The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Summary:
The Sukai Dynasty has ruled the Phoenix Empire for over a century, their mastery of bone shard magic powering the monstrous constructs that maintain law and order. But now the emperor’s rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the Emperor’s daughter, but a mysterious illness has stolen her childhood memories and her status as heir to the empire. Trapped in a palace of locked doors and old secrets, Lin vows to reclaim her birthright by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
But the mysteries behind such power are dark and deep, and wielding her family’s magic carries a great cost. When the revolution reaches the gates of the palace itself, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her throne – and save her people.

Book Cover

Review:
The Bone Shard Daughter follows quite a few different characters. Because of this, it was hard to really get into until a decent way into the book. It felt like it took a really long time to get to know each of the characters because we were following so many different people. Despite that, I did end up really enjoying this book. I did grow to love all of the characters and their individual journeys. I liked how each of the characters played an important role in the overall plot. Stewart really did a great job bringing the story full circle so that all the bits and pieces connected to one another. The plot felt like it was really well done. It was complex and detailed, but still pretty easy to follow. There were some mysteries that I thought I’d totally put together only to find out in later reveals that I was wrong. I love books that surprise me, so I really liked this.
The world building was also really interesting. It felt a little bit out of balance though. So, the Empire has many islands. It says that right in the summary. But because of the characters we follow, we only see maybe three islands total. We don’t really hear very much about the other islands either. It was just a little unbalanced to me because if there really is a full-scale rebellion going on, shouldn’t it be happening on all of these many islands? Aside from that issue that I had, I thought the world building and the setting was great. I could really see in my head what was happening with the island that sank. I thought the setting of the palace was a good one. But I think what interested me the most was the mythology and legends of the people that came before. Those that Lin’s family defeated and supposedly protects the Empire from their return. I’d love to know more about them.
Overall, this was a slow buildup of a story. I think the second book is going to be way more fast paced since so much of the buildup was done in the first book. It has characters that I found myself invested in (some queer!) and eager to know how things will unfold for them. I really liked that the reader got to see and learn things that the characters didn’t know yet. It did a wonderful job of creating suspense and anticipation while we waited for the characters to learn what the reader already knew. I definitely can’t wait for the second book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Recommendations

Hi, lovelies! It’s May and that means its the start of Asian/Pacific Amerircan Heritage month. I highly recommend these books and authors all year round, but I know many specifically seek out these recommendations during the month of May. So, some books and authors for you to read this month.

Middle Grade

Dragon Pearl

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim

Young Adult

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, #1)

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Adult

Phoenix Extravagant

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

These are all books I’ve read and loved and highly recommend. Some on this list are all time favorites and some are books I read this year that will be making my 2021 favorites lists. What books would you recommend by AAPI authors?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

GoodReads Summary:
Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.
Heidi Heilig creates a world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism.
For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, #1)Review:
I loved this book. I put it off for so long because it’s a pretty thick book. But I’m mad at myself for waiting. I enjoyed the hell out of this story.
Jetta is a shadow player. But she’s more than that. She has a magical ability that is forbidden. She’s trying to help her family get a better life by showcasing their talent as shadow players to gain a place on a ship. I loved Jetta. She wanted to do more. But she was scared because her mother trained her that she’s never to show or tell about her abilities. But when they’re present when the rebels attack, she chooses to help instead of hiding. I liked her because she almost always tried to do what was best for her family, even if that meant defying them and making hard choices.
I loved all the other characters too. They were complicated and not a single one of them was one thing. They were so complex and well developed. I am dying for the next book to see what’s going to happen in this world.
The world was so interesting. There’s an author’s note in the back of the book that explains it’s not supposed to be historical. But it’s drawn from both Asian and French culture. I really thought this was so interesting. The French was a bit tough only because I don’t speak it, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story at all. The world was so interesting and well developed. The world is large but has many issues. The politics were fascinating and took turns I wouldn’t have seen coming a million miles away. I loved that I was surprised and I loved the intricacies of the world and politics.
Overall, I was easily sucked into this world. I’m craving to know more about the magic and the history. I also am dying to know what will happen with all the chaos that Jetta has created. I love this book and I wish more people were talking about it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

GoodReads Summary:
Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.
Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.
But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.
Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox, #3)Review:
I was beyond excited when I approved for an ARC of this book, so to start, big thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This was a wonderful finale for this trilogy. I had a hard time getting into it at first, but that was my own issue with fantasy at the moment. I pushed through and once the gang made it about halfway through the book (to the location where the big battle was going down) I was hooked. Julie Kagawa has created such lovable and well-developed characters. I just adored them all. Their relationship as a whole group was so heartwarming. They’ve been through so much together and it was absolutely devastating to see the end result for these characters. (Julie Kagawa takes “kill your babies” VERY seriously.) There is a wonderfully done male/male romance. And I would die for both of them. I’m purposefully not naming any names because I cannot spell any of them to save my life and I’m writing this on my phone because this review will never get written otherwise.
Overall, I really thought this was an excellent ending to a great series. I really loved the ending even though parts totally broke my little heart. I love this world and there were so many little details that just made the story that much better. Sorry if this review is a bit vague, but it’s the third and final book and I don’t want to spoil anything. But please read this series. It’s diverse and wonderful and everyone needs to love it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

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GoodReads Summary:
One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.
Now he has broken free.
Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.
Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.
Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2)Review:
I found this sequel to be much slower than the first. I had to convince myself to pick it up and finish. The final one hundred pages or so was all action and I loved it. Despite it being a slow story, the world was fascinating. I love what Kagawa has done with Asian mythology. I loved all the different aspects of the world. I especially loved the Kitsune magic and seeing Yumeko learn more about it and herself.
This squad of unlikely friends gives me life. I love the way they bicker and argue. I loved the dynamics between them. There was a bit of male/male romance going on and I’m not sure how it will end but I’m so here for it. I don’t want to get into too much detail, but this group of friends is loyal and determined to beat the odds, to do what is right even if it leads to their deaths.
I definitely enjoyed the first book better, but I think that’s more because of my relationship with the fantasy genre is a little wobbly right now. I made myself read this rather than waiting until I was in the mood for it and that might have had en effect on how much I liked it. I definitely suggest it for anyone looking for fantasy that isn’t European based. It’s full of characters you can’t help but love, fascinating world-building, and myth and folklore that I’d never known anything about previously.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco

Summary:
In the Eight Kingdoms, none have greater strength or influence than the asha, who hold elemental magic. But only a bone witch has the power to raise the dead. Tea has used this dark magic to breathe life into those she has loved and lost…and those who would join her army against the deceitful royals. But Tea’s quest to conjure a shadowglass, to achieve immortality for the one person she loves most in the world, threatens to consume her.
In this dramatic conclusion to Tea’s journey, her heartglass only grows darker with each new betrayal. She is haunted by blackouts and strange visions, and when she wakes with blood on her hands, Tea must answer to a power greater than she’s ever known. Tea’s life-and the fate of the kingdoms-hangs in the balance.
The Shadowglass (The Bone Witch, #3)Review:
The relationship I have with this series is complex and resembles a roller coaster. I didn’t really care for the first book. The Bone Witch (reviewed here) was a confusing introduction to this world. The Heart Forger (reviewed here) was the book that pulled me in. It helped me understand what was actually going on. Then I had to wait almost a year for this finale to be released. I remembered enough that I didn’t think I needed to reread the first two again before getting to The Shadowglass.
I started off a fair bit confused. I didn’t remember all the important details and I was a little disoriented. There wasn’t really any recap of the previous books and the large cast of characters had me a bit lost.
Despite all of this, I still really enjoyed this conclusion. I was immediately drawn into the world and the story. I was so excited to finally get all the answers to the pile of questions I had from the first two books. I adored the world. The magic and the world itself were so complex and interesting. This world was so different from most of the other fantasy stories I’ve read.
The characters were still interesting, though I think I didn’t care about them as much as I would have had I reread the first two books. I think when I do reread this series it will be SUCH an experience. I really liked the diversity of the characters. There were so many characters and so many different relationships. This was kind of where I struggled with not remembering things from the first two books.
It was really nice to be able to see how this story comes to a close. This conclusion was good. I thought that everything was pretty nicely wrapped up. Though I finished this book about a week ago, so I’m already a little fuzzy on some of the ending details. I don’t do that well with the flashback storytelling method. I get confused between the characters and the past and present. Regardless, Rin Chupeco is an incredible author and I cannot wait to read the other books she’s coming out with this year.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.