Folklore Book Tag

I admit I’m not the biggest Taylor Swift fan but I have absolutely been in love with her new album Folklore. I saw this booktag on Twitter through @PeiReads and I just had to do it. I’m guessing the original graphic was made for bookstagram, but I’ll be blogging it instead.

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To Sleep in a Sea of Stars (Partial ARC) by Christopher Paolini

48829708It was supposed to be a routine research mission on an uncolonized planet. But when xenobiologist Kira Navárez finds an alien relic beneath the surface of the world, the outcome transforms her forever and will alter the course of human history.

Her journey to discover the truth about the alien civilization will thrust her into the wonders and nightmares of first contact, epic space battles for the fate of humankind, and the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

***

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

Disclaimer: The ARC received is a partial ARC and not the full book, a little under 45K words. The full book is listed at ~800 pages, so I estimate this to be about 1/4 of the book.

Review:

Eragon is quite a beloved childhood series for me, and so to hear that Christopher Paolini is returning with a brand new book, and sci-fi nonetheless, I was extremely excited! While I’ve heard the criticism for Eragon, I read those books so long ago that I have no real recollection of the actual story. As such, I would like to say I went in neutrally optimistic. Unfortunately, even with that mindset, I was disappointed.

My personal taste in sci-fi leans towards explorative and new, ideally with an aggressive amount of techno-babble. I like seeing authors explore not only new worlds, creatures, and technologies, but new societal norms and bounds, new cultures. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars gave me none of that. If I had one word to describe this book, it would be ‘generic’. If you threw every popular trope in mainstream Sci-Fi right now (questionably evil capitalist corporation, generic American-modeled space society, technologically advanced hivemind alien species, etc) into a blender and pulsed for two minutes, you would get this book. There was never a point where I thought to myself, ‘what an interesting concept, that’s really cool’. Perhaps this is due to having read majority #OwnVoices and books that reach outside of the Western sphere for worldbuilding inspiration for the past year, but returning now just seems so… boring. Uninspired. Generic.

For all that I was not excited, I do have to give Paolini credit where credit is due. While I didn’t find it exciting, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is extremely well executed. The prose flows well and quite illustrative. The worldbuilding is extremely fleshed out and in this ARC alone (for as long as it is), you get a very clear idea of the different factions in this universe. Kira, our MC, is probably the best part of this book. A xenobiologist who’s part of a team staking out potential new planets for colonization, I really liked her strength in character and how much she acted towards her own goals. Kira goes through a lot of shit pretty early on and her resolve was extremely impressive. I say all this.. and then the first thing Paolini has her do when she gets isolated on a ship for a month is masturbate. :/ . So… mostly good, some bad.

Overall, I rate this book a 3/5. While the execution is excellent, I never found myself excited to keep reading. There was nothing new, nothing novel, that seemed to happen in this book. At best, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a well-executed bag of mainstream sci-fi tropes.


/r/Fantasy 2020 Bingo Squares:

  • Novel Featuring Exploration
  • Novel Published in 2020
  • Big Dumb Object (hard mode)

Publication Date: 15 September 202
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: eBook, partial ARC
Pages: 688
Word Count: ~45,000
ISBN: 1250762847

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

52379336The hunt is over. After fifteen years of lies and sacrifice, Baru Cormorant has the power to destroy the Imperial Republic of Falcrest that she pretends to serve. The secret society called the Cancrioth is real, and Baru is among them.

But the Cancrioth’s weapon cannot distinguish the guilty from the innocent. If it escapes quarantine, the ancient hemorrhagic plague called the Kettling will kill hundreds of millions…not just in Falcrest, but all across the world. History will end in a black bloodstain.

Is that justice? Is this really what Tain Hu hoped for when she sacrificed herself?

Baru’s enemies close in from all sides. Baru’s own mind teeters on the edge of madness or shattering revelation. Now she must choose between genocidal revenge and a far more difficult path—a conspiracy of judges, kings, spies and immortals, puppeteering the world’s riches and two great wars in a gambit for the ultimate prize.

If Baru had absolute power over the Imperial Republic, she could force Falcrest to abandon its colonies and make right its crimes.

Warning: 

While this review will not contain spoilers for Tyrant, this review is written with the assumption the reader has read Traitor and Monster, and as such, will contain spoilers for the previous books.

****

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher. A huge thank you to Tor Books for providing an ARC. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

The Masquerade series holds a place on my shelves as one of my all-time favorite fantasy series. As such, The Tyrant Baru Cormorant was my most anticipated book of 2020. While the book goes a different direction than I expected and I’m not fully satisfied with the ending, I still very much enjoyed it and believe fans of the series will too.

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July Wrap-Up | 2020

Writing and posting this wrap-up on time this month! I had a pretty solid reading month, including my binge of the House of the Dominion series. Man those books are powerful. It’s been a long time since I’ve stayed up til 3AM reading to finish a book in one sitting, let alone three. Review wise… not so great. I still blame my sudden move, new job, and very insistent boss. But I am back on track and with pleeeenty of books to review, as well as some super exciting book tours in the upcoming months!


Books Read:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – 4/5

  • Overall enjoyable, though I could have done without Nina/Mattias entirely. Locke Lamora has ruined heist novels for me

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard – 4.5/5

  • Way more gruesome than expected but overall fantastic. Loved the fallen angels and colonization commentary. I read this entire series in three days, one book per day

The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard – 5/5

  • Thuan and Asmo!! We get Thuan and Asmo! My favorite of the series

The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard – 4/5

  • Thuan and Asmo learn to be a semi-functional couple. Overall solid but the interest levels in different POVs was too different

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – 3/5

  • A better YA fae book than ACOTAR but still too high-school-y

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson – 4/5

  • My most anticipated book of 2020! Solid installment to the Masquerade series and people who didn’t like Monster will certainly be happy, but not my favorite of the series

Reviews Written

All reviews for July can be found in the links below

The City of Brass by SA Chakraborty


Other Posts

June Wrap-Up | 2020

  • super late. whoops accidental hiatus

June Wrap-Up | 2020

This is several weeks overdue and I sincerely sorry for that. In the past four weeks, I have a) been hired for a full-time position b) convinced my boss to let me stay at home for a week to dodge SoCal 4th of July tourists c) moved to SoCal the following week and d) am currently trying to get the hell out of SoCal since my job got moved to fully WFH anyways. It’s been a time. In the meantime, I’ve been reading like crazy, but kind of neglecting this blog, but since I’ve settled in (for the moment), it’s time I catch-up.Read More »

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

42815556Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

**

Review:

Up this week on Bad YA Books that Baited Me with Beautiful Covers, we’ve got Spin the Dawn. Advertised as an Asian-inspired cross between Project Runway and Mulan, I was left wanting on all three aspects.Read More »

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by HG Parry

51862863. sx318 sy475 A sweeping tale of revolution and wonder in a world not quite like our own, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a genre-defying story of magic, war, and the struggle for freedom in the early modern world.

It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for revolution in France to the weather mage Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalization of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas.

But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict. And it will require the combined efforts of revolutionaries, magicians, and abolitionists to unmask this hidden enemy before the whole world falls to darkness and chaos.

*****

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review:

From the first one, I was absolutely enthralled with this book. Historical Fantasy’s not my usual genre, but this one gripped me in a way few books do. Between the complexity and nuances of all the lead characters and the way the author was able to so seamlessly integrate magic into our own world, and account for how society reacts to magic, I absolutely fell in love.Read More »

Pride Month Book Recs

Happy Pride everyone! For this month, I wanted to give a list of some of my favorite books featuring LGBTQ+ characters and/or written by LGBTQ+ authors. For this list, I wanted to focus on representation, so books that happen to have a minor LGBTQ+ character or two or a background LGBTQ+ couple won’t make the cut! Not all books listed will treat their characters nicely, but I’ve made sure to mark warnings as I remember them where necessary.

As a member of the asexual community myself, I’ve struggled to find books with ace leads, so if anyone has recs, please fire away in the comments!

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Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murdersby Aliette de Bodard

53349060. sy475 Lunar New Year should be a time for familial reunions, ancestor worship, and consumption of an unhealthy amount of candied fruit.

But when dragon prince Thuan brings home his brooding and ruthless husband Asmodeus for the New Year, they find not interminable family gatherings, but a corpse outside their quarters. Asmodeus is thrilled by the murder investigation; Thuan, who gets dragged into the political plotting he’d sworn off when he left, is less enthusiastic.

It’ll take all of Asmodeus’s skill with knives, and all of Thuan’s diplomacy, to navigate this one—as well as the troubled waters of their own relationship….

*****

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

Review:

I have a new favorite power couple?? Seriously, this novella is a delight to read. Vietnamese-inspired worldbuilding and delicious court intrigue, all driven by a slightly dysfunctional, mostly wholesome power couple. Asmodeus and Thuan have a delightful chemistry together, and while it’s clear that the two could benefit from several rounds of couples counseling, it’s easy to see their devotion and loyalty to each other underneath their bickering. I loved the contrast between Asmodeus’ blunt ‘I’ll murder anyone who gets in my way’ attitude and Thuan’s softer, diplomatic approach, with a side of “Oh no, what did he do this time”. Muder/Diplomacy is just such a good pairing trope.Read More »

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

52378874. sx318 sy475 A fantasy novel of alternate 1880s London, where killers stalk the night and the ultimate power is naming.

This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.

***

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

Review:

It’s probably first important to point out: The Angel of the Crows first started as a Sherlock wingfic. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, wingfic is a fairly common sub-genre in the fanfiction community for stories where the characters are given wings. How/why they have wings is unspecified. They can be angels/devils/some other supernatural creature, humanity as a whole has evolutionarily evolved to have wings, they were the result of human experimentation, etc. In this world, there exists a society of angels, and our Sherlock character is one of them.

I point this out for two reasons. Firstly, because this only gets mentioned in the Author Notes after finishing the book, it helped me reframe and clarify some of the perceptions I already had. And secondly, because it amplified the disappointments I already had with the book.Read More »