/r/Fantasy 2018 Bingo Challenge – Final Card

This is my second year attempting the /r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge and my first year successfully competing it! I suffered the same problem as I did last year of going on a massive reading slump Spring Semester and forgetting that books in fact exist and I should probably be reading them, but unlike last year, there were enough books (and Chinese web novels) in my backlog that I could start just filling in boxes. Compared to my card during my Mid-Year Check-In, there were thankfully very few slots missing and some swapping and shuffling here and there managed to complete the squares.

You’ll notice that there are several slots that have changed between that video and now, thanks to my re-discovery of Hard Mode as I went to turn in my card. Hard Mode was a new featured added just this year to further challenge readers to find unique books to read, which I’d promptly ignored upon seeing it. However, I realized halfway through turning my card in that I’d somehow managed to mostly complete the Hard Mode challenges anyways. Being the box-checking-lover I am, I went back through my read list and changed a couple books around to bump that number just a little higher.

Some Stats

  • Female Authors – 14/25 – 64% | Male Authors – 9/25 – 36% | Gender Unknown – 2/25 – 8%
  • Hard Mode – 17/25 – 68%
  • Average Word Count – 111025.5
  • Average Page Count – 389.5
  • Books Published in 2018/2019 – 12/25 – 48%

The Card

bingo 2018-2019

Read More »

Advertisements

The Bird King by G Willow Wilson

40642333Publication Date: 12 March 2018
Publisher: Grove Press
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 440
Word Count: ~111,000
ISBN: 080212903X

Summary:

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker.

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

****

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

Firstly, I want to warn readers that the pacing for this book is incredibly slow. Despite this book following Fatima and Hassan’s escape from the sultan’s Palace and the Spanish Inquisition, this book felt more character driven than plot driven. It takes a little while for the plot to pick up and I was tempted early on to put this book down but I’m certainly glad I held through. To make up for the pacing, G. Willow Wilson’s prose is a delight to read. From Fatima’s sun-filled days as the Sultan’s only concubine to the visceral experience of eating a rabbit raw, Wilson’s writing style and language helps truly helps bring this book alive.

Read More »

The Tiger’s Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera

29760778

Publication Date: 3 October 207
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: eBook
Pages: 526
Word Count: ~155,000
ISBN: 0765392534

Summary:

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

*****

Review:

I went into this book expecting a grand epic fantasy with a historical Asian setting featuring two female leads who were hopefully lesbians. Instead, I got the gayest slow burn romance I’ve ever read with a side dish of demons, warfare, and political intrigue. Damn straight I liked this book just as much.

Read More »

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

39863238Publication Date: 26 March 2019
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 464
Word Count: ~130,00
ISBN: 1250186439

Summary: Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, an previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident–or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion–all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret–one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life–or rescue it from annihilation.

*****

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: 

Although it is New Years Eve 2018 as I write this review, I think I can confidently claim that A Memory Called Empire will be my favorite debut novel published in 2019. This book not only checked every box for me: unique and interesting worldbuilding, likable and complex characters, a plot that kept me on my toes, and a sapphic main couple, it also added a new box: dissing your political opponents through passive aggressive layered poetry.

Read More »

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin

18423Publication Date: 1969
Publisher: Ace Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 300
ISBN: 0441007317

Summary: A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change – their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

***

Review:

I read The Left Hand of Darkness as a buddy read with my friend Richard from RichardReads. This was a book that’s been on both of our TBRs for a fairly long time now, but personally, I don’t think it lived up to my expectations.

Read More »

T5W – Independent Ladies

T5W is a weekly book meme created by Lainey from Gingereadslainey and hosted by Sam from Thought On Tomes with a different bookish topic each week. You can check out the GoodReads group here.

Topic: Independent Ladies – favorite leading ladies who aren’t distracted from getting shit done by their love interest (they can still have a romance subplot – this is going to be subjective based on what you think would be ~too much~)

Enne Salta from Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

30238163

Ace of Shades was one of my favorite YA books from 2018 and a large part of that was because of how well written the main female lead was. Enne starts off naive to this world of fantasy Las Vegas in a search to find her missing mother. What I loved was seeing her development as she learns to navigate land manipulate this new world she’s been thrust in a feminine manner that I find somewhat rare in YA these days. She has her love interest Levi, but I really liked that she always put her own quests and goals before “getting the guy”.

Read More »

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

34966859Publication Date: 20 January 2019
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Format: Paperback, ARC
Pages: 304
ISBN: 136801335X

Summary: To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.

Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.

***

Review:

This is probably the most disappointing review I’ve written in a while and it really pains me to do so. Those who follow me will know how much I adore Lee’s other series, Ninefox Gambit, and his short story collection. When I saw the announcement that he’d be writing for part of Rick Riordan’s expanded mythology series, I was ecstatic. Percy Jackson was my childhood and I couldn’t wait to see how Lee would introduce middle schoolers to Korean Mythology like I had Greek. Unfortunately, this book fell short of the hype for me.

Read More »

T5W – Nostalgia Ships

T5W is a weekly book meme created by Lainey from Gingereadslainey and hosted by Sam from Thought On Tomes with a different bookish topic each week. You can check out the GoodReads group here.

Topic: Nostalgia Ships – Discuss the first fictional couples you ever got butterflies over, or couples you used to be really into when you were younger

Like several of my previous T5W posts, this is going to be almost exclusively manga/anime because I really have no recollection of having shippy moments with books as a kid.

Zoisite/Kunzite from Sailor Moon

32-22

Why yes, I do love shipping my murder-happy villains, even from the tender age of ten. I remember waking up early Sunday mornings so I could watch AMVs of this ship on YouTube. This was back in the era where fans still made their own dedicated web pages dedicated to their ship and hosted their own fanfiction. Mind you, I never watched the English dub of Sailor Moon, only the Japanese, so I shipped these two as a gay couple, not the one where Zoisite was turned female because 90s American family purity. It’s pretty indicative of how my life turned out.

Read More »

T5W – Hyped 2019 Releases You Don’t Care About

so this list could have been all the generic sounding beauty and the beast but this retellings (or just fairy tale retellings in general) but I tried it make it a little more creative

4 Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

40367270

i’m cheating a little with this one because I’ve already read it but all the advertising I see for it makes it seem like the NEXT BIG YA FANTASY and it’s just… not. Like seriously, it’s not. The characters are bland (though some are intentionally bland), the romance is contrived, and the worldbuilding was seriously just thrown together without any consideration towards logistics of how the damn country would actually function when you’ve got one tiny island producing food for an entire country without using electricity while the quadrant over is rocking maglevs and test tube babies. /endrant

Read More »

T5W – Top of Your TBR

T5W is a weekly book meme created by Lainey from Gingereadslainey and hosted by Sam from Thought On Tomes with a different bookish topic each week. You can check out the GoodReads group here.

Topic: The top books of your TBR!

Yes this is being posted on Friday and not Wednesday because I’ve been lazy and put off writing this

Vengeful by VE Schwab

40139338

this uh… this has been on my TBR for a really long time and I’ve been lazy. eventually, one day, I shall actually get around to reading it

Read More »