Sunday, June 11, 2017

Book: China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians, #2) by Kevin Kwan

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Blurb:
On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiancé willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it’s like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich. (via Goodreads)
One word: CRAZY. I knew even before reading this book and finishing the first one that I am signing up for some other-worldly crazy antics of these outrageously privileged people, but I still came out surprised. Color me slightly weirded out that I am still giving out 4s for books in this series knowing that I have this "slight" (what? the term is relative) aversion to shallow and selfish characters -- but you know what, I don't care. It keeps me entertained and I am not any bit sorry for it. Though I loved the first few chapters leading up to Rachel and Nick's eventual marriage (is this even a spoiler?), the couple took a back seat in this story. Instead, it centered on the opulence of the "china-rich" as they may call them. Of course, there is the over-the-top unnecessary drama - but the books in the Crazy Rich Asians series won't be complete without it. Hilarious (and annoying) characters were introduced and re-introduced. Plot lines were picked up. I loved Astrid's story line since Crazy Rich Asians, and this continued on to China Rich Girlfriend. I think I might even like her more than Rachel Chu. As with my comment in the previous book, I wish they made use of some of the more interesting characters - like Sophie Khoo, who mysteriously disappeared from the pages ever since his brother, Collin's, wedding. I found her to be quite the character and I wish she'll have some part in the next book.

Overall, this is a fun read if you need a quick pick-me-up. Heck, I just read it during my daily taxi ride to the client's office and I still finished it in a whim! I never knew I would get hooked to this. Maybe to compensate with the stressful life I've been leading these past few days? This is definitely a fine distraction and a hilarious way to pass time. Recommended!
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My Rating: ★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)
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Quotable Quotes:

Beauty fades, but wit will keep you on the invitation lists to all the most exclusive parties.
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This is the 24th book I've read this year and this has been part of my 2017 Reading Challenge#Bookworm2017

Sunday, June 4, 2017

#AsianLitBingo 2017 Wrap-Up Post

And just like that.... we managed to finish the #AsianLitBingo Reading Challenge. Sad I wasn't able to this in the link-up but who says I can't do a wrap-up? 😁


I've pledged to complete the third line in this board and I am so glad I did. As a recap, the following are the books I've read in this challenge (in no particular order), with the corresponding linked reviews:
  1. SFF with Asian MC: The Star Maiden by Roshani Chokshi*
  2. Contemporary with Asian MC: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
  3. Free Space: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
  4. Retelling with Asian MC: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
  5. Historical Fiction with Asian MC: Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
* The Star Maiden was actually a short story, a part of the Shimmer Zine, but I got it from the list of recommended items from the #AsianLitBingo master post so I guess this qualifies. :)

That was such a roller coaster ride. I participated from May 9 to May 31 and I barely made it -- see, I'm a veeeeery slow reader. Even I surprised myself by finishing this challenge. Besides from the unusual speed (for me, at least), it was also quite surprising that I liked it - I mean, the books I've read are not the usual book I was used to reading. Heck, I may even confess that, without this challenge, there is a high chance that I wouldn't turn my attention to these (maybe except #2 and 3, y'all know how much I love contemporaries). Well, guilty as charged. So it wouldn't be something new if I say that I felt like my reading roster got wider, more diverse, by finishing this reading challenge. 

If I have to pick my favorites and rank them, it would be like this: The Forbidden Wish came out on top, followed by Crazy Rich Asians. Always and Forever, Lara Jean, on the other hand, came in close third. Everything was unexpectedly good! This challenge aimed to raise awareness of books written with representation in mind -- and it totally did that to me. I would definitely add more of these kinds of books to my TBR. I mean, all the things I've read? Definitely recommended. And, oh, this challenge also helped me finish my 2017 Reading Challenge so early in the year -- so, it's all good! x
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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book: Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

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Blurb:
For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family. (via Goodreads)
I must admit that I am extremely biased when it comes to book covers. If it is, in any way, good, then there is a high chance that I'll read it. So I am not exaggerating when I say that the moment I saw Inside Out and Back Again's book cover, I immediately decided to read it -- that, and of course, the high rating on Goodreads. I chose this from the roster of book recommendation for the #AsianLitBingo Reading Challenge and I am so glad I did.

Told through the perspective of , this book is written on a verse-like style that is both breathtaking and easy to read. Thanhha Lai managed to capture that innocent voice of a 10-year old little girl that is both innocent and wise beyond her years. Set in the 1970s - when the Vietnam War broke - this book tells the story of a family displaced by war, the racism and discrimination they encountered when they moved to America, and how, slowly, resolve to adjusting and finally settling down to their new life.

I surprised myself with how fast I finished this - maybe it was the rush of the reading challenge deadline (5/31!) - so I think there were a couple of elements I overlooked. It was a rather short book, given the format, and one that targets younger audiences. Thanhha Lai disclosed that most part of this book is based on her actual experience - and I am really grateful that she decided to relive her formative years and share it through this book.  With increasing number of refugees around the world nowadays, this book can really give so much inspiration and hope for those who need it. There were many heartbreaking moments throughout the book, delivered in the most straightforward way in the perspective of Ha. Those moments, especially during the time when they started living in America, makes me cringe at how immigrants are being treated back in the days - like they are lesser creatures. I sure do hope that it wasn't the case now.

Overall, this read was worth it. I might reread this when I had the time because poignant children's books like this always has a way to reveal something new to you at every turn. Read away!
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My Rating: ★★★☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
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Quotable Quotes:

"I love her more for her scars."

"But I know at times, words are just words."

"Not the same but not bad at all."

"The more mistakes you make, the more you'll learn not to."
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This is the 23rd book I've read this year and this has been part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. This is also the 5th book I finished for my #AsianLitBingo Reading Challenge for Historical Fiction with Asian Main Character#Bookworm2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book: The Forbidden Wish (The Forbidden Wish, #1) by Jessica Khoury

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Blurb:
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world... When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.
But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?
As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury. (via Goodreads)

Jessica Khoury's The Forbidden Wish is a retelling of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp from the book of One Thousand and One Nights a.k.a. Arabian Nights - only this time, the jinni is a girl and she falls in love with HIM. Interesting, right? 

I can't really remember the last time I read a retelling so this was really a thrilling experience for me: the familiarity, the references. First few pages, few chapters, and this book already charmed my socks off! I initially picked this in the list of recommendations for the Asian Lit Bingo challenge and I didn't really expect to like this book so much -- but man am I so wrong. This book haunted me even at work (I am a slow reader so it was daysssss) and that left me distracted most of the time. But I am not even the least bit sorry. 

Jessica's writing was immaculate. I can't quite put my finger to it, but it was golden. The Forbidden Wish was written in the perspective of the jinni, Zahra. The voice that felt like having the wisdom of a thousand years and, at the same time, the uncertainty of venturing in unexplored territory, the panic and confusion of falling (romantically) in love for the first time. I honestly don't know how Jessica Khoury did it.
  
"Wishes have a way of twisting themselves, and there is nothing  more dangerous than getting your heart's desire. The question is, are you willing to gamble? How much are you willing to lose? What are you willing to risk everything for?"

Zahra and Aladdin are two lost souls - burdened by pasts they cannot escape, uncertain as to what they really want. The romance was spoiled by the blurb, but I got to shipping them not immediately after the first few pages. It took time - like the dance of Fahradan, it was tension-filled, passionate, a slow-burn. And did I already mention the tension?! For some reason, I am captivated and drawn to this world because the tension in the scenes are through the roofs! Maybe I was just reading the right things at the right moments but the goosebumps it induced in me was amazing.  

But you know what? It feels too wrong to be calling it just another romance YA because there's so much going on in here. For starters, there's Princess Caspida and her Watchmaidens. Roshana the Wise, the greatest Amulen Queen to ever live. This book presented some issues that, even now, are still rampant throughout Asia and, to some extent, outside. That women are not fit to lead. That women need someone, others, to make it and be successful. That women's choices are not entirely her own. This retelling broke many barriers and is very feminist in it's own special way. Zahra is fierce, independent, willing to go to great heights for the ones she loves. Caspida was a destined leader, a queen in her own right. Roshana was a dreamer and a visionary. Even Caspida's Watchmaiden's refuses to take a shit from others. It was great, great.

"Our names are like the meaning behind names, sensations and images rather than words, communicated by thought and not voice."

One unique thing that really caught my attention was how the jinns were named in this book. It was something I haven't encountered before and it proved to be a charming aspect for the book. Like for example, Zahra's jinn name is: Curl-of-the-Tiger's-Tail, Smoke-on-the-Wind, Girl-Who-Gives-the-Stars-Away. There's also Serpent-Scale, Water-Drips-in-Darkness, Echoes in Cave. Zhian's is Sun-Burns-Bright, Scale-of-the-Red-Dragon, He-Who-Makes-the-Earth-to-Shake.  Can't you see how beautiful this thing is? "I am the Girl-Who-Gives-the-Stars-Away." Awesome.
"Wish for her love, and I will deliver it for you."He smiles grimly. "Then it wouldn't be love.""And what do you know of love?""That it must be a choice.""Oh, my naive thief." I pause briefly to meet his gaze. "Love is rarely a choice."
Despite it being a retelling, the plot felt fresh and not forced. The story line was heartwarming and at the same time goosebumps-inducing. I loved the way Zahra narrated the story, telling it to her Habiba. I loved the word, and how it was used in the ending. The story of friendship so dear was highlighted and a sight to behold - making that unexpected reunion near the end of the story heartwarming and heartwrenching-ly good. I loved how the element of time ("Time is the strongest magic.") was used and how it gave the revelation at the end more impact. The ending was majestic and one of the better closures I've read in a while. Personally, I am at awe. Definitely recommended.
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My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

If you follow me on Twitter, here's my The Forbidden Wish Reaction/Quotes Thread: CLICK HERE.
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Quotable Quotes:

Stories are truth told through lies.

"Being underestimated isn't flattering - but it's an advantage."

You can't choose what happens to you, but you can choose who you become because of it.

"...nothing - nothing - is worth betraying someone you love."

"Loving someone is never wrong. [...] it's not a choice. It just happens, and we're all helpless in it's power."

"If you're not free to love, you're not free at all."
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This is the 22nd book I've read this year and this has been part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. This is also the 4th book I finished for my #AsianLitBingo Reading Challenge for Retelling with Asian Main Character#Bookworm2017



Book: Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1) by Kevin Kwan

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Blurb:
When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers. (via Goodreads)

Few days after I finished reading this, one thought runs over and over on my mind: this is a book (series) I never knew I needed. I've had this book in my shelf for a while now but for some reason, I always always put it off - but now, I know that I've been blindly walking over a gold mine all this time. This book is delicious, light, over-the-top, funny and on-all-marks entertaining. This book was a sleeper hit for me, in a sense that I initially dismissed it as another chick lit that I'm just gonna read for the heck of it -- but then pages and pages after, I was hooked! (I even changed my rating from 3 to 4 after a week!) It was fun AND relatable. I am not crazy rich but being an Asian myself, some of the elements really hit home. The importance of family, class, the speed to which gossip travels among the clan (LOL), unrealistic expectations on children, the sub-class societal expectations for women (psssshhhhh!), the sad prejudices for single parents, and gaaaahd, the parading of wealth I can only glimpse following entertainment blogs and news. This was a crazy good ride.

The book introduced too many characters at once that made it a bit confusing at first. The sudden shift in POVs inside a chapter also presented a challenge and needed some getting used to. There were so many things that were left hanging at that ending. Maybe because it has a sequel (thank God it's already available) but I just wished Kevin Kwan milked out some of it more. There are so many things you can close and work with there that can give this a more decent ending without missing the "wanting" element for a sequel.

But you know what? Despite the obvious flaws, it still achieved what so very few chick lits failed to give me - it kept me wanting, it kept me entertained, it kept me interested. Some reviews remarked that this reminds them of Gossip Girl, but set in Asia - and I can see why. And also, Nick Young? He made it to my book boyfriend list! (Though I seriously think she should've prepared Rachel BEFORE bringing her to SG.)

P.S.
Charlie Wu freakin' broke my heart. *softly cries*
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My Rating: ★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)
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Quotable Quotes:

"At some point, we all have to pay the price for our excesses, don't we?"


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This is the 21st book I've read this year and this has been part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. This is also the 3nd book I finished for my #AsianLitBingo Reading Challenge for Free Space#Bookworm2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Book: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All The Boys I've Loved Before, #3) by Jenny Han

The To All The Boys I've Loved Before series are books that are really close to my heart. I've read the first book and found it really charming, so I moved on to the next, which I read last year, and it made me fall in love even more. I thought Jenny would finish Lara Jean's story right then and there: there was closure, but apparently, not enough. Now we've come to the conclusion of yet another charming series, the 3rd and final book (serious, this time?), this is Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han. No one's complaining, though.

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Blurb:
Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.
Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.
But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.
When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?
 (via Goodreads)
I've been too foolish to not write a review for the previous two books - but I was in a reading frenzy and writing slump back then so it got buried along with other book reviews I've yet to write at that time. That was a grave mistake - so I guess my thoughts on this post will reflect the series as a whole, just highlighting enough things for this one book.

First off: Lara Jean is such a charming main character. She's awkward, nice, all the goody-two-shoes that she was raised to be - but as someone said in her yearbook - "it's always the quiet ones that are the most interesting." We watch her grow up and experience things from that sweet-sixteen Lara Jean to now, this almost-college-girl eighteen-year-old Lara Jean. It was hard to read sometimes, but as a teenager, that was a necessary phase. Her denials, her insecurities, and her love - for her family, for her friends, for Peter. It was such a joy to witness all that. Plus, her style is on point! Pinterest-worthy, even. Jenny Han curated the perfect style that I loved. Lara Jean is, head-to-toe, my aesthetic. Like everything spells like pastel, knee-high socks, cute clothes, girly things. It was all I ever wanted to be when I was that age (and maybe even now? LOL). I find it really cute and alluring since I am really drawn to today's Korean pop culture - and it shows. If I have a comment, I guess I wished for more emphasis on the Korean heritage thing here.

Then again... there's Peter. Hmmmm... what can I say. Reading about all these potential book-boyfriend-list-worthy characters these past few months definitely drowned Peter's existence in my head. Lara Jean and Peter's story wasn't really that gut-wrenching and punch-in-the-stomach inducing compared to others. But it was special because of its sheer simplicity. When I read the first few pages, the spell was immediately back. I forgot how easily it is  for Peter K. to captivate a lost heart. He was adoooorable in this. The braiding, the Fight Club couple costumes, the promposal -- everything. And he was definitely more fleshed out in here than in the previous two books, at least for me - reflecting how he opened up more to Lara Jean compared from before. I love how their relationship made me remember that it's the little things that matter.

And alsooooo, how can I forget? The FAMILY. If there's one thing, besides the cute romance, that I'll take away from this series, it's the lessons about family - specifically the relationship between the Song sisters and the brief glimpses, emotions, towards the memory of their mother. All the mommy-memories are too much for me sometimes - but it was one of the reasons why I fell in love with the series in the first place, so it was a necessary thing to include in this experience. And I guess it was fitting since I read this book when Mother's day was just around the corner.

As someone who lost her mother just recently, this theme really hits home. I remember crying over the brief emotional moments from book 1 and 2 when they are missing their mom - spoiler, no shortage of that either in this book. Their family life served as the foundation of how they interact and how deeply their relationships with each other go. I love the Song Sisters to death, and though Lara Jean is the center of this series, you can't think of her without thinking of the other two, Margot and Kitty, too.

"How crazy, how thrilling that your whole life trajectory can change in just one night. I've always been scared of change, but right now I don't feel that way. I feel excited. I'm seeing now what a privilege it is, to be excited about where I'm going."

This book is about dealing with the inevitable changes that come along with growing up and accepting possibilities that, no matter how uncomfortable they are at the onset, may make all the difference in the life you make for yourself. I love how it doesn't feel like this story just revolves around Peter and Lara Jean's love story - but also about family, friendship and figuring out what she really want to do. Because life is like that - each aspect overlapping one another, all at the same time. This reminded me so much of the time when I was also preparing to leave high school and start college. Too much going on, too many drama. And when I look back, the experience just always leaves a smile on my face.

This was such a bittersweet goodbye to a series that is so close to real life, it's hard not to get attached. Weddings, college, decisions to make, things to leave behind. It's the perfect closure. I can't have it any other way.
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My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)

If you follow me on Twitter, here's my Always and Forever, Lara Jean Reaction Thread: CLICK HERE.
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Quotable Quotes:

"Never say no when you really want to say yes."

"Is this how it goes? You fall in love, and nothing seems truly scary anymore, and life is one big possibility?"

"The thing is, you get used to it. Before you even realize it's happening, you get used to things being different..."

"There's so much to be excited about, if you let yourself be."

"...love is about making brave choices every day."

"It feels good to say a proper goodbye, to have a chance."
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This is the 20th book I've read this year and this has been part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. This is also the 2nd book I finished for my #AsianLitBingo Reading Challenge for Contemporary with Asian Main Character. #Bookworm2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Short Story: The Star Maiden by Roshani Chokshi


I am a Filipina and reading this story felt like being slapped by the wind whispering "it's yours, it's yours." The first mention of the word "Lola" sent me reeling. And then there's the "anak", "salbahe", mention of the Santos I grew up with, the monster in the stories they told us when we were young, even the puto and others - delicacies only a true born-and-bred Filipino will understand. It was a different experience, that I immediately scoured the internet for Roshani's background because I am pretty sure she's not Filipina - well, judging by her name alone. Turns out, her mother was.

The use of Tagalog unnerved me because it's been too long now since I read a story set in the Philippines, much less without a shortage of sprinkled tagalog words here and there. It was the familiarity I guess, the ease to which I imagined the scenes: typical provincial life, with the nice little bungalow, the festivities, the family. First few sentences and I can almost see my life reflected back at me. I won't be surprised if this post would mostly be about me talking how relateable this story has been.

The story was bittersweet - simple but magical. This reminded me so much of my early elementary days when digging for old literature books for children was my thing. It was reminiscent of the stories in the children's local school books - the tone, the setting. My own Lola was a teacher, you see, and I do think that sparked my love for reading at an early age.

"I don't want to lose anything. Not again."

The moment before the party, that conversation with her Lola, broke my heart. Maybe I was more affected than necessary - but I can't help it because it did reminded me so much of my grandmother. The storytelling, the gentleness, the love. Each mention of the Tala's Lola sent me gasping for air because I can clearly see my own with her's.

The ending made me cry. And the description of the dress won't leave my mind. If I could draw a proper sketch, I might've made one - but, alas, I can't.There was such mystery to the star maiden myth, that fed my curious mind - is her Lola telling the truth? Is she really a star maiden, tied to the Earth, and destined to come back to where she really belong? I would never know. But one thing's for sure: this story is such a magic to behold as it is entertaining to read. Kudos, to Roshani for this one.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)


You can read the full story HERE.

Quotable Quotes:

"The curse is to love, and be loved in return, and still have to leave."
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This story, The Star Maiden by Roshani Chokshi, is originally a part of Shimmer zine #26. This is the first I finished for my #AsianLitBingo Reading Challenge for Science Fiction and Fantasy with an Asian Main Character. #ownvoices

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book: Ruin and Rising (Grisha, #3) by Leigh Bardugo

After enduring an awesome ride with the two preceding books from the Grisha Trilogy, here we come to the conclusion of it all: This is RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo.

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Blurb:
The capital has fallen.
The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for. (via Goodreads)
I'm sure many would agree that getting to the end and closing Siege and Storm was amazingly frustrating, with all the cliffhanger and unfinished businesses. I'm just so glad that I read this in a time when all the books in the series were already published and available in the nearest bookstores. But great as it might seem, I did everything I could to muster up the courage of finishing this series because the moment I finish reading the last book -- it means I also need to say my goodbyes. And considering how attached I became to this series these past few days, it was so damn hard. Me and my feelings. Right.

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Looking back at my past reviews for this series, I noticed that I approached all of it character-wise. And in that element, this book is definitely a WIN. That was some amazing character development in there. We follow Alina, now hailed as a saint. The physical transformation was equally fitting and striking -- it mirrors so much of the things that changed ever since Alina discovered she could summon the light to this moment: how she became the face of the rebellion, redemption. Whoever thought of the white hair was genius, as it completely made her exact opposite of the Darkling - the light to his darkness.
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I love tragic things and, as such, I loved Mal in this. You know me? Gut-wrenching lines and hard sacrifices are my thing - so in this regard, this part of the story spoiled me too much. I began to like Mal in the latter part of the second book and when it came to the third and final one, he finally got my heart. Can I talk about that revelation? (Of course, not but-) Just. Woah. The way the plot transformed itself was just jaw-dropping. It took a moment to register because everything was pointing the other way when the reality was its not. I was just too caught up with everything that I did not notice.

There's the matter with Genya and her "ruination" line that was too remarkable for words that, if ever I consider to have a tattoo, was really good candidate for one. There's also Nikolai and his proposals. In a perfect world where Mal (and, okay, the Darkling) does not exist, he is a very, very good match for Alina. I do believe that a love story between the two of them has potential but I can't have the ending any other way.  I just wished Leigh did more to his character than what he got in this book.
"You were meant to be my balance, Alina. You are the only person in the world who might rule with with me, who might keep my power in check."

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But in the end, it was still the Darkling that captured my attention and feelings. I'm not sure if I already said it but I really think the heart of this series was his existence. He was such a complex character that it's hard to look away. Brilliant, brilliant characterization - it makes you want for more. What I would give for a Darkling POV chapter, because even in the end, there's too much I can't read, I can''t quite place. It haunted me, it left me wanting more - and I'm pretty sure that's as good as a character could get.
Darkling: You might make me a better man.
Alina: And you might make me a monster.
My heart broke numerous times because of him, the limited time we get to see and hear him. Most of the more striking Darkling scenes are from Alina's apparitions to the latter. They were charged with tension, and an air of loneliness and emptiness that was hard to ignore. I loved that, this time, Alina took the power-play approach to show him that he's not the only who can do that. There were glimpses of raw emotions from the Darkling, and, honestly speaking, those were the moments I loved the most. ("But i seem to be a victim of my own wishes where you are concerned.") Especially if  you've already had a look at the Darkling's back story via the story "The Demon in the Woods", your heart will break a little more for him - like mine did. It was heart-wrenching.

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Again, impressive, impressive plot and character development for the most part. Very few YA fantasy series have captured me to such extent as this one -- and I'm glad to say that this really made its mark. I should've read this a long time ago. I spared myself with awesomeness far too long and I'm glad that I stumbled upon Leigh Bardugo's work.

This book series easily landed in my 'favorites' list, not just of the year, but all time. YA these days tend to be forgettable, sadly, but this book provided something unique among its peers. Action-packed as it may seem, but the ending was.... respectful. I'm not sure if that is a legit way of describing a book ending - but it is. It was explosive but it has closure - a luxury these days. It's finished and I couldn't be more emotional over it. With rich world-building, complex and interesting characters, amazing character development and story line and plot twists that will leave you gripping your seat.... this is really worth your while!
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My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 out of 5 stars)

If you follow me on Twitter, here's my Ruin and Rising Reaction Thread: CLICK HERE.
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Quotable Quotes:

"I don't reserve my friendship for perfect people."

"I am not ruined. I am ruination."

"It's a promise to be better than I was," he said. [...] "And I guess it's a reminder that wanting and deserving aren't the same thing."

"Suffering is cheap as clay and twice as common. What matters is what each man makes of it."

"Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay."

He watches her the way Harshaw watches fire. Like he'll never have enough of her. Like he's trying to capture what he can before she's gone.
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This is the 12th book I've read this year. This is part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. #Bookworm2017

#AsianLitBingo Reading Challenge and TBR

I was lazily scrolling through Twitter yesterday when I stumbled upon an interesting tweet from Aentee. Apparently, there's this thing that's currently happening in the book blogosphere: curiously tagged as #AsianLitBingo - and I decided to check it out. 

So as a short background, May is designated as the Asian American Heritage Month in the U.S. In line with this, a group of book bloggers, headed by Shenwei, thought of a perfect way to celebrate it by holding a readathon/reading challenge specifically targeting books with Asian main characters (MCs) written by Asian authors. Isn't it nice? I though so, too.


This reading challenge takes the form of a 5x5 bingo board with a total of 25 reading prompts. Basic goal is to complete at least one line (5 books) in this board either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. But, of course, you can also exhaust all the 25 prompts and go all out! It's all up to you! However, there are a few ground rules to remember:
  1. Book must have an Asian main character (can be one of several main characters) and be by an Asian author to qualify. It does not have to be #ownvoices, but #ownvoices is strongly encouraged.
  2. Book can be a novel/novella/novelette or comic book/graphic novel.
  3. Book must be read during May 1st through May 31st to qualify.
  4. Review link-up will close end of June 1st at midnight PDT. The extra margin is to give people the opportunity to write up a review for a book they might have finished late May 31st. We’ll follow the honor system assuming you didn’t read the book on June 1st.
Besides this being such an absolute delight, this also doubles as a contest! For more in-depth mechanics for this challenge, you can check out Shenwei's master post.

So here's is the #AsianLitBingo board designed by Aantee:


So I am targeting the 3rd horizontal line in the board. Now that I think about it, I really had a shortage of books written by Asian authors in my past reading lists - except maybe the obvious Haruki Murakami obsession. This is really a great chance to meet new authors - good thing the group provided a reeeeeally exhaustive list of recommendations for this challenge which you can view HERE.

As for my TBR list, here goes:

Contemporary with Asian MC
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
I'm not sure if joining this challenge is just an excuse to read Jenny Han's latest offering or the other way around but any other way, I. AM. NOT. COMPLAINING. I've been waiting since forever for this book after P.S. I Still Love You so it;s really nice that it is qualified for this challenge.








Retelling with Asian MC
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Found this in the list mentioned above and upon reading the blurb, I became instantly interested. This is a YA retelling of the story of Aladdin and received really good ratings and reviews at Goodreads. Plus, can you spot that S.J. Maas comment? Yeah, even I am freaking out.









FREE SPACE
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
I purposely aimed for that Free Space back there so that I could read two contemporaries in this challenge. God, I love contemporary fiction. But anyway, this is a book that I've been dying to read since forever but for some weird reason it always got put off. But since a movie is in the works already, might as well try this one now before all the hype swallows it whole. (#ReadIt1st!!!) I heard it's hilarious.






Historical Fiction with Asian MC
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Another YA book in the roster. Saw this at Aentee's review and it got an exemplary review so what am I even asking for, right? Plus, impressive blurb at Goodreads. #sold









SFF with Asian MC

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho
The Star Maiden by Roshani Chokshi

Torn lady, here! Again, I found these from the list. Let's what happens - whatever gives. :)

So there you have it: my TBR list for this challenge. Honestly, it's been a while since I did something fun in this blog... so I guess this is the first of many? I am really excited for this. 

Are you joining, too? Comment up and let's talk! :)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

#6

You were never on top. But for some twisted reason, you think you are - at least, you believe you can if you tried. You have this weirdly high standards with everything; but sadly, you can't keep up. And every time you fail to meet your expectations, something inside you caves in. Something breaks. And with time, the damage accumulates.

You started laughing less - choosing indifference rather than feel too deeply. You started to avoid deep conversations - because no matter how you explain it, you feel like they can't understand, not enough.

Slowly, you withdrew from a world that feels too much and too little at the same time. And before you knew it, the light in your eyes started to fade. You can feel it then, can hear it clearly despite the noise: something completely crumbled, forever changed. You can't go back now.
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Just because you let four little words get in your head: "You are not enough." Words? They're wind but they're deadly. They can kill.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book: Siege and Storm (Grisha, #2) by Leigh Bardugo

I've been in a reading frenzy because of this book series and I'm not even sorry. This is SIEGE AND STORM, the second book of the Grisha Trilogy, by Leigh Bardugo. I cannot promise a spoiler-free review so read at your own risk. *winks*

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Blurb:
Darkness never dies. 
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. 
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. (via Goodreads)
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We left off from Shadow and Bone with Alina and Mal, on the run and hunted by the Darkling across the True Sea. As with most of contemporary YA series these days, I was worried that it might suffer the "Second Book Syndrome" but no - I was wrong. First chapter down and the action already started  - Leigh Bardugo doesn't even make us breathe.

In Siege and Storm, we get to see a different Alina from what we've seen in the first book. The Sun Summoner who now takes controls of her powers and her life. Pitted against one of the most powerful Grisha that ever lived and tasked with rebuilding an army that is in danger of collapsing, she pushed on and take on the responsibility. "For someone who has no idea what she's doing, I'd say you're managing pretty well." Sometimes, it's hard to imagine that she's just an 18-year old girl that got her life turned upside down because of a power that chose to show itself at the most unexpected time. At Siege and Storm, she grappled at the darkness rooting inside her brought about by the great power that she wield - whilst trying to deal with the visions as a result of a forged connection with the Darkling. She learned how to be a pretty good leader that the Grisha respects and abides. From a scrawny, invisible girl to this - it can't get any better than this.

For some reason, there's not enough
Stormhond fanarts around.
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This book also introduced several other characters that added color and action to the already breathtaking story - notably one that easily stole my heart: STORMHOND! I really did this backwards and I may have been spoiled by Crooked Kingdom with several things - but nevertheless, he was a welcome addition to the bunch! This book was a bit slow compared to the first one, but man was Stormhond the firecracker that he is. He just pops from the pages - a smooth talker, changes personalities at a whim, and has the buckets of confidence and wits that could charm the whole of Ravka and ME! As if having Mal and the Darkling in Alina's life is not enough, Leigh stretches it more and adds another one. Stormhond was a born leader, a political strategist and an innovator through and through. She guided Alina how to navigate safely at court - I felt like I was reading The 48 Laws of Power multiple times - and I've read my fair share of political drama to appreciate this kind of thing.
The less you say, the more weight your words will carry. 
Don't argue. Never deign to deny. Meet insults with laughter. 
Weakness is a guise. Wear it when they need to know you're human, but never when you feel it. 
Don't wish for bricks when you can build from stone. Use whatever or whoever is in front of you. 
Get them to follow the little orders, and they'll follow the big ones. 
"I want to kiss you. But I won't. Not until you're thinking of me instead of trying to forget him." OK THIS ONE = NOT POLITICS
He was funny and each of his remarks provides the light this dark series needed - and everything rang true. I love that he is honest and driven - and he paraded his ambition like it is something necessary and he is right. "I'm not going to apologize for being ambitious. It doesn't change the fact that I'm the best man for the job." God, I love him. His dynamic with Alina was easy and something to look forward to in the pages. And sad as it may, he eclipses Mal in every way I'm not even sorry for fangirling over him.

Another brooding art of the Darkling //
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Speaking of Mal - it was painful to watch Mal and Alina drift apart. I find myself slowly warming up to him and their lovestory, but of course, not enough - not with Stormhond on page LOL. But at least the story drifted out of the ordinary. "I feel you slipping away from me, and I don't know how to stop it." It was realistic, and painful. And I loved it as much as it broke my heart. "Would there be a time when it didn't hurt to look at him?" I can sense some impending doom somewhere and with these things, they usually are there - I just hope that by the end of this series, I can't still clutch my chest and whisper *it's okay* like I mean it.

As for the Darkling, there's still that same old PULL that got me hooked on him from Shadow and Bone. My problem with this book? Too little Darkling scenes. Much of the book had Alina cooped up at court practicing, strategizing with Stormhond - so the chances for confrontations may be a bit low. But alas, Leigh is there to give us what we desire - it seemed our little heroine is seeing things and beginning to think she is going mad. Yes, guys, Darkling apparitions are everywhere. It started off creepy - and like Alina, I slowly got used to it, found it comforting even. It was a different kind of high - the moments he appeared in Alina's sight were surprisingly quiet. I loved every minute of it. You could expect Alina to go berserk when talking to him face-to-face, but since this isn't real, they are conversing normally and the results are just goosebump-inducing.
"Why won't you leave me alone?" I whispered one night as he hovered behind me while I tried to work at my desk. [...] "Then I'd be alone, too," he said, and he stayed the whole night through, till the lamps burned down to nothing.
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For some reason, these fleeting moments are just too fleshed out in my mind that I can even see it when I close my eyes. It may be my imagination - or I am just too biased with my fangirling over the Darkling - but I can sense some real emotion there. It may be the desire to have someone like him on his side, almost a physical ache - what with all the brief vulnerable moments. The intrigue, the mystery, that *misunderstood* vibe - you can't help but be drawn in.


Overall, this a a great follow-up to Shadow and Bone - though the first book is still my favorite. The build up to the final chapters were properly done - and the confrontation was unexpected, surprising as it should. The twist at the last minute was out of the blue, and the sacrifice that was almost made was exciting to say the least. There's a small part of me that wants the Darkling to still be redeemable at the end, but after reading this - I'm not so sure. Scratch that - I think I'm not so sure about anything at all. Leigh Bardugo managed to be anything but predictable, it's amazing. I wonder how she does it. Recommended, still! 
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My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

If you follow me on Twitter, here's my Siege and Storm Reaction Thread: CLICK HERE.
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Quotable Quotes:

"Fear is a powerful ally," he said. "And loyal."

"Anything worth doing always starts as a bad idea."

"When people say impossible, they usually mean improbable."

"Understatement is overrated."

"We do our best. We try. And sometimes, it makes no difference at all."
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This is the 9th book I've read this year -- and this has been part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. #Bookworm2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Novella: The Witch of Duva (Grisha, #0.5) by Leigh Bardugo


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Blurb:
There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls...or so the story goes. But it’s just possible that the danger may be a little bit closer to home. This story is a companion folk tale to Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel, Shadow and Bone. (via Goodreads)
Unlike other tie-in novellas, this does not involve a backstory of sort or main-novel character POV - but serve to further the world built in the main story, in this case, Ravka. This is a tie-in novella to the Grisha trilogy's Shadow and Bone, and it's recommended to read the latter first before diving to this. But this can still be devoured on its own. :)

This story is told through Nadya's point of view, after her mother died and her brother enlisted to serve in the army, leaving her to live with his father and eventually a step-mom. Little girls are disappearing in her neighborhood and Nadya is being threatened in her own household.

This story is creepy, dark and twisted - reminiscent of the original Grimm stories I came to love. This is a sort of retelling of the classic Hansel and Gretel, and if you're a fan of these stories, you may even find other references here and there. It has an intriguing plot line and interesting narrative and, gaaaaahd, don't even get me started on THAT TWIST! Since this is Leigh Bardugo, I expected some kind of a twist and when it does come - I was speechless. *slow claps* Even in novellas/short stories, Leigh never fell short. She gives readers what they deserve - and more. Props to Leigh Bardugo, I demand more of her!
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My Rating: ★★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)


You can read this for FREE. Click here and enjoy!
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Quotable Quotes:

Dark things have a way of slipping in through narrow spaces.
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This is the 8th book I've read this year -- and this has been part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. #Bookworm2017

Book: Shadow and Bone (Grisha, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

As promised in my last post, I finally started reading Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Series. This is also set in the Grishaverse, the same universe where Six of Crows and it's sequel, Crooked Kingdom, were set. The Grisha series was technically written and published before the Six of Crows duology so note that I really did this backwards. If you are like me who the read SoC first, be careful of Crooked Kingdom for it has several spoilers for this trilogy.

Anyway, back to the main agenda of this post, my thoughts on Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone:

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Blurb:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be tained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.
(via Goodreads)

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Leigh Bardugo did it again. I was a fan then (SoC duology) and I am fan still now. The world building is still exquisite. Since I had an introduction to the Grishaverse far earlier (Zoya! Genya! hurrah for familiar faces!) than I should have, it was not really hard to imagine most of it -- but to go deeper into their histories and fabled world is still such a thrill to behold. I read this for the Darkling but now I am sure I am continuing this not just because of him - this book took my breath away.

Leigh presented another badass heroine: Alina Strakov. I keep thinking how beautifully she named her characters and Alina Starkov sounds like someone who would do great things to change the world. Shadow and Bone was told through her point of view, and she took us with her through her journey in discovering this world and herself. She was unsure and insecure for most of the book but even those parts, I enjoyed. Maybe it's the way she presents her stories. She's human, relatable. And certainly interesting.

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Aaaaaand, this post won't ever be complete without me rambling about the Darkling. He was an interesting villain -- and I can see why almost everyone are giving a nod to the Darkling for Red Queen's Maven Calore. The Darkling's presence on page is mesmerizing, for some reason. The first time he appeared on page, I figured I'll be all over him -- and I was not wrong. He was intense and mysterious - plus he could summon the darkness. (I'm not really sure why they didn't even consider him a villain at the onset with that ability but yeah~) When it comes to him, my imagination becomes overly active: I kept imagining every little thing he does - the way he moves, the way he speaks, and even his expressions. His flickering smiles killed me. And everytime he ran his hands through his hair or over his neck, I lose my mind. I can't blame Alina for everything. I know it's wrong but it's hard to resist the PULL.

On the other hand, I can't make myself warm up to Alina's friend and supposedly, the love of her life: Mal. Maybe because their love story is 'normal'? Maybe because it was too predictable? Or maybe I just have a thing with villains. LOL Anyway, I hope I could warm up to him in the coming books because I think what they have will be ship that takes off in the long run.

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Leigh managed to create this unique and magical world, filled with mysteries, intrigues and even politics. Also, this is loosely based in the Imperial Russian setting and that certainly added another twist to the story. I was in a roller coaster of emotion all throughout and this book occupied my thoughts even when I am at work. From all time high, to all time low - Leigh Bardugo managed to get my attention every single chapter. The plot twists were awesome and ones I didn't really expect and, hey, it takes so much to surprise me these days. I am a fan of slow-burns: of chapters teeming with anticipation and promise, those with things that linger in the shadows only to show themselves at the right moment for impact. I really love this book to bits and I should've read this a long time ago. Definitely, definitely recommended!

Read the first chapter here: CLICK HERE.
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My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

If you follow me on Twitter, here's my Shadow and Bone Reaction Thread: CLICK HERE.
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Quotable Quotes:

"I wonder sometimes how much we really understand our own gifts," he mused.

"There is something more powerful than any army. something strong enough to topple kings and even Darklings. Do you know what that things is?" [...] "Faith," he breathed, his black eyes wild. "Faith."

"There's nothing wrong with being a mapmaker." "Of course not. And there's nothing wrong with being a lizard either. unless you were born to be a hawk."

"Do you think the world cares if you do your best? Do it again and do it right."

"The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak."
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This is the 7th book I've read this year -- and this has been part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. #Bookworm2017

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Book: King's Cage (Red Queen, #3) by Victoria Aveyard

I am back from my hole! Here's another post to share my thoughts about this one book that took over my entire week because of the #feels: Book 3 of the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard - KING'S CAGE.

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Book Blurb:
In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?
Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.
As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.
When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down. (via Goodreads)
After that explosive Glass Sword ending, I was really looking forward to the release of this follow up. This book follows Mare Barrow in captivity of the current king of Norta, Maven Calore - her former betrothed and the boy he once loved and cared for, until a betrayal changed everything. I dove into this expecting that this book focused more on Maven's and Mare's dynamics and I was not disappointed. So let me tell you my feels. (ಥ,ಥ)

I've read a number of reviews before writing my own and some people found the beginning chapters (i.e., Mare's captivity/imprisonment/psychological torture or whatever you may call it) slow and depressing -- but I totally disagree. I love me some Cal and Mare shipping but who am I kidding? I came here for Maven and Maven alone.

I've yearned for a Maven POV ever since I finished Red Queen and though I didn't exactly get one in King's Cage, Aveyard gave us enough of a peek behind the mask of this unlikely villain through Mare's chapters. I loved the first half of the book. And as far as I am concerned, those chapters provided me much more feels that the rest of the book ever gave me.

I'm sure you've figured it out by now but I am extremely biased with Maven because I like my book characters layered and imperfect and Maven is exactly that. Maven's obsession with Mare was on a different level. It was painful to read but those were the parts that I enjoyed the most. Those brief moments of vulnerability around Mare, the occasional touches. What Maven *feels* for Mare- poisoning them both in each of their own prisons. It killed me a couple of times. Maven and Mare's dynamics in their scenes was EVERYTHING. It was intense, sexy, painful, depressing and full of psychological force all at the same time that I found myself clutching my chest almost all the time because my heart hurts so much. (Apologies to my roommate who have to go through me shouting at my Kindle in the middle of the night.) My feelings are all over the place. Maven's presence in the pages was arresting and the effect he has on Mare was intoxicating to read. I was tempted to skip the pages he's not present in a couple of times but I fought through it.What we have here is a boy, tormented and broken since the day he was born - his mind constantly haunted by paranoia, his ghost of a soul, not knowing what in his thoughts are his own and what's not. What really got me was the fact (spoiler, highlight if you want to read) that he was not a puppet, maneuvered by his mother to do as she please, but that he was conscious of it and accepts it that he continued on even after she was gone. He was too broken, corrupted to the core, that I doubt if there would ever be a redemption fit for him in the next book - but death, oh God, no. He reminds me so much of Soo Won from Akatsuki No Yona, but on a more evil scale - it's so hard to hate him even if I have every reason to. Many reviews compared him to the Darkling from Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Series and I might even read it after this one.

Mare and Maven via Pinterest from charliebowater.tumblr.com
NOTE: THIS FANART IZ PURFECT! (ಥ,ಥ)
As for our main heroine, somehow I like King's-Cage Mare more than Glass-Sword Mare. In Book 2, she was always trying to be strong and proud to the point of deceiving even herself. Her *lightning girl* dialogues irked me off whenever it came on  page - I just can't stand it. I like her in this: I like her pained and afraid. I like her vulnerable - because it's the truth. You can keep lying to everybody and show off an image but you can't lie even in your inner dialogue, you really can't. I have to give applause to Aveyard for portraying PTSD very well with Mare. For me, Mare experienced the most character development in this book than in the previous two. Experience changes people and witnessing how it changed Mare was such a joy (though painful) to watch.

I used to ship Cal and Mare so hard at book one but now I am just bored. Honestly, I have more feelings with  Mare's relationship with  Maven. I guess this confirms that I am really a fan of doomed romances and unrequited loves - but I digress. Somehow, I can't see myself warming up (pun intended) to the first prince. I love how he loves Mare, I swoon at the way he looks at her and care for her but there's something lacking. Like he's just sticking by Mare because he has no one, because it's convenient. He can't make choices, that Mare and Maven already knows, but when he does, I'm questioning them. And don't get me started on that freakin' ending. I can't say that I didn't see that coming, but my heart still shattered to pieces when it came. Gaaad, I can't stand Cal but I must. I need to see this book series till the end.

For some reason, I read this book thinking that this was the last in the series so my expectations about it ending right here and there was pretty weird. I don't usually check my progress when I'm using my Kindle so I didn't really know it was about to end until I saw the word "Epilogue" and so I started panicking. LOL. But all in all, the impact and feelings this third book in the series gave is undeniable. This was Victoria Aveyard in one of her best - I am floored.  Red Queen (book 1) is still my favorite but King's Cage can definitely hold its own. Definitely recommended! 

P.S.
The cover is still as breathtaking as ever.
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My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

If you follow me on Twitter, here's my King's Cage Reaction ThreadCLICK HERE.

In the meantime, behold this gorgeous King's Cage book trailer as narrated by Maven (I know!):




Quotable Quotes:
hand-lettered by yours truly. :)

It's too cruel to give hope where none should be.

To look powerful is to be powerful.

"You ask how much of it was me," he whispers. "Some. Enough."

"People like us," he scoffs. "We lie to everyone. Especially ourselves."

"Those who know what it's like in the dark will do anything to stay in the light."

Power seduces all, and it makes us blind.

To stand in front of a person who is you world and be told you are not enough. You are not the choice. You are a shadow to the person who is your sun.
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This is the 6th book I've read this year -- and this has been part of my 2017 Reading Challenge. #Bookworm2017

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