Hello Fiction Dwellers!
Happy spooky month or traditional people would say Happy Halloween 🎃
The month of October passed by really fast. It felt like I blinked and boom! Now it’s November. A lot happened this month I am going to share to you all what I’ve been doing. For the first half of October I did a lot of reading. I managed to squeeze in a buddy read with one of my friends, Dija (@BooksToMyAss), we decided to read The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang. I’ve been avoiding the series long enough so I’m glad I finally did it with Dija and proved to myself that I still can get into adult fantasy. Though I feel sorry for being so slow that Dija had to wait for me but it was a fun experience nonetheless 😊.
Around the 20th of October my family and I went on a vacation to Bali 🏝️. We’ve been planning this trip since last year, because of Covid-19 it kept getting postponed so it was great to finally go. Though getting to Bali was a challenge. Indonesia’s ever changing travel protocols got my family scrambling at the last minute. In the end we didn’t get on a plane but instead my big brother, Sam, he drove for 14 hours straight while I sat shotgun staying up with him. Me and him didn’t sleep a wink so we were wasted when we got to Bali. We stayed there for 6 days and it was the best week of my life in a long time. Sadly, I lost my copy of The Song of Achilles there because of my carelessness. Anyway here are a couple of pictures from the trip ~ 📷
During this month I also participated in the #JadeLegacy Pre-Order Campaign, did a giveaway as well, and commissioned art of a chibi green bone Lia. It all happened in the first half of October looking back. I am very stoked that I managed to do all of that to hype up the release for Jade Legacy this November.
🎃 Congrats to Gauri from A Book and Chai who won the giveaway. Hopefully it will be sent to you soon <3
🎃 Thank you to the wonderful artist, Jemi / @aosoora on Twitter, for capturing perfectly the idea I have about green bone chibi me. I am in love with it and it is the cutest thing ever! Check out Jemi’s carrd (click here) for further information about commission or if you want to check out her other works.
Looking at the list of books I’ve read this month I’m surprised at the amount of novellas and short stories I decided to read this month. Being on vacation really preoccupied my time with hotel hopping, beach going, and general sitting around relaxing so I didn’t want to read anything long. Though earlier in the month I tackled two chonky books, The Blade Itself and The Dragon Republic, to get myself back on the adult fantasy bandwagon. With it also a scattering of short fantasy novellas that I ended up really enjoying such as : Nghi Vo’s The Singing Hills Cycle, Ryan Cahill’s The Fall, and Rob J. Hayes The Mortral Techniques series. But when there are hits there are also misses and this month there are two misses that left an impression on me.
👻The Century Blade – A Mortal Techniques Short Story by Rob J. Hayes
👻The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) by Nghi Vo
👻When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle #2) by Nghi Vo
👻The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie
👻The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R. F. Kuang
👻On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
👻The Fall (The Bound and the Broken #0.5) by Ryan Cahill
👻The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
👻The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1) by Neon Yang
❁ The Century Blade – A Mortal Techniques Short Story by Rob J. Hayes❁
Release Date : August 29th 2021
These days, we know the man only by the name he earned, and not the name he was given. These days, we know him only by the legend of the Century Blade.
Century Blade is the short story from the Mortal Techniques series by Rob J. Hayes. In this short story it is set during a time when the dragons are wrecking havoc across the land because of a misunderstanding between the King of Dragons, Orochi, and a human. Our protagonist is a hero that is tasked with the job to slay the dragons with the help of a his four other companions. Just like it’s title the story is about this rag tag team of heroes slaying dragons and how they became known as the legendary Century Blade. This is my first Rob J. Hayes book ever as I’ve never read anything from him before. But I’ve heard a lot of good things about his books so I wanted to give it a try after seeing this book is available for FREE on Amazon. The story is told in a retelling sort of manner which I found works for this kind of story. It feels like a prologue to an epic adventure that I’m very much looking forward to. I liked all of the characters and the backstories on how each of them got recruited. It is chaotic, witty, and I can’t wait to read more.
If you’re curious about Rob J. Hayes works and want to try reading some please start with this short story because it serves as a good sampler to his writing and introduction to his world in the Mortal Techniques series. The length is only 30 pages long, it is very easy to breeze through in one sitting. I highly recommend if you love warrior saga stories to read The Century Blade! Btw, there is a goat. I almost forgot about the goat.
❁ Never Die by Rob J. Hayes ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : September 19th 2019
Power comes at a price, and you were willing to pay it.
Never Die is an Asian inspired story as part of the Mortal Techniques series by Rob J. Hayes. This is the second work by Rob J. Hayes that I’ve picked up from the deal I got a month ago. Let it be real before I dive into my review that I love adventuring party stories and this is just that. BUT! What makes Never Die a stand out to me is that it is heavily inspired by Shinto mythology, Japanese folklore, and anime. I went into this book completely blind not knowing anything about it prior to reading. From the amazing done by Felix Ortiz, I could only guess that it’s a party adventuring story, what adventure? I didn’t know. Prior to Never Die I did read the short story that follows a different protagonist and his band of mish mash heroes but that’s a different story which I enjoyed. The short story introduced the series and Rob J. Hayes’ writing pretty well for me so I got excited going into Never Die.
“Sometimes peace is no more than oppression in disguise.”
The story follows Ein, a boy with a mission from the god of death or what is commonly known as Shinigami to kill The Emperor of Ten Kings of Hosa. The Emperor’s ambition of conquest and war has angered the very god that has given him the power to do so. In order to kill the Emperor, Ein needs allies that are skilled and equipped with legendary status that could help him succeed this impossible mission. Wandering the land with a needle, thread, and the ability to resurrect the dead Ein assembled a rag tag team of heroes : Itami Cho, Zhihao, Chen Lu, Bingwei Ma, and Roi Astara. In this quest oriented story Ein will recruit his heroes one by one through duels, a showdown of physical prowess, or just plain bargaining.
Rob J. Hayes writing comes through the explosive action scenes from duels with weapons, hand to hand combat, battles against yokais, a siege that escalated to full on military warfare. I loved every action scene that is graciously spread out through the story. Every scene is well done, vivid, gritty, and bloody in all it’s glory! It’s been a while since I’ve read a story with bloody and gory action scenes and Never Die gave me what I didn’t know I needed at that time. What made these action scenes all the more entertaining and intense is the abilities of our rag tag team of heroes. One of the scenes that I loved is seeing Zhihao bamf from place to place like a jumper with a magnificent weapon in hand slaying enemies left and right it is truly an experience. The action scenes during the last ~20-30% of the book solidified the story for me overall as it carried so much intensity and grit that I could not put it down. The only gripe I have is the pacing during the middle that fluctuates a lot but it didn’t hinder me from enjoying the story.
Tomorrow is just more of yesterday. I’m no one’s hero.
The world created by Rob J. Hayes is vivid, expansive, and well written. The many elements of East Asian culture and mythology is done wonderfully. Everything about the world is cinematic as our party of heroes travel across the world to kill the Emperor. Travelling stories like this really gives a chance for writers to show off how big their world are giving readers multiple settings and battle grounds that can immerse you fully into the story. Rob J. Hayes did just that. I loved every town, village, and even the roads that the heroes travel through which got me excited to see more of it in Rob J. Hayes’ other works. The characterization are done spectacularly as every character in Never Die is distinct, well fleshed out, and has good development. Though I’d say out of all the characters in the party Itami Cho and Zhihao has a more meaningful development that left an impression on me more than the other characters.
Honour can be lost a dozen times, and regained. Life can only be lost once, and never regained.
Final thoughts, Never Die is an exciting quest adventuring party story that is short and light hearted immersive and full of action packed explosive sequences that will leave you in awe dying to see it adapted into an anime. I highly recommend for readers who love anime, D&D, and travelling party stories to pick this book up! It is also a good book that’s perfect for readers that want to start reading adult fantasy as it is short, got good characterization, and accessible world building. Bonus points it is also a self pub!
❁ The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) by Nghi Vo ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : March 24th 2020
“Angry mothers raise daughters fierce enough to fight wolves.”
Enticing, tragic, beautiful . . . hands down the most beautiful novella I’ve read this year.
Empress of Salt and Fortune is the first book to The Singing Hills Cycle series by Nghi Vo. It is a novella with less than 100 pages that contained some of the best writing and beautiful prose I’ve ever read. The story follows Chih, a cleric of The Singing Hills abbey, and their companion neixin named Almost Brilliant, a bird with the ability to record everything and anything they witness. During their journey Chih decided to visit one of the many compounds that have been locked during the reign of the Empress. The place in question is a house named Thriving Fortune near Lake Scarlet, the compound is where the Empress spent most of her days during her exile. As a cleric of The Singing Hills abbey Chih is tempted to unearth the history and record all the treasures that is kept within the walls of the Thriving Fortune. Guiding Chih is Rabbit, a former servant to the late Empress, that has dedicated her whole life to the Empress and to preserving Thriving Fortune.
Honor is a light that brings trouble. Shadows are safer by far.
Nghi Vo’s writing is enticing, gripping, and beautiful. Vo’s prose transported me to the house near Lake Scarlet, to the halls of Thriving Fortune listening to the history that is left behind by Empress In-yo. The story telling within the story is done wonderfully through items that is catalogued by Chih. The items are described in detail to start of each chapter that is slowly compiled as the story progresses. Everything about the story captivated me in every sense, drawing me in with awe, and utterly beautiful writing. Though starting the story took a while to adjust myself but once I familiarized myself with Vo’s writing I flew through the pages. The three characters are all compelling bringing a whimsical tone into the story that pulled me in. Rabbit the story teller recounts her past with elegant sternness and melancholy that shook me to my core. Chih as the listener intently pays attention to every detail and by the end of the tale honors the valuable history that happened there.
“Sometimes the things we see do not make sense until many years have gone by. Sometimes it takes generations. We are taught to be content with that.”
Final thoughts, Empress of Salt and Fortune is my shortest, tantalizing, and delightful read. It is a novella that contained some of the best writing I’ve read this year and I am a sucker for beautiful proses. I highly recommend to anyone looking for something short to captivate and add something nuanced to your TBRs.
❁ When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle #2) by Nghi Vo ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : December 8th 2020
When you love a thing too much, it is a special kind of pain to show it to others and to see that it is lacking.
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain is the continuation of The Singing Hills Cycle series by Nghi Vo following the amazing first book The Empress of Salt and Fortune. In this sequel we follow cleric Chih as she prepares to go on a snowy trek with their guide. During the travel they found an attack which lead to them being cornered by a band of hungry tigers. This band of hungry tigers then gave Chih and her companion a chance by listening to a story and correcting the recorded history of a legendary story that even tigers know of.
Nghi Vo did it again! This novella succeeded in impressing me yet again with Vo’s exquisite writing and amazing prose that left me floored. It is stunning, atmospheric, and immersive with every page I read that I didn’t want it to end. Cleric Chih showed a new side to them in this sequel that made me love them even more. Their curiosity, quick thinking, and impulsive acts truly pulled me into their orbit. The side characters also left an impression on me from the guide, to the mammoth, and the band of tigers. But what I love about Nghi Vo is that they manage to contain a story within a story that is also as stunning as the main story. The story being told in this novella is equally as tragic, full of yearning, and longing but doesn’t carry the same weight as the first book for me. Personally, I am biased towards The Empress of Salt and Fortune but I still extend my highest praise for When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain as it is a well written and beautiful novella that everyone should definitely read.
“I am yours, and so I will be your light and your laughter. I am yours, so open your eyes to look at me, and open your mouth so that I may kiss it. I am yours, I am yours, and nevermore will I leave.”
Final thoughts, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain is a promising sequel to an amazing first book that have exceeded my expectations. Vo’s highly addicting prose, narrative, and absolute masterful skill in compacting an amazing story within these few pages is remarkable beyond belief. Let’s say Nghi Vo has found a new stan. For those who are looking for any short fantasy books to read that packs a punch with compelling characters I highly recommend this series for you to read.
❁ The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : May 6th 2006
Full review to come!
❁ The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R. F. Kuang ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : August 6th 2019
The Dragon Republic is a sequel that didn’t do it’s predecessor justice making this book the first sequel I’ve read this year that didn’t live up to it’s reputation.
❁ On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : 4th June 2019
Dear Ma, I am writing to reach you—even if each word I put down is one word further from where you are.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a beautifully written story about being an immigrant, addiction, death, and family. Sadly, it’s another ‘not for me’ read.
In this heart-rending story we follow the son of a Vietnamese immigrant with the nickname of Little Dog as he writes a letter to his mother. Little Dog writes all of his life experiences as a form of confessional to his mother, all of his memories shared with her and his grandmother, his dark desires, his secrets, pain, grief, and just every single thing about him. Present Little Dog is in New York studying, he writes this letter to tell his mother his story and to confront the complicated struggles in his life. Being a first generation immigrant in America after fleeing the Vietnam war Little Dog’s family arrive with new hopes and dreams for a better life. Little Dog’s family suffered a lot during the war and is still living with the scars of that harrowing time. Not knowing what happened Little Dog only knows the after math of a such traumatic events through the painful incidents experienced by his mother and grandmother.
Vuong weaved many themes within the story some of them are of family, migration, coming out, identity, mental health specifically PTSD, and addiction. There’s a lot of takeaway that readers can find within Little Dog’s stories. Vuong’s writing style is beautiful yet complex but easily digestible. I haven’t read a lot of literary fiction in my reading journey but I’m surprised how accessible this book is. It took me at least 3 sittings to finish it but I’m pretty sure anyone can read it through in one sitting. The gripe I have with Vuong’s writing is the endless metaphors that didn’t have a clear red string that connects everything. There isn’t enough balance of story and metaphor that by the last few chapters it started to lose it’s weight and meaning. Personally I am a fan of flowery writing but this book carried a lot of dense metaphors for one topic that was easy to get through but I had to do double takes to fully understand it’s beauty.
“No, madam,” I said to the woman in my ESL English. “That’s my mom. I came out her asshole and I love her very much. I am seven. Next year I will be eight. I’m doing fine. I feel good how about you? Merry Christmas Happy New Year.”
Final thoughts, this is a beautiful book that made me feel pleasant to finally finish. I am sad that it isn’t for me and I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that can appreciate Vuong’s book more than me. The complex way of writing the story made me feel lost in the sauce (in a bad way). I still recommend this book for people to read especially if you’re from an immigrant family or if you’re looking for a queer coming of age story that is full of depth with beautiful writing definitely pick this book up.
❁ The Fall (The Bound and the Broken #0.5) by Ryan Cahill ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository | Get the book for FREE here!
Release Date : July 2021
Recommended by : Petrik from Novel Notions / @PetrikReads (Twitter) / Petrik Leo (Youtube)
“All great things require sacrifice.”
The Fall is a modern take of a classic fantasy story of dragons, elves, magic, and a crumbling city that is FREE and packs a punch!
The Fall is the companion novella for Ryan Cahill’s self published The Bound and the Broken series. This book is recommended to me by my friend Petrik Reads when I was looking for something short to read. Before hand I’ve never read any book by Ryan Cahill but I’ve seen his books floating around the SFF book blogger community. Petrik did a great job at selling this book to me, he said “dragons, a siege, elves, free book” and I was sold. Based on the rating it is clear that I enjoyed everything about it! This novella is available for FREE on the authors website, all you need to do is sign up for their mailing list and you can download the book right away.
“Pain is the path to strength.”
The story is set 400 years before the events in Of Blood and Fire, which is the first book in The Bound and Broken series in the middle of a siege as we follow four different perspectives. In the City of Ilnaen everything is in chaos, blood and gore litter the streets as battle ensues at every corner. I will not talk about the characters because that will pretty much spoil the story. The only thing I will mention regarding characters is Ryan Cahill’s amazing characterization and ability to pack in a lot of noteworthy moments between characters that stunned me could be contained in this 95 page novella. The book starts off running and it keeps on running as the plot picks up as we follow different characters at different parts of the city from different backgrounds and stations. My favorite has got to be the second character POV that we follow. All I have to say he is the most glorious character that left a huge impression me.
The Fall is a classic fantasy story that is written in a more modern approach that I find fascinating and addictive. Though I have to admit after 30 pages I had to put it down because I got distracted by a different book I finished the last 65 pages in one sitting. Being set in a city there isn’t a need to do much world building but again Ryan Cahill still managed to condense the world and magic into this book which is impressive. Cahill’s prose is accessible, detailed, and magnetic. The battle scenes in this story is vivid, alluring, and explosive that I could not get enough of it. The emotional moments are also delivered with depth and carried a lot of weight that left me devastated.
“Vengeance. It was as good a reason as any. Vengeance could stir a rebellion, push people to do things beyond what they ever thought they could. But could it support an empire?”
Final thoughts, The Fall is the perfect novella with thoughtful and detailed world building compelling characters and all round well balance fantasy story that is short enough to peak your interest into Ryan Cahill’s epic fantasy series. I loved everything about this short novella and will very likely pick up Cahill’s full length novels to go back into the world of The Bound and the Broken. I highly recommend for readers who are fans of the classic fantasy stories with dragons, elves, demons, etc but want a more modern voice to pick this book up. For a D&D like me this book is perfect to fill my need of an epic with the classic fantasy tropes that I’ve long searched. Let’s just say I’m a new fan of Ryan Cahill and I’m looking forward to his other works.
❁ The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : March 16th 2021
Recommended by : Ikram – Co-Host of The Diversitea Book Club / @krammedshelf
❁ The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1) by Neon Yang ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : September 26th 2017
Full review to come!
❁ XOXO by Axie Oh ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : August 5th 2021
‘People who live for tomorrow should fear the people who live for today.’
XOXO is the cute and fluffy KPOP young adult contemporary romance that I am not a stan of.
XOXO is a young adult K-POP inspired contemporary romance story by Axie Oh. In this story we follow Jenny, a prodigy cellist from California that dreams to become a professional musician. After winning a music showcase she is mulling over the comments from the judges. Feeling down and looking to find the spark in her teenage life she challenged a random stranger at her uncle’s karaoke bar to a singing contest. Succeeding in defeating said stranger Jenny goes home to bump into the stranger. Alas they spend the night together at a local Korean food festival making memories and running away from confrontational college students. Sadly their night is cut short as the boy returns to his mysterious origins and Jenny back to her mundane life. Fast forward to the future Jenny and her mom moves to Seoul, the KPOP capital of the world, to visit her sick grandmother. Jenny then enrolls into one of Korea’s performing arts school which is also the school where mysterious boy from random night goes to. Dun dun dun! Surprise he’s also an idol? and the school president? What a small world….
Listen I picked this book up on a whim and out of genuine curiosity because lately it’s been all over my timeline on Twitter. I took the plunge and read it in a day. Before I dive into my review I would like to give a disclaimer that I will be as objective as possible and address that I know I am not in the age range that is marketed for this book which is why I have a lot of problems with it. I went into XOXO with an open mind and minimum expectations of a fun young adult romance story. Knowing my relationship with young adult books (especially contemporary books) I always set my expectations to the barest minimum. Let’s talk about the cover first. Something that I love about young adult books is the amazing covers and XOXO’s cover is very stunning. I’ve seen pictures of the naked hardback with the cover as well it is iconic. The artist that did the art for the cover is a Korean artist I’ve been following for years, Zipcy! If you don’t know who they are you should probably start following them on Instagram because their art is so beautiful and soft!
XOXO is a young adult story that is centered around the relationship between Jenny, the cellist prodigy from Los Angeles, and Jaewoo, the mysterious boy and 1/4 of the highly renown KPOP group XOXO. This book isn’t Axie Oh’s first book though it is her first contemporary book. The story is fun, fast paced, and cute. Yet there are certain things about the plot that I can’t overlook that bugged me throughout the story. The story lacked believability in certain aspects that I find over reaching and too over the top for my taste. The plot convenience that is repeatedly done to accelerate the story didn’t help either with me trying to overlook these aspects. It all comes down to Jenny not being given the chance to actually develop because of the constant easy exits she is given. As a character she did not grow at all in my eyes as she has done nothing that counts as character development. I seriously think she is god’s most favored child in this story because everything seems so easy for her and she is just thrusted into this rose tinted perfect world. It is not the main character vibes that is of my preferences to be honest.
I would’ve looked over all of this if the main couple’s, Jenny and Jaewoo, relationship is heart pounding, exciting, soft, and intimate. Yet it didn’t deliver that either. The relationship feels insta-lovey and very “cinta monyet” in Indonesian (translation : cheesy adolescent love). I think if I read this when I was in highschool I would go nuts for it but since I’m older I felt nothing but cringe. The side characters also didn’t get the chance to develop or shine either. There are loose ends to their arcs in the story that in my opinion has a lot of potential such as Nathaniel and Min Sori’s relationship.
You can’t aim to please everyone, you can only aim to please yourself.
Final thoughts, XOXO is fast paced, fluffy, and cute romance story that will surely help you day dream about your bias from your favorite KPOP group. I am sorry that I can’t love this book even though it does have promising aspects and interesting premise. Yet with it’s formulaic narrative that I have found in many works of fan fiction the execution lacked the depth and believability that left me disappointed. I definitely would like to warn future readers that have the same taste as me or have the same preferences as me to not read this book but if you’re feeling adventurous proceed with caution and zero expectations. For future readers that are younger than me or people that are interested in young adult contemporary this book is for you. I highly recommend you check it out!
❁ People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry ❁
Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date : May 11th 2021
Recommended by : Ness from Talk of Tales / @talkoftales
“ON VACATION, YOU can be anyone you want. Like a good book or an incredible outfit, being on vacation transports you into another version of yourself.”
People We Meet on Vacation is the vacation story that will take you on an emotional journey that gives a fresh new take to the classic best friends to lovers trope.
During the month of October I went on vacation with my family and this book is one of the selective few I picked to bring with me. Sadly, I did not get to it because my brain was resting the whole time not wanting to process anything more than 100 pages. But I finally picked this book up on the last day of October as a last minute addition to my October reads.
Before I get into my review I would like to tell you about my relationship with Emily Henry. I’ve read Henry’s previous work, Beach Read, it is one of the most popular romance books in 2020. Sadly, I didn’t like it as much as I like the cover. The story carried a lot of complex discussions about grief, parental loss, and the distorted image of a parental figure. Basically I got blind sided by the heavy topics and I ended up not liking it the story or the main character that much. When Emily Henry is releasing a new vacation adult romance book I wasn’t interested but a few trusted friends told me that it’s happier and got the vibes of my favorite movie “Love, Rosie” starring Lily Collins. So I gave it a chance and I even bought a copy of the book!
“Maybe things can always get better between people who want to do a good job loving each other. Maybe that’s all it takes.”
People We Meet on Vacation is Emily Henry’s second vacation themed adult contemporary romance following Poppy, a travel journalist/influencer living in NYC, and Alex, Poppy’s best friend from college and English teacher that lives in Poppy’s hometown. Poppy and Alex are opposites but somehow after their meeting during freshman orientation and the shared trip back home they squeezed into each other’s lives becoming fast best friends. That summer they planned a penny pinching trip together which lead to more trips in the future leading up to their late 20s but this trip is not the same. Something happened between the two in the years that they lost contact and they are now strangers. Sensing this is the trip that will make or break their relationship Poppy pulls out all the stops in hoping to rekindle their friendship and remind each other of the good ol’ times.
Emily Henry’s writing is accessible, clean, and well crisp. There is a genuine tone to it that I found wasn’t present in the previous book. Besides being on the more light hearted side Henry expertly built the intensity and emotion through the story adding layer by layer to the brim that will leave readers desperate and ready to combust. Long story short the slow burn romance ached, throbbed, and it hurt. The two main characters, Poppy and Alex, are well fleshed out and life like with believable development. Poppy’s arc in coming to terms with her confidence, burn out, and confrontation with the issues she’s been running away from all her life is believable and realistic. Though I would like to point out that Alex’s development isn’t as compelling as Poppy, he managed to grow to be a more trusting and open character that no longer accepts less than what he deserves.
Both of them grew together and figured out the painful truths that stood between them, breaking down walls and building a more stronger foundation as they accept the evolution of their relationship. I do have a little gripe with how the Henry’s wrote the final sequences that led to their eventual reconciliation and jump start to a new romantic relationship. It seemed too jarring for me as the whiplash of emotion that emanated from that scene was inconsistent to the already established relationship and emotion between the two main characters. The pay off of their road to reconciliation is good but it’s just that scene I wasn’t a big fan of. It didn’t make sense in my opinion and it happened so quick that I was reeling from trying to process it.
“Tomorrow we will love each other a little more, and the next day, and the next day. And even on those days when one or both of us is having a hard time, we’ll be here, where we are completely known, completely accepted, by the person whose every side we love wholeheartedly. I’m here with all the versions of him I’ve met over twelve years of vacations, and even if the point of life isn’t just being happy, right now, I am. Down to the bones.”
Final thoughts, People We Meet on Vacation is Emily Henry’s second work that will establish her as the new summer vacation romance pioneer. It is a fun short summer read that touches upon themes of trust, friendship, love, and the importance to chase happiness over convenience. The book also delivered the best friends to lovers trope that is filled with miss opportunities throughout the years of the relationship that developed satisfyingly and lovingly. To everyone that wants to read a light hearted slow burn this book is for you! Let this review be testament that I really enjoyed the story and I’m looking forward to Emily Henry’s future books.
To celebrate the release of the last book of The Green Bone Saga series, Jade Legacy, by Fonda Lee and for my own self indulgence, I made a playlist of songs on Spotify. This playlist covers chronologically all three books of the series : Jade City, Jade War, and Jade Legacy. There are about 100+ songs included in the playlist in various genres. But the majority of the songs are Korean Rap/Hip Hop and a few Chinese Rap. I tried my best to only include Asian artists into the playlist as I find that The Green Bone Saga takes inspiration from various Asian countries in their world building. I also included the Shang-Chi soundtrack just bcs when I watched that movie I kept thinking about Jade Legacy. For those who want to listen here’s the playlist <3
There is a certain order to listen to the playlist that I explained on the Twitter thread (below) for you to check out.
Disclaimer : This playlist is made based on my taste so it’s totally fine if you don’t like any of the artists or songs, but I hope you have fun listening 🙂
It’s been a while since I read or watched anything in these last few months. This month though it was the end of the donghua Mo Dao Zu Shi Season 3 or Mo Dao Zu Shi : Wan Jie Pian. Yeah, that’s the only donghua I’m committed to.
❁ The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation / Mó Dào Zǔ Shī [魔道祖师] by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù 墨香铜臭 ❁
Season 3 Airing Date : 7th August 2021 to 16th October 2021
English Translation Novel Release Date Vol 1 : 2nd December 2021 (by Seven Seas)
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | MyAnimeList
This year is the year I fell in love with MXTX books that includes Mó Dào Zǔ Shī. Since I started the donghua a few months ago I was patiently following each episode release of the third and final season. I savored each episode, making it my weekend routine to watch the episode maximum volume while I cry at everything Lan Zhan and Wei Ying does. In this final season the story covers a variety of arcs and finally reveals the person behind all the schemes that led to Wei Wuxian’s death and framing of the atrocities that happened throughout the years. With each episode together with Lan Zhan, Wei Ying uncovers the weird questionable incidents and unravels the truth one incident at a time.
There are many emotional moments in the donghua that got me reeling. The tragedy and suffering that the characters went through in silence or sometimes in solitude were the moments that made me love this series in the first place. Something about pain, yearning, and unyielding faith is the fundamental core of a MXTX story. Being one of the three famous series by MXTX with plentiful adaptations across all matter of media, Mó Dào Zǔ Shī have a variety of endings that differ from the books. I heard from friends that the live action drama didn’t stay true to the books because of censorship so I was curious how the donghua will end. I can confirm that it was done beautifully and it was so satisfying for me as fan. I haven’t read the books so I don’t if it’s accurate to the books but the donghua gave Lan Zhan and Wei Ying an ending in which they got their happily ever after.
In this season the donghua team did not hold back to pack in as many sweet and fluffy moments shared between Lan Zhan and Wei Ying. I screamed cried so many times watching this season. They also executed the moment in which Wei Ying finding out about the scars on Lan Zhan’s back perfectly. The tears I cried for Lan Zhan during that episode. Oh my god! Just thinking about it makes me wanna cry even more. The action scenes are all immaculate (obviously) as each character gets to shine and show their abilities, especially Wei Ying. The earlier episodes contained so many bad ass demonic cultivation moments that (again) made me cry.
Final thoughts, if you’re reading this you probably can tell how biased my opinion for this series is. I love Wangxian with all of my heart and this donghua is one of my most favorite adaptations of the story. The story and pacing is done wonderfully. The art and animation for everything is top notch. Everything is perfect! The music too! I highly recommend for those who want to watch a queer chinese fantasy series to watch Mó Dào Zǔ Shī. It will ruin you and scar your forever <3
This October I managed to write a few post this is due to the two blog tours I participated for two young adult fantasy releases, Jade Fire Gold by June C. L. Tan and The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker. Both blog tours are hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours. There are a couple of reviews I posted but one of them is a review of my most anticipated release this year, Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee. The post I did for the pre-order campaign promoting the book as part of #TeamHilo was also fun to write. My emotions were really on a high when I posted about The Green Bone Saga and I can’t wait for it’s release at the end of November.
Bookish Content Creator Shout Out!
☾ Maria from The Character Study posted a book recommendation list based on songs. I love listening to music and I love books so Maria’s post is the match made in heaven that combines two things I love in a blogpost. Definitely check out her post to find a new song or maybe a new book to read! <3
☾ Gauri from A Book and Chai posted a lengthy and wonderful spotlight post for 2022 Debuts. I’ve been very behind in keeping up with 2022 releases but no fear Gauri is here to inform us about 2022 debuts. Wanna know who’s debuting? CLICK CLICK THE LINK 😀
☾ Nessma from Talk of Tales posted her recent interview with Kylie Lee Baker author of The Keeper of Night. Bestie NESS. the professional author interviewer, posted her interview with Kylie Lee Baker a debut author in which the book I’ve read for a blog tour last month. It is an interesting interview touching topics relating to the book and inspiration that Kylie drew from it. If you’ve read The Keeper of Night you need to check out this interview! <3
☾ Veronica from Little Corner Reads posted her response to my Liebster Award nomination. Veronica gave interesting answers for the prompts I gave her 😂 Deciding a comfort character is pretty hard not gonna lie. If you’re curious about what I asked and Veronica’s answers please do check out her post!
☾ Kashvi from Kerch Books posted her review of Only A Monster by Vanessa Len set to release in 2022. An anticipated release and a book that’s on my November TBR! I love Kashvi’s review as they covered everything about the book which made me excited to read it! Check out their review if you wanna know about the Only A Monster!
☾ Cherelle from A Bolt out of the Book celebrated her 1st blogiversary as she reflects and express her gratitude towards the people in the community. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY BESTIE! Cherelle looks back on her year in blogging in the most eloquent and heart warming writing. Yes, she did mention me a bit so follow and check out Cherelle’s posts! <3
☾ Saima from Stories of Saima shares a list of Books That Terrified Her. In honor of spooky season Saima posted a list of scary books (that I’m probably too chicken to read) that I think everyone should check out 🙂
☾ Prutha from Moonchild Lexicons posted a list of book recommendations based on K-POP songs. ANOTHER POST about book recommendations based on SONGS but now it’s KPOP! The choice to pair Daechwita by AUGUST D with The Red Palace by June Hur only makes me want to read that book asap. To check out more songs and books check out Prutha’s post!!
☾ Isha from Paperbacktomes posted a discussion on paperbacks & its covers. This post is love letter to paperback lovers out there! YES! I, too, am a paperback lover! The versatility and their light weightiness, of course, their cheaper price is the reason why I will never deny them. Isha did a deep dive on types of paperbacks and design that I find very informative. Wanna know more? Check out Isha’s post <3
☾ Jon (@londonsonas on Twitter) posted his art of Kaul Hiloshudon from The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee.
☾ Anna (@vxctorvale on Twitter) posted their art of Serapio from Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse.
☾ Meri (@_merijae on Twitter/ @merijae_ on Instagram) posted their art of Lott Jinrhu and Kaul Lanshinwan from The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee.
☾ Sen, a close friend and artist recently read The Green Bone Saga so they shared their art inspired by the first book of the series, Jade City.
For the month of November I’m going to be quite ambitious since I am participating in #NetGalleyNovember. These are the ARCs that I’m planning on reading this month hopefully I can at least get 4-5 of them. To this pile I would also like to add a book that I recently acquired with the help of Petrik that was sent by the author themselves and that book is Of Blood And Fire by Ryan Cahill. I am determined to read this first book to The Bound and the Broken series since I loved the novella, The Fall, so much!
🎃 How was your October reading like ?
🎃 Any new releases that you loved or a new book you found that’s good? Please let me know! 🙂
Sorry to hear about the drive and your copy of TSOA but glad that you had a good vacation! We all need a good vacation around this time because we haven’t truly had one for two years. All the best with your November ARC goal! I am just.. going to ignore my ARCs for now haha. I’ll be happy if I read any 5 books this month.
Ashmita | thefictionaljournal
Ur wrap up is stunning lia! Just found your blog and I love it!! I can’t even imagine the amount of time it must have taken to craft this and all he graphics. Your artwork by asoora is super cute! And I am definitely going the check out the singing hills cycle! It sounds amazing. And xoxo was truly a fluffy read. Although it did lack a lot of things, me being a hardcore k-everything fan totally loved it. Thankx for sharing!!
Thank you Ash!! Wrap Ups take a while and the thing I dread is just the links but the rest is all fun hahahaha Its means a lot that you notice it! <3
IT IS! I am obsessed with it 😀 Highly recommend you check out The Singing Hills Cycle it's so DAMN good!
OH! I agree with you that it's fluffy and I do like the cover of XOXO tho hahaha
jeeya @ merakireadsbooks
those vacation pics look great, and Lia I always love your wrap-ups and am always in awe of how you write so many amazing reviews, they are just so *inarticulate hand gestures* wonderful
Ahh Thank you Jeeya <3 AWWWWWWWWWWw YOU'RE THE SWEETEST!! 🥺🥺 *big hugs*
I hope you know that your comment made my day <3 <3 Comments like yours rlly motivate me to make this post every month! <3 Thank you again!
Your Tita Kate
FOURTEEN HOURS. *SCREAMING*
But wow, the photos make the drive look so worth it!
YEPPP 😂😂 We didn’t have any other choice because everything is un-refundable LOL
100% worth it and the place wasn’t crowded either so my family could enjoy the scenery fully <3 My mediocre photography skills paid off yay!
Veronica @ Little Corner Reads
They’re all my comfort characters, okay?? 😂 Thanks for linking my post!
It looks like you had a great month! This was a fun wrap-up to read 🙂
Hahaha Love that for you bestie <3 You're welcome Veronica 😀 It's a pleasure featuring you!
Yeah probably my best month in 2021! Thank you so much you're the sweetest <3
Veronica @ Little Corner Reads
Amanda @ Bookish Brews
Wow those pictures from your trip look so wonderful!!! You did so much this month!!! 😍
AHHH Thank you for the kind comment Amanda <3 I'm no photographer but they came out pretty decent hahaha
Yeah my month was packed. How was your October ? Any good books ? 😀
Maria @ The Character Study
Thanks for including my post, Lia! It seems you had a pretty good reading month. I hope November goes just as well!
You’re welcome Maria! It’s a pleasure <3 Thank you! I hope you have a good November too 😀
Yay I finished the MDZS donghua too and the last episode gave me goosebumps and I just wanted to cry because it was over … but wangxian are so amazing and I love them with all my heart 😍😍😍😍
You planning to read the book too???
AHHH! Me too! Literal goosebumps every episode! I love everything about <3
YEAHH! I'm planning on reading it after TGCF hahaha hopefully I can finish that one by December 😀
Ohhh wow tgcf.. that somehow always intimidates me and I feel unprepared for the angst 😂😂 good luck to you though 👍👍
The angst is okay, I finished it last month and it wasn’t that bad since Jade Legacy and The Vanished Birds hit harder than TGCF but it still hurt 🙁
Let me know though if you do decide to pick it up 😀
I have been following your tgcf updates on Twitter and it’s been fun… let’s see.. maybe I’ll pick it up in the new year…
tasya @ the literary huntress
Great wrap up Lia! Everyone seems to be on Bali I was really feeling the wanderlust in October haha! I’m so happy that you enjoyed Black Tides of Heaven- looking forward to read your reviews and your thoughts on the rest of the series!
Have a great November!
Thank you Tasya <3 True! But when I was there it's mostly locals. The foreigners are mostly in Canggu and Ubud I think. It isn't as crowded as before and Kuta is basically dead 🙁
I hope my photos can help feed your wanderlust hahaha (tho the photos isn't that good lol)
YAY! I hope I can get to writing the reviews and I hope I can continue the Tensorate series hahaha Thank you again 😀
I hope you have a great November too 🙂
Your trip pics are beautiful.😍 I’m having The Green Bone Saga is high on my priority reading list this year. I want to finish it by 2021 badly. This was such lovely wrap-up. Hope you have a great month ahead and thanks for mentioning me!🤗
AHH thank you! <3 I have very mediocre photo skills hahaha you're so sweet! Hopefully you'll love that series as much as I do because it is my ABSOLUTE favorite 😀
You're welcome 🙂 It's a pleasure featuring your post fellow paperback lover !!
Lol, no. These photos are great😂. I’m starting Jade City this week and I’m excited to read it.
Kashvi @ Kerch Books
ahh omg lia i love this wrap-up!! my october reading was pretty good, i loved almost all the books i read 😭and OOOOO i do have a new book that i loved – little thieves by margaret owen. ALSO thank you so much for featuring me, i’m so glad you liked my review 💗💗
Ahh Thank you Kashvi <3 OHHH I'm glad you had a good October. Little Thieves!! I saw that book in bookstores here hahaha I'm gonna check out <3
You're welcome! It is a pleasure 🙂 <3