such an intense and thrilling read and I absolutely loved it!

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Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

THE AGE OF DARKNESS APPROACHES. FIVE LIVES STAND IN ITS WAY. WHO WILL STOP IT . . . OR UNLEASH IT?
For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations – until they disappeared, one hundred years ago.
But they left behind one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As a dark new power begins to make war on the magically gifted, five souls are set on a collision course that will determine the fate of their world:
A prince exiled from his kingdom
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up
One of them – or all of them – could break the world. Will they be saviour or destroyer?

This book had me hooked right from the beginning and I just could not put it down once I started reading. It had me captivated and I just needed to know what would happen next and how these characters lives would intersect.

We get five points of view but each one had their own distinct voice that it was easy to distinguish between them. This is a very character driven story yet there is still plenty of great plot with some crazy plot twists that left me reeling. I actually loved all the characters which is rare for me, but it just shows what a great job Katy did in bringing the characters to life.

Each of them have an important role to play in the 100 year old prophecy but we don’t know what that role will be but we do get a clearer picture by the end. It was interesting to see how their lives get tangled with each other and what events causes them to go in the direction they do.

Hassan is a cinnamon roll and must be protected at all costs. He is passionate and driven by trying to save his people and his family and his own battles with himself and learning to accept that even though he isn’t graced he is still capable of being a leader was so wonderful to see.

Ephyra is known as the pale hand and murders people who avoid justice by their powerful position and essentially sucks their essence to be able to keep her sister Beru alive. Their story is so tragic and I thought she was such a badass and a great morally grey character. Especially events at the end between the sisters has me really intrigued where their story will go.

Jude is our oblivious yet highly skilled leader who is desperately trying to avoid his feelings because he is supposed to remain celibate. I can already see that this will not work out well for him. And lastly we have Anton who is snarky and sarcastic and on the run from someone who he is terrified of. He has an important role in this prophecy especially once his lives intersect with Ephyra and Jude.

The ending leaves things open ended for all five of our characters and there are some crazy plot twists that left me reeling and I seriously need to know what will happen next!

Friday Favourites

Friday Favourites – Movie or TV Adaptations

This is hosted by Something of the Book who created this tag out of a love for lists. There are different topics for us all to be able to take part and you can find the prompts here.

There isn’t a specific number of favourites so it’s entirely up to you how many you share. You can share your most or least favourites too!

For this post I thought I would share books that I would love to see being made into a film or tv show and ones that I am looking forward to seeing that are already being made!

I am always nervous about seeing my favourite shows be adapted as it can go really well or horribly wrong! But if I didn’t need to worry about that then these are the ones I would love to see!

1 Red Rising – Can we please make this into a tv show already?! It could be so epic!

2 The City of Brass – As long as they cast Alizayd properly I would fangirl so hard if this was made into a tv show. PoC and Muslim characters in a fantasy world, on tv? It would be amazing!

3 Ayesha at Last – Pride and Prejudice with Muslim characters that I already need to see made into a film. I need all the witty banter and the second hand embarrassment!

4 This Savage Song – I adore this duology and it would be pretty cool to see this as a film or tv show

5 Illuminae – Another book that would make an epic show!

6 Percy Jackson – Lets just pretend that the films don’t exist and make a great tv show from these books instead.

These adaptations are already being produced and I am hoping that they do the books justice!

1 His Dark Materials – The film was…not great…but I have high hopes for the show being produced!

2 Grishaverse – I am hoping that as Leigh Bardugo herself is part of the team that this amazing universe will be treated with the justice it deserves!

3 Artemis Fowl – Disney have made this into a film and I’m quite nervous about it as just from the trailers I can see they’ve changed things. I just hope it’s a good film.

So there you have it! What books would you want made into tv shows or films?

Adult Books, Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Muslim Shelf Space, The Daevabad Trilogy

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty – ARC Review

The City of Brass was my favourite book last year and I read it multiple times, so I had high expectations for this book, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! I absolutely adored this book, it was as amazing as The City of Brass and now I will spend all year dying in anticipation for the final book in the trilogy.

As this is the second book in the trilogy there will be some spoilers from what has happened in The City of Brass. If you haven’t read the first book then you need to go read it! You can also find my review of The City of Brass here.

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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goddreads:

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.
Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family and one misstep will doom her tribe.
Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid-the unpredictable water spirits-have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.
And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

If you follow me on my social media then you know how much and how often I fangirl about the first book. I love everything about it, from the characters to the phenomenal world building to the insane plot twists! So I was really nervous about picking up The Kingdom of Copper as I didn’t want to be disappointed. But damn, this book is as amazing as the first and I know I’m going to be rereading both books again and again this year. I just can’t get enough!

Shannon’s writing is amazing and will keep you hooked, wanting to read just one more chapter until you end up staying up all night reading. I literally had to force myself to stop reading and go to bed and even though I actually read the book in January I am still thinking about it a month later. It is intense and so much happens right from the beginning. There’s plenty of political intrigue which I love seeing as it really built up the tension.

There are again lots of characters, including Ali’s mum, Hatset and Ali’s new friends. I loved them so much! I really enjoy seeing lots of different characters included in the story as you really get a feel of what it is like living in Daevabad from so many different perspectives. Every character is written so well, even characters we only see for a short period of time, they all have their own secrets, there’s double-crosses and ulterior motives and you can’t trust anyone!

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Of course, Ali is my favourite, he’s my cinnamon roll and I will protect him at all costs! He has to deal with his new abilities, thanks to the marid, and spending everyday looking over his shoulder because he was exiled and so as an ex-prince is constantly having to deal with assassins who would love to kill him for the Daevas. But because of his new abilities he has become a valuable member of the geziri tribe out in the desert because of his ability to find water so they protect him. I loved how passionate he is about trying to bring justice to the oppressed shafits but I wish he could learn to be more diplomatic. Shannon is out to destroy my heart with the amount of suffering she puts Alizayd through.

“Alizayd al Qahtani didn’t make it a month with his caravan.”

Let me tell you how much of a badass Nahri is, she has had to live in a very difficult situation, married to someone who she does not wish to be with and she can’t even leave the palace without being punished. Yet she still remains hopeful and does everything within her power to help her people and even try to change their minds about prejudices against the shafits. She decides to build a hospital and employ shafit healers with the help of Alizayd. And she has to battle the king to ensure this happens. She is smart and resourceful and resilient. And she doesn’t back down when the king tries to assert her power. Gahh! I love her so much!

“I need to put some men in their place”

Dara also had a few chapters from his point of view and well, I still don’t like him. Although it will be interesting to see what he does in the next book because of everything that happens at the end of this one. I am also looking forward to seeing more of Fatima, we did see more of her in this book and I really liked her in this. Much more than I did in The City of Brass.

Okay so I could go on forever about how much I love this book and this trilogy, so I’m just going to say that you all need to go read this book! And when you’ve read it, I shall be ready and waiting to fangirl with you!