When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

Nghi Vo returns to the empire of Ahn and The Singing Hills Cycle in this mesmerizing, lush standalone follow-up to The Empress of Salt and Fortune

*****

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

Earlier this year, I was gifted a copy of Empress of Salt and Fortune, the author’s first book set in this Asian-inspired world, and I adored it. (Review here). Nghi Vo takes a unique method of telling a story, looking at perspectives not often examined. With The Tiger Came Down The Mountain, that same method is used as we follow the a tale of romance between two women, told from the perspective of two cultures.

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A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

****

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

Every time I request a YA book on NetGalley, I panic a little when I remember how hit and miss I am with the YA genre. When I do enjoy a YA novel however, I’m really loving it. A Curse of Roses absolutely falls under that ‘love it’ umbrella.

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November/December Anticipated Books

A quick list of my most hyped books for November and December! Some great stuff in these upcoming months. This was supposed to be posted last week oops, so some of these books are already out, but hey, better late than never.


November


10 November

Master of One by Jaida Jones, Danielle Bennet

Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He’s stolen into noble’s coffers, picked soldier’s pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he’s caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.

But Rags could never have guessed this “relic” would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there…

This sounds like The Cruel Prince, but make it gay. And I’m very very here for that

17 November

The Burning God by RF Kuang

After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. 

Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation. 

Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it? 

Okay so teeeeeeechnically I haven’t read book 2 yet but I’m still allowed to be hyped for book 3 right? Poppy War book 1 was just fantastic after all

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

AHHHHH THIS ONE!!!! My most hyped of November and I’m still super bummed I wasn’t able to get an ARC. But that’s okay! Because I’m writing this November 17 3AM EST so my library loan has shown up and I get to read this anyways! 1920s Shanghai Romeo and Juliette? Hell yeah!

24 November

Ruinsong by Julia Ember

Her voice was her prison…
Now it’s her weapon.

In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence has been forced to torture her country’s disgraced nobility at her ruthless queen’s bidding.

But when she is reunited with her childhood friend, a noblewoman with ties to the underground rebellion, she must finally make a choice: Take a stand to free their country from oppression, or follow in the queen’s footsteps and become a monster herself.

Phantom of the Opera but make it sapphic. I’m so down for this. No idea what else is happening but I don’t need to know more.


December


1 December

Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke

Poison was only the beginning…. The deadly siege of Silasta woke the ancient spirits, and now the city-state must find its place in this new world of magic. But people and politics are always treacherous, and it will take all of Jovan and Kalina’s skills as proofer and spy to save their country when witches and assassins turn their sights to domination.

\I adored Book 1, City of Lies, and I’m so excited to finally see book 2 is about to be published! Super excited to return to this world!

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…

I’ve already read the ARC for this one, but y’all it’s magical lesbians in fantasy-Portugal who conjure flowers and beat up assholes. One of the best YA novels I’ve read in 2020.

8 December

When The Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

\AHHHHHHH THIS ONE!!! Empress of Salt and Fortune was fantastic and I was so excited to see that we get to return to this world. I recieved an ARC for this one too and I’ve gotta say, you definitely won’t be disappointed.

The Wicker King by K Acrum

Jack once saved August’s life . . . now can August save him?

August is a misfit with a pyro streak and Jack is a golden boy on the varsity rugby team–but their intense friendship goes way back. Jack begins to see increasingly vivid hallucinations that take the form of an elaborate fantasy kingdom creeping into the edges of the real world. With their parents’ unreliable behavior, August decides to help Jack the way he always has–on his own. He accepts the visions as reality, even when Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy.

August and Jack alienate everyone around them as they struggle with their sanity, free falling into the surreal fantasy world that feels made for them. In the end, each one must choose his own truth.

*****

Review:

This one was picked up on a whim; shoutout to Para from To Other Worlds for letting me know it was one sale and Sara from The Fantasy Inn for acting as quality control. I fully admit I grabbed this one because someone in Discord told me it explored an extremely fucked-up, co-dependent relationship, which is something I find really fascinating. The microfiction tag threw me off, but honestly, I think the book was better for it.

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Magic Burns by Illona Andrews

Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

***

Review:

Full disclosure that I’ve already finished book 3 in the Katie Daniels series, Magic Strikes, and just begun the book 4, Magic Bleeds, as I write this review.

I’m pretty lukewarm on the first book of this series, but I’ve promised friends that I’d stick with it because, supposedly, the writing improves with each book and I do admittedly find the worldbuilding quite intriguing. Also I just realized I can get the first four books on audiobook through Libby and this series is a really quick read at 2.3x speed and very forgiving if I miss stuff. Magic Burns didn’t really improve my opinion of the series, but didn’t really tank it either.

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The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

*****

Review:

I have no words. This book was just. So. Cute. So fucking cute. In the year 2020, we don’t deserve a book this adorable, but nevertheless, here it is. Shoutout to my blogging discord because I would have never given this book a chance without their half the server’s squeeing but damn am I glad I did (even if it took my library a couple months to get the audiobook). Just, so good. So so good.

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Blog Chat with RF Kuang

I started A Cup of Cyanide in Summer 2018, only a couple months after The Poppy War was published and I was so excited to have gotten my hands ona copy after BookCon 2018. And yeah, I was blown away. It’s easy to say that reading that book completely changed my view on Western-published Fantasy. For me, this was the first time seeing Chinese diaspora voices finally being heard and celebrated. It’s success, to me, signaled a shift where I no longer had to rely only on translated Chinese novels for Chinese representation.

Within the past several years, I’ve been delighted to see a huge influx of Chinese voices within Western SFF publishing. Now, more than two years later, I’m so excited to get to take part in The Burning God Blog Tour. Here, we talk Chinese-Diaspora identities, opening up to hearing the stories of our families, balancing our identities against current politics, and grad school applications. Thank you so much to Rebecca for this opportunity!


After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. 

Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation. 

Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it? 

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Magic Bites by Illona Andrews

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic…

One moment magic dominates, and cars stall and guns fail. The next, technology takes over and the defensive spells no longer protect your house from monsters. Here skyscrapers topple under onslaught of magic; werebears and werehyenas prowl through the ruined streets; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds.

In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, she must choose to do nothing and remain safe or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy… 

*****

Review:

I’m not generally a big Urban Fantasy person, but at the insistence of what felt like half a discord channel, I picked up Magic Bites, the first book in the on-going Kate Daniels series. I’ve certainly heard of this series in passing before and I’ve definitely seen this author’s name in bookstores, but I admit I’ve never looked into the series. Having read it, I really can’t say I’m blown away.

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To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu

From Cixin Liu, the New York Times bestselling author of The Three-Body ProblemTo Hold Up the Sky is a breathtaking collection of imaginative science fiction.

Stories included are:

Contraction
Full Spectrum Barrage Jamming
The Village Teacher
Fire in the Earth
Time Migration
Ode to joy
Cloud of Poems
Mirror
Sea of Dreams
Cloud of Poems
The Thinker

*****

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

I’ve only read one other book by Liu Cixin, The Three Body Problem, but he’s quickly become one of my favorite sci-fi authors. As an engineer with strong background in academic research, Liu’s writing style match both my interested in in-depth science explanations and well written sci-fi quite nicely.

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