Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee

Sebin, a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, wants nothing more than to join the Thousand World Space Forces and, like their Uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday. But when Sebin’s acceptance letter finally arrives, it’s accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently, the captain abandoned his duty to steal a magical artifact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero’s name and restore honour to the clan.

Nothing goes according to plan, however. As soon as Sebin arrives for orientation, they are met by a special investigator named Yi and his assistant, a girl named Min. Yi informs Sebin that they must immediately report to the ship Haetae and await further instructions. Sebin finds this highly unusual, but soon all protocol is forgotten when there’s an explosion on the ship, the crew is knocked out, and the communication system goes down. It’s up to Sebin, three other cadets, and Yi and Min to determine who is sabotaging the battlecruiser. When Sebin is suddenly accused of collaborating with the enemy, the cadet realizes that Min is the most dangerous foe of all…

*****

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

Review will contain minor spoilers for Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl

Review:

A tightly written military sci-fi middle-grade novel, that serves as a not-quite-sequel to Lee’s first foray into Middle Grade, Dragon Pearl (read my 3* review here). A year after Min’s adventure into Dragon Pearl, we meet Sebin, a young, non-binary tiger spirit whose life dream is to follow their uncle’s path into the Thousand World Space Force. However, after their uncle’s actions in Dragon Pearl, he’s been labeled a traitor and Sebin is determined to clear his name.

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Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore

In modern day Los Angeles, a shadowy faction led by the Governor of California develops the arcane art of combat linguistics, planting the seeds of a future totalitarian empire in Scotto Moore’s Battle of the Linguist Mages.

Isobel is the Queen of the medieval rave-themed VR game Sparkle Dungeon. Her prowess in the game makes her an ideal candidate to learn the secrets of “power morphemes”—unnaturally dense units of meaning that warp perception when skilfully pronounced.

But Isobel’s reputation makes her the target of a strange resistance movement led by spellcasting anarchists, who may be the only thing stopping the cabal from toppling California over the edge of a terrible transformation, with forty million lives at stake.

Time is short for Isobel to level up and choose a side—because the cabal has attracted much bigger and weirder enemies than the anarchist resistance, emerging from dark and vicious dimensions of reality and heading straight for planet Earth!

*****

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

Review:

I lost five hours of my life reading this book.

A quick disclaimer that this will be a very negative review. Most people on GR seemed to have a slightly better experience than me. There will also be light spoilers later, which will be marked.

With negative reviews, I like to start with something positive. Reader, I’ve pondered for days to come up with something I liked about this book. And I couldn’t think of a single goddamn thing. I suppose, if I’m being charitable, I could say I found the plot summary interesting. But really I picked this book up because a member of my blogging group chat is a linguist and I was in the mood to be a sadist. Oh how the tables turned.

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The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him.

By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished. 

*****

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

Review:

Publishing has been on an absolute role with gothic horror this year, and The Death of Jane Lawrence is just yet another incredible addition. Increasingly disturbing gothic medical horror, all the vibes of haunted mansions and medical practices, societies with secrets to hide, and a fascinating couple dynamic in Jane and Augustine.

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The Liar’s Knot by MA Carrick

Trust is the thread that binds us . . . and the rope that hangs us.

In Nadezra, peace is as tenuous as a single thread. The ruthless House Indestor has been destroyed, but darkness still weaves through the city’s filthy back alleys and jewel-bright gardens, seen by those who know where to look.

Derossi Vargo has always known. He has sacrificed more than anyone imagines to carve himself a position of power among the nobility, hiding a will of steel behind a velvet smile. He’ll be damned if he lets anyone threaten what he’s built.

Grey Serrado knows all too well. Bent under the yoke of too many burdens, he fights to protect the city’s most vulnerable. Sooner or later, that fight will demand more than he can give.

And Ren, daughter of no clan, knows best of all. Caught in a knot of lies, torn between her heritage and her aristocratic masquerade, she relies on her gift for reading pattern to survive. And it shows her the web of corruption that traps her city.

But all three have yet to discover just how far that web stretches. And in the end, it will take more than knives to cut themselves free…

*****

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

This book will contain spoilers for book 1, The Mask of Mirrors. Read my 5-star review here.

Review:

With the sheer delight that is The Mask of Mirrors, The Liar’s Knot very quickly rocketed to the top of my list of highly anticipated sequels. And man was I not disappointed. Liar’s Knot features all the complex political scheming and rich worldbuilding of book one, along with the return of our delightful main trio of Renata, Vargo, and Gray.

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Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

Shanghai is under siege in this captivating and searingly romantic sequel to These Violent Delights, which New York Times bestselling author Natasha Ngan calls “deliciously dark.”

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

*****

I received an ARC of this book through Turn the Page Book Tours and the publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books. All thoughts are my own.

This review will contain spoilers for Book 1, These Violent Delights. Read my review here.

Review:

I… think I’m devastated. These Violent Delights was one of my favorite reads of 2020 and probably my favorite YA novel, so I had such *such* high hopes for the sequel. Sadly, I found myself struggling and struggling to finish this book, until I finally sat down one day to sit down and just forced the last 70% down. As I’m going to spend most of the review talking about what I didn’t like and what I think went wrong, I will touch broadly on major plot points. So, for those looking to completely avoid spoilers, don’t read this review.

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Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee

Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same.

Battered by war and tragedy, the Kauls are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference. The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.

*****

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Orbit. All thoughts are my own.

This review will contain spoilers for book 1, Jade City, and book 2, Jade War.

Review:

I stand in sheer awe at Fonda Lee’s brilliant conclusion to The Green Bone Saga. The sheer scope of this book (almost 30 years), the depth of character growth in Hilo, Shae, Anden, and others, the breadth of international political and cultural events addressed. Lee somehow manages to assemble it all into an absolute masterpiece.

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The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart

The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor.  

 

Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the north-east of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force.  

 

Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. They claim they come in peace, and Lin will need their help in order to defeat the rebels and restore peace.  

 

But can she trust them?

*****

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Orbit. All thoughts are my own.

This review will contain spoilers for book 1, The Bone Shard Daughter. Read my 4* review here.

Review:

Another highly anticipated sequel, Bone Shard Emperor went well beyond my expectations. Between Lin’s character growth as she’s finally brought out of her sheltered world to govern her father’s empire, Jovis’s wavering loyalties between Lin and the Shardless Few, and the slowly unraveling mysteries of the Alanga, there’s so much in here to love.

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All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody, Christine Lynn Herman

The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins.

Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death.

The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted.

This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into worldwide spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly: a choice – accept their fate or rewrite their story.

But this is a story that must be penned in blood.

*****

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

Review:

For a book called All of Us Villains, I expected, well, villains. What I got was a book of insecure teenagers refusing to even entertain the idea of murder thrust into murder competition.

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Blog Tour: Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights, #2) by Chloe Gong | Character Art

Shanghai is under siege in this captivating and searingly romantic sequel to These Violent Delights, which New York Times bestselling author Natasha Ngan calls “deliciously dark.”

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

*****

Hello and welcome to my stop on the Turn The Pages blog tour for Chloe Gong’s Our Violent Ends! I adored These Violent Delights and I’m so excited to share my enthusiasm for these characters and this world through a set of character portraits. I’ve had this picture of Juliette and Roma stuck in my since I read book one. I’m so happy this tour gave me the push to finish them!

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Sinopticon 2021: A Celebration of Chinese Science Fiction, translated and edited by Xueting Christine Ni

This celebration of Chinese Science Fiction — thirteen stories, all translated for the first time into English — represents a unique exploration of the nation’s speculative fiction from the late 20th Century onwards, curated and translated by critically acclaimed writer and essayist Xueting Christine Ni.

From the renowned Jiang Bo’s ‘Starship: Library’ to Regina Kanyu Wang’s ‘The Tide of Moon City, and Anna Wu’s ‘Meisje met de Parel’, this is a collection for all fans of great fiction.

Award winners, bestsellers, screenwriters, playwrights, philosophers, university lecturers and computer programmers, these thirteen writers represent the breadth of Chinese SF, from new to old: Gu Shi, Han Song, Hao Jingfang, Nian Yu, Wang Jinkang, Zhao Haihong, Tang Fei, Ma Boyong, Anna Wu, A Que, Bao Shu, Regina Kanyu Wang and Jiang Bo.

*****

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

Review:

I’m always excited to see more Chinese literature make its way into Western canon and Sinopticon, a sci-fi short story collection from a whole host of Chinese authors curated by Xueting Christine Ni, makes an excellent addition. What I love about this collection that I’ve yet to encounter in single-author short story anthologies is the sheer breadth of story and topic. Chinese science fiction, or Kēhuàn, has tended to lean more into the hard science as this collection shows, but Ni has found some extremely interesting “softer” stories as well. Perhaps my favorite component of this collection is not actually the stories themselves (which are excellent) but the author bios Ni adds at the end of each short, briefly explaining the author’s background, their plethora of awards and recognitions, as well as the cultural ties of each story and why she picked that particular story in a collection representing Chinese science fiction to the West. For me, the absolute standout in this collection was ‘Flower of the Other Short’, by A Que: a surprisingly humorous post-apocalyptic zombie story about zombie sign language, deep philosophical discussions of art, and Brad Pitt. Other favorites included ‘Starship: Library’ by Jiang Bo, about an intergalactic librarian, her starfleet of books, and the nightmare of every zoning agent, and ‘Qiankun and Alex’ by Hao Jingfang, about an AI and a young boy who learn life lessons from each other. Overall, I rate this book a 4/5

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