Book Review: Iron Widow

“Men wants us so badly for our bodies, yet hate us so much for our minds.”

While the boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with the girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant robots that defeat the mecha ailens that lurk beyond the great wall where the girls dread it as they often die from mental strain. But, not all the girls dread pairing up with the boys, there is one girl who is more than ready to take on the challenge in an attempt to have her revenge on the man who killed her sister. When Zietan is chosen, she ends up getting more she’s bargained for as she is successful in killing the man who killed her sister but comes out of it unscathed thus dubbing her the iron widow. Now, she is set on understanding how the pilot system works in hopes of preventing more girls from being sacrificed.

This gave me pacific rim vibes as soon I read the summary on Goodreads and it did have that vibe while getting into the novel even though it started a little slow. But, I’ll get to that in a bit as I did enjoy the characters as they were all deeply flawed with good development to understand their motives even if I didn’t like the character. But, the big flaw that made me less invested in it was the lack of development with the magic system and world-building as there were times where I was confused and needed a little more information. I love good world-building and sadly this one didn’t have it and I do feel if the author had done more with the magic system then maybe I would’ve enjoyed it more than I did. The themes that are discussed throughout the novel are very relevant to what is happening now and I felt as though Zhao does a good job of connecting them to the plot. Overall, it was a good book even though I felt a little disappointed but feel free to check it out if it sounds enjoyable to you!

Book Review: Set On You

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Crystal Chen has spend the majority of her life proving people wrong and learning to embrace who she is without changing for anyone else. She has built up a incredible fitness career shattering stereotypes and promoting body positivity as a curvy fitness influencer. Reeling from a recent breakup, she is ready to prove thats he doesn’t need anyone than herself but things become complicated with a new man walks into her life, Scott Ritchie, a firefighter who is looking to get back into shape. The two are at odds at first but the more they get to know one another, the more sparks begin to fly leaving Crystal to wonder if second chances are worth it.

This was such a fun and super cute debut! First off, I’m glad that Crystal was plus sized because there isn’t enough rep in books especially romance. It was nice to see and Crystal won me over as I felt her personality and how she presented herself were endearing and empowering. She very much owned who she is and fully embraced that which is always very relevant as there are so many people who struggle with feeling secure and confident in who they are. I enjoyed reading about her journey of being a fitness influencer and how she and Scott first started out as enemies turned lovers. This is one of my favorite and it was really well done here. The romance was very believable and I was rooting for both of them throughout the entire book, they were so cute with each other! All in all, it was a great book to read!

Book Review: She WHo BECAME THE SUN

“However tired I am, however hard it is: I know I can keep going, because I’m alive.”

In 1345, China lives under harsh mongle rule and for the starving peasants of Central Plains, greatest is only found in stories.When the Choboga’s eight born son Zhu, is given a fate of greatness and while everyone is misfited by this fate, they aren’t surprised that his clever and capable sister is given a fate of nothingness. But, all that changes when tragedy hits and leaves the two siblings orphaned, it is Zhu who succumbed to despair and dies leaving his sister alone, afraid, and desperate to not die by the same fate. Propelled by her desire to survive, she will do whatever is necessary to stay alive no matter the cost to stay hidden from her fate.

I’m glad that I finally got around to reading this because I did really enjoy it even though it did have some flaws and issues regarding the pacing, writing, and too many characters so we’ll start with that. While I did enjoy how the story progressed, I had trouble with pacing and felt as though the story should’ve focused more on Zhu. It was hard to keep up at times because I had to backread and see if I had missed something when a new character was introduced. When there are so many characters in a book, it can be hard to stay invested because of the lack of development and can at times steer people away. The other stuff made up for it as I very much enjoyed Zhu’s character and how she progressed though the book. So even with the flaws, I did enjoy the book so if it sounds like something you’re interested in, please check it out for yourself!

BOok Review: The Girl WHO FELL BENEATH THE SEA

“Nothing extraordinary is ever done out of reason or logic, but because it’s the only way for your soul to breathe.”

Not only have deadly storms impacted Mina’s homeland but bloody wars have ravished their lands leaving them very few resources. Her people believe that they have been cursed by the Sea God who was one their protector and savior but now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, her people have sacrifced a beautiful young maiden every year in hopes of finding his true bride and letting her people rebuild their city. Many believe the bride is her brother Joon’s beloved Shim Cheong and on the night she is to be sacrificed, Joon follows even though he knows it is a death sentence. In an effort to save her brother, Mina jumps into the water only to find thrust into an adventure that she never expected as the Sea God is fast asleep and there are those who wish that he remain asleep. Mina knows she has to act fast as humans can’t survive in the land of spirits for very long and the longer she goes, the more time is running out.

This was such a good retelling and the cover is absolutely gorgeous! That was what actually reeled me in and I enjoyed how the story developed, the characters, plot and felt that the pacing worked well for this book. It was such a charming, fun, beautiful, and enchanting story that reminded me of Spirited Away in a good way. Although this marketed towards young adults, I still enjoyed the story felt that it worked best for this specific audience. What I loved most was the world building as it was beautifully written and made me feel as if I was actually there in the world along with the characters. While I enjoyed mostly everything, it did feel a bit predictable at times but I was able to overlook the flaws and still enjoy the story and how it developed.

BOOK review: The Map of Salt and Stars

“Stories are powerful, but gather too many of the words of others in your heart and they will drown out your own. Remember that.”

The Map of Salt and Stars tells the stories of Nour and Rawaya, two refugees who share similar paths even if years apart from one another. Having lost her father, Nour can’t imagine her life getting any worse but all that changes when her mother decides to move them from NYC to Syria so they can be closer to friends. But, the country that her mother once knew has changed and before they know it, they’re caught up in an ongoing war and soon their home is destroyed leaving them in a bind. They can either stay or flee with other refugees across parts of North Africa and the Middle East in search of safety. Nearly a thousand years earlier, Rawaya is a young sixteen year old who is running out of options to help her impoverished mother and while she doesn’t want to leave her mother, she knows it’s the only choice in order to give her a better life. Disguising herself as a boy, she eventually finds herself thrown into an epic journey across North African and the Middle East as an apprentice, for Al-Idrisi who has been commissioned by King Roger II of Italy to create a map of the world.

This is one of those stories where you may not want to read it but you need to read it as it was incredibly moving, powerful, heartbreaking while informative and educational. Not everyone will want to read this book simply because of the content discussed throughout the book as this is a very sensitive topic and one that can cause lots of discourse. The stories of Nour and Rawaya were moving, sad, and inspiring at the same time as the two both showed courage, resilience, and unwavering hope that kept them going even when they felt like they couldn’t. While reading this, it made me feel humbled that I have such privileges that I do and I will always have those and the struggles that I face seem so simple compared to what others face.

Along with this important content, The Map of Salt and Stars is also beautifully written so I highly recommend cheeking this out even if it’snot your usual genre because I think everyone needs to be more aware of this issue.

Book Review: Kamila KNows Best

“Shit. Was there supposed to be a Breakfast At Tiffany’s theme tonight?”

Kamila Hussain lives a life of comfort. She is the go friend for advice especially with love, has a supportive network full of friends and family that care for her, access to all the bollywood parties that she wants, and a dog with that has more followers on Instagram than most people do. While she spends more time giving her friends advice on love, she can’t be bothered to think of her own love life. But, when she hears of an old rival who has eyes for her longtime friend, Rohan who has been a rock for her throughout her life, she can’t bear losing him to someone else. The more Kamila tries to plan, the more things start falling apart and if Kamila doesn’t think of something quick, she may lose the one person who means the most to her.

I absolutely love Austen retellings as she’s one of my favorite authors so this book was a real treat! It was such a fun and heartwarming tale and I found all the characters especially Kamila and Rohan to be unique and flawed in their own ways. I could definitely feel the chemistry between them so that was good because there’s nothing worse than when it’s not developed or seems forced. Another thing that I liked is that even if there wasn’t a romance factor, the two were very unique on their own with interesting backstories and their dynamics were very fleshed out. I apprenticed the focus that Heron did on Kamila’s work life and how she felt so much pressure due to her culture and being the woman that she wanted to be. That is something that rang true for me so I felt for her and I appreciated that focus because I think there are times where authors focus too much on the romance and not enough on the heroine and it’s important that stories don’t put so much focus on the romance and being your own person in addition to be in a relationship. This was a very fun book so I highly recommend that you check it out!

Book Review: A Magic steeped in poison

“Grief has a taste, bitter and lingering, but so soft it sometimes disguises itself as sweetness.”

Nig couldn’t imagine things get any worse but unfortunately, they’re gonna get worse before they get better. Haunted and grief stricken over being responsible fro the death of her mother, an unfortunate accident that occurred with Nig brewing tea for her without knowing that it was poison. Now, her sister has succumbed to to the same tea and Nig must do something fast as time is running out. When she hears about an upcoming tournament held in the imperial city, she realizes this is the only chance to save her sister as the winner will receive a favor from the princess.

This was on such a fun book! The entire novel was full of surprises, twists, angst and heart warming moments that made it difficult to put down. But, one of the things that I absolutely loved about it was how their magic system was based on different types of tea, it was so beautifully done. I think Lin wrote is so well that you couldn’t help but be interested in this aspect and I’ve never seen that done before. I really hope this becomes a thing because as a tea lover, it was so fun to read about mixed in with different fantasy elements. The other parts of the book were fantastic and I really loved the dynamics between the characters and especially Nig as I felt for her during the journey as she was dealing with so many different emotions and haunted by the things she’d done. The only thing I didn’t like was the cliffhanger but at least its not one that will keep me up at night wondering what will come next. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it!

Book Review #1

“I think I might fetch you the moon if only to spare your tears again.”

To many, Alizeh is just a servant and a disposable one at that. But, what they don’t know is that she is really a heir to Jinn dynasty forced to hide in plain sight. She is also the one person no would especially Prince Karman would expect to uproot his kingdom and the world. The Crown Prince has heard of the prophecies foretelling his grandfather’s death but he can’t bring himself to believe that Alizeh, the servant girl who hasn’t left his mind to be the one to bring down his kingdom.

This Woven Kingdom by Tarereh Mafi was such a thrilling and wild ride from beginning to end! This is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I’m glad it lived up to the hype because it’s always so disappointing when books don’t live up to it but this was a real treat. There was so much about this novel that I loved as everything felt so connected as Mafi developed a beautifully written world that felt so real. The characters especially Alizeh and Karman were equally flawed and developed and their chemistry was so so good. The romance felt very real within their dynamics. That’s always a good thing because there’s nothing worse when the romance is under developed and/or feels forced because that just ruins it for me. I can’t stay invested in the story when I feel like it’s forced but gladly I feel that here. Even on their own, Alizeh and Karman were interesting characters as Alizeh proved that she is no mere servant girl and her actions felt genuine, honest, and true to how she presented herself as a compassionate and selfless warrior who was bad ass at the same time. Then, we have Karman who is very confident and bold and know what he truly wants in life and Mafi did such a great job with their dynamics that it was hard not to root for them.

Lastly, I really enjoyed how Mafi mixed Persian Mythology and Cinderella that made it so unique and interesting.It didn’t feel overdone and really helped with developing the romance between Karman and Alizeh. Overall, I really enjoyed the tale and how it unfolded so I would highly recommend it!!

MAY TBR

Well, it’s a few days behind but better late than never! Here is my list for this month and I’m excited to share my picks with you.

A Magic Stepped in Poison by Judy L. Lin
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, YA

A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, YA

Angelfall by Susan He
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, YA

The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner
Genre: Autobiography, Memoir, Not-Fiction,

Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea by Axie Oh
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, YA

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, LGBT

Kamila Knows Best by Faith Heron
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The Map Of Salt And Stars by Zeyn Jorkhadar
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical-Fiction

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker
Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, YA

Set On You by Amy Lee
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

She Who Became The Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, LGBT

Squad by Maggie Tokud-Hall
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novels, LGBT

Thief Of Souls by Brian Klingborg
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance

What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo
Genre: Memoir, Mental Health, Non Fiction