Dragon-Slayers and An Epic Rebellion: a Review of The Last Namsara by Kriten Ciccarelli

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Genre:
Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication date: October 3rd, 2017
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 416

Series: Iskari #1

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Blurb:

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness–and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari–a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.


Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend–a slave boy from her betrothed’s household–Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

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First off, let me begin by saying how much I truly enjoyed The Last Namsara. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this debut novel by Ciccarelli and reading this did not disappoint. There are few debut novels that can capture my attention so quickly like The Last Namsara.

“The old heroes were called Namsara after a beloved god, he said. So she would be called Iskari, after a deadly one.”

The Last Namsara has all the right amounts of female bad-assery, characters of both royalty and slavery descent, action scenes full of suspense and lots and lots of dragons. Oh the beautiful dragons. Those amazing creatures whom Asha, our main protagonists, kills as her job.

I loved how this book progressed in terms of its characters and the plot. Never did I feel bored while reading this and the impeccable writing made it all the more enjoyable.

One of the things I truly enjoyed in The Last Namsara is its wide range of characters bringing so many depths to the book. You have Asha, the dragon slayer, also known as the Iskari (Death-Bringer). Her brother, Dax, skral-blooded cousin, Safire, ruthless misogynistic bethroted promised to her since the age of 8, Jarek, and her father, the Dragon King. I found each character easily imagined and it was very easy to love Safire, hate Jarek and fall in love with Dax. The only thing I wished differently for the characters was for us to see more of these supporting characters. While I understand the first book tends to focus more of the protagonist, I think readers would have enjoyed reading more about Safire and Dax.

We definitely see more of Torwin, Jarek’s slave who eventually befriends Asha and shows her a different side to the slaves which leads to Asha having the biggest character development throughout the book. And I’m very happy the author did such a good job on it!

As for Asha, the plot of The Last Namsara played really nicely into allowing us to see her as this strong yet scared girl who’s haunted by a past mistake. With her fierce determination to redeem herself in the eyes of those who fear her, she takes on the task to hunt down The First Dragon, and consequently destroying all the old stories and the tragedies they bring.

As the story progresses, we see that what Asha previously believed and held strongly to may not be the entire truth. And how she opens her heart to the truth and learn to love was a brilliant journey to undertake. From an unemotional, fiercely loyal, strong female, we see her develop more loving emotions towards her brother, cousin and the truth of her past and the people around her.

“Iskari let others define her because she thought she didn’t have a choice. Because she thought she was alone and unloved.”

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I like how a lot of difficult and troubling issues were tackled in the book. From slavery to misogynist characters, the ending really addressed all of these that gave what the story needed: a strong voice to fight wrongs and let rights prevail. I was initially troubled by how disturbing the people of Firgaard is and Asha’s beliefs in the superiority of The Dragon King and people of Firgaard above everyone else. But how the story develops and what she learns about the real world allowed this book to have a life of its own.

The twists and turns at every corner is this book was mindblowing! Every few pages, I found myself surprised at the plot development, and how amazing the characters turn out to be. It wasn’t written in a rushed way where everything was crammed within 300 pages, but rather the plot had subtle hits which all adds up to the epic climax at the end. I applaud the author for writing, what seems to me, is a great plot.

Not to mention the dragons written in The Last Namsara were just so regal and majestic! Dragons come to life in The Last Namsara and we see them in all their glory despite Asha’s mission to slay them all. We see a side of them rarely seen in fantasy books and I love how well the author has made its readers connect with the dragons after Asha starts hunting Kozu, The First Dragon. For mythical creatures, it was amazing to feel how real the dragons were in the book.

Overall, The Last Namsara had all the right elements to make a first debut novel in a series shine. Great characters, great plots and amazing writing that grips you right from the start, this is a book you don’t want to miss out. .

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for proving an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

 

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The Heir of Sounis Returns: a Review of A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

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Genre:
Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: February 28th, 2017 (originally published in March 5th 2010)
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 312

Series: The Queen’s Thief #4
#1: The Thief Review
#2: The Queen of Attolia Review
#3: The King of Attolia Review

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Blurb:
After an attempted assassination and kidnapping, Sophos, heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears. Those who care for him—including the thief Eugenides and the Queen of Eddis—are left to wonder if he is alive and if they will ever see him again.

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Warning: Spoilers if you haven’t read the previous 3 books in this series.

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Don’t get me wrong, I think Megan Whalen Turner is an amazing writer. But A Conspiracy of Kings was probably my least favourite book in the series so far. That said, I still think the writing and plot is amazing. Not as amazing as The King of Attolia, but a great read nonetheless.

The story starts in a whole new different setting from King of Attolia. The previous three books shared a similar setting despite being told from different POVs. But A Conspiracy of Kings is set in an entirely new location where we are once again reunited with Sophos, the sole heir of Sounis.

I love how Turner starts each book with a surprising event. And A Conspiracy of Kings did not disappoint. I am reminded again of how brilliant Turner writes and spins such intricate political plot twists into her books.

“All my life they had made choices for me, and I had resented it. Now the choice was mine, and once it was made, I would have no right to blame anyone else for the consequences. Loss of that privilege, to blame others, unexpectedly stung.” 

We meet again with Sophos, who is obviously alive in this book. From last we saw him in The Thief, was this insecure and scared prince heir who loves books and knowledge. He was at such a discomfort in being the sole heir to his uncle Sounis, that we can’t predict how things turn out for him in A Conspiracy of Kings. But I think Sophos had the biggest character development throughout the entire series. His transformation in this book was very well-written and it adds to the depth of The Queen’s Thief series’ entire plot.

We see the other cast of characters scattered around the book after the first half. And it makes you realise how much you’ve missed them from the previous 3 books. You’ll be happy to see Attolia, Gen and Eddis get involved with Sophos’ role in the book, setting the plot for some very important scenes to unfold in this book. It’s great to see them again all together, making plans to save Sounis and evade the Medes.

“If I couldn’t be Eddis, I would be Attolia. If they needed to see my uncle in me, then I would show him to them. And I would take Attolia’s advice because if I identified my enemy and destroyed him, Sounis would be safe.”

Overall, A Conspiracy of Kings was a pleasant read. With Turner, you’ll never know what’s really going to happen next. It was wonderful to plunge back into Turner’s world of intricate political machinations in which the enemies and allies are never quite clear. Though, I am still frustrated with the ending in A Conspiracy of Kings and cannot believe Turner left her readers with that for seven years before Thick as Thieves came out. And I’m still not too sure how Thick as Thieves will be for me. It’s from the Mede’s POV and none from the characters we’ve come to know and love.

Have you read any of the books in this series and what did you think?

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A Story That Tugs You Northward: a Review of The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Knope
Publication date: 1995
Format: Paperback
Source: Penguin Random House Malaysia
Page Count: 399

Series: His Dark Materials #1

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Blurb:
What Lyra likes best is “clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war.”

But Lyra’s carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust.

Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from “gyptians“ to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.

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“We are all subject to the fates. But we must act as if we are not, or die of despair.” 

The Golden Compass is definitely a unique and interesting first installment to the highly-acclaimed His Dark Materials Trilogy. I’ve heard of this series for a while now and with the excitement surrounding The Book of Dust coming out on 19th October, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the original series. The Book of Dust is set in the world of His Dark Materials, so I’m pretty excited to start this series.

Right off the bat I have to say this fantasy series crosses between both young adult and adult fantasy genres. The way the story skips from childish language to subliminal messages buried within the plot was nothing short of amazing. While this may throw off some people as the writing style switches every so often, I personally found that this trait adds to the book’s appeal. Sure it was frustrating at times to read about an extensive description of a scene, but to have a precocious child like Lyra Balacqua simplify everything afterward helped a lot. So a fair warning to future readers: the writing can get long-winded and very descriptive (just like adult fantasy reads tend to do), but if you can get used to that sort of writing, then you’ll enjoy the plot and group of characters in The Golden Compass.

Speaking of characters, there was nothing short in the supply of characters written in this book. From armored bears, fierce and loyal Gyptians, to endearing daemons who are the reflections to a human soul, you’ll find something to love in each character. The only problem I had was the lack of depth the characters seem to have, asides from Lyra of course. While it was enjoyable to follow her plight to the North, I wish the other characters were written with more depth. I would have loved to know more background on Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel, and also more on Farder Coram and John Faa. I would have appreciated to have known where they originated and their intentions by the end of the book. Sure a couple of the characters’ persona were greatly revealed at the end of the book, but some were left hanging and I’m hoping they get more attention in the sequels.

On the other hand, the plot was very well written in my opinion. There have been countless discussions surrounding His Dark Materials and its subliminal messages about anti-Christianity or anti-organized religion for that matter. But you can definitely enjoy this book despite whatever faith you hold. The plot did get draggy in the first 200 pages but it picked up pretty quickly afterwards. We got to see Lyra quick and brilliant mind in saving the children from the North. We also got to see who (or what) these daemons really are and what they represent by the end of the book. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns that gripped my attention. And while some scenes were very short-lived, I believe there is much potential in this series for the sequel to make up for.

On a side note, the fact that this book has been reviewed many times for its religious (or anti-religious) themes have been fascinating. I’ve become a bit obsessed in reading reviews about the book and the movie adaptation from other readers, Christians and non-Christians alike. Though no Biblical scenes were explicitly written about in this book, a certain religious conversation at the end of the book will leave you thinking what the author is trying to present through his characters.

I was a bit surprised to discover that this book was written for children when it would have suited more matured readers with its deep embedded messages. But I assure you as children with much simpler minds, they will still be able to enjoy this book for its great cast of characters and the amazing plot. Asides from that, I leave it up to you to read more on the religious themes set within the book yourself.

But let me just say, when I figured out the roles of daemons, Dust and Lord Asriel in their connection to the entire plot, things got a whole lot more impressive.

“Human beings can’t see anything without wanting to destroy it. That’s original sin. And I’m going to destroy it. Death is going to die.” 

Overall, I enjoyed The Golden Compass. Though a lot of descriptions and draggy plots were involved, I believe it was necessary to build the world of parallels for the sequels to take place in.

Have you read this trilogy and what did you think about it?

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Thank you Penguin Random House Malaysia for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review!

A Love so Sharp and Cutting: a Review of Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

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Genre:
Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: September 5th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 384

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Blurb:
Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

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I was very excited upon receiving an ARC of Girls Made of Snow and Glass. I didn’t know much about it and there hasn’t been much reviews up when I got the book. But I have seen some excitement surrounding it and decided to go in blindly. I was aware that Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a Snow White retelling and while Snow White is my least favourite Disney princess, I was still excited to read this.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass brings us on a journey of two brilliant and strong female characters: Mina, the Whitespring Queen who happens to be Lynet’s stepmother. You’ll find similarities in Girls Made of Snow and Glass to Snow White. For example, references to mirrors and apples are frequently made. And the Hunstman that freed Snow White when he was supposed to kill her also makes and appearance. But unlike the originial story, he plays a much bigger role in this book.

“You’ll find something that’s yours alone. And when you do, don’t let anyone take it from you…”

I love how much depth Girls Made of Snow and Glass contained. I’ve always loved fairy tale retellings, because it allows us to think back on the definition of ‘evil’ and ‘wickedness’. The battle between good and bad has always been crystal clear in myths and fairy tales. But with retellings, you just never know who’s the real villain in the story.

And that is what’s so great about Girls Made of Snow and Glass. We get to see more of the evil stepmother and her roots before becoming Queen. What really happened to her that turned her into the heartless figure we’ve all known from Snow White? And is she really as evil as she’s made out to be?

All these questions gets answered in Girls Made of Snow and Glass on top of us getting more action from Lynet. She’s definitely the opposite of Snow White. She started out delicate, fragile and soft in the beginning, but her development throughout the book is just plain awesome.

I have so much love for these 2 characters. While most fantasy books have two women in power fighting each other, Girls Made of Snow and Glass shows us just how possible it is for 2 strong women to support and love one another. And their journey in achieving that trust and support was truly well written. This is one of the most feministic fantasy books I have ever read, and I admit we need more of this character positivity in the world. We need women everywhere to know that we should stand by each other, not tear one another apart for power.

On top of that, the ideology of true love and what it means gets addressed so well in this book. Mina who’s been chasing after love for so long will soon realise where true love resides and how Lynet plays a part in in it. Too often many of us believe that love only resides in relationships and Prince Charming. But Girls Made of Snow and Glass shows us that love can easily be found, if we see the beauty in each person instead of the bad.

“Weak or strong – she didn’t know what they meant anymore. Maybe they didn’t mean the same thing for everyone…”

Overall, a brilliant fairy tale retelling that will make you see the original story in a whole new light. With a brilliant new cast of characters and more magical scenes, Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a read not to be missed!

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review!

Epic Deception and Harsh Truths Revealed: a Review of The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

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Genre:
Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: February 28th, 2017 (originally published in Jan 24th 2006)
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 375

Series: The Queen’s Thief #3
#1: The Thief Review
#2: The Queen of Attolia Review

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Blurb:

By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.

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Warning: Spoilers if you haven’t read the previous 2 books in this series.

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“He whines, he complains, he ducks out of the most obvious responsibility. He is vain, petty and maddening, but he doesn’t ever quit.” – Ornon

Oh how wonderful it is to be reunited with Eugenides once more! Every time I read another book, my mind keeps wondering back at this series and wonder what Gen will be up to next.

Before I get on with my review, I should note that I won’t be giving lengthy reviews for the rest of the books in this series. I find each book brilliantly written so far and enjoye each one so much. That said, I wouldn’t want my readers to feel as if I’m gushing about the same thing in each review. So, I’ll focus on what’s different about each book and keep it short and sweet 🙂

Now, the one thing I absolutely love about this series is how there’s no major plot or cliffhanger. Sure there’s a war with the Mede Empire that’s on the verge of happening. But King of Attolia focuses more on its rich characters and plot revealing all the cunningness and deception which seems to be endless here. You may never know how the series is going to end, and that’s how the books keep on surprising you.

The King of Attolia brings us back to Attolia again, picking up from where we last saw Eugenides and Attolia, The King and Queen of Attolia. Newly married, we get an internal look from within the palace just how the people of Attolia is treating its new King. Where the previous books were told from Gen and Attolia/Eddis point of views, this time it’s told from a royal guard named Costis, who made the mistake of capturing Eugenide’s attention leading him into the court’s game of politics and deception.

And that has led to a whole load of interesting events, revelations, betrayals and the ultimate discovery of Eugenide’s brilliant mind. Will he be able to win over the favors of his court? King of Attolia has a lot to reveal.

“Sometimes, if you want to change a man’s mind, you have to change the mind of the man next to him first.” – Eugenides

The characters remain my favourite part of this series. Each character have its own unique personality that plays so well into how the story is played out. They don’t change much throughout the book, but then again they don’t need to because they’re adults with strong personalities and brilliant minds. It would be confusing and an offense to the book for them to start deviating from their true selves.

Eugenides is sarcastic and quick-minded as always. With his brilliant, cunning mind, we see from the point of view of Costis just how well Eugenides carry out his political machinations in order to build a reputation as King of Attolia. We see more of Attolia too, which is always a delight to read.  She has fast become one of the most solid characters despite her lack of dialogue in the books. There are also more description of her marriage to Eugenides and dare I say it: I have a new OTP in these two wonderful characters!

“The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead in the hollow of the queen’s shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day.”

You will learn to love Costis as well and all of his naivety and brilliant humor. His loyalty to the crown despite his hate for Eugenides paves the way for an interesting revelation of events that will influence his perception of the two royals. I hope to see more of Costis in the upcoming books.

Overall, another brilliant installment to the Queen’s Thief series. This series remains a top recommendation from me and I hope my feeble reviews convince you to further read the books in the series!

“He limped slowly over to his own wooden sword and stooped awkwardly to pick it up. Trailing it on the ground behind him, he limped toward the queen, and the courtyard quieted as he approached and was silent again as he dropped to his knees before her and laid the sword across her lap.
“My Queen,” he said.
“My King,” she said back.”

 

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An Epic Chinese Folklore Retelling: a Review of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F C Yee

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Genre:
Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication date: August 8th, 2017
Format: Kindle eBook
Source: Personal
Page Count: 320

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Blurb:

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.

Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s bodacious transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn.

This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

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The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is my book for #TheReadingQuest Challenge: A Book Based on a Myth

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The premise for this book drew me to reading it. That and the fact that I won a book in a giveaway and needed something based on a myth for #TheReadinQuest. Nevertheless, I have heard so many great things about this book.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is loosely based on the Chinese myth and folklore talkes of Sun Wukong the Monkey King and his journey with a group of magical beings in Journey to the West. I went into this book blind and found it a bit difficult to digest the stories since I’ve never been an audience to Chinese legend, nor have I watched cartoons based on them while growing up.

After a work colleague gave me a crash course on Sun Wukong and his magical staff, I found it a lot easier to understand the plot in this book. So a good tip would be to Google Sun Wukong and read a bit of description on what he’s about before reading this book. It’ll definitely help you appreciate the book more!

I love the main characters in this one; Genie and Quentin are the adorable duo set to fight off all the demons, or yaoguai as they’re known, recently released from Hell. And while Genie is preoccupied with her studies and getting into the Ivy Leagues, even though she’s only a sophomore damn her Asian-ness, she’s hardly in a position to say no when it comes to the safety of her family. She’s your typical Asian student with the slight oddity of being super tall. She has her flaws and insecurities, but they’re pretty minor in the book and I love her determination and hardheadedness for throwing a punch at anyone that pisses her off. I love me some badass female characters.

Quentin is this lovable geeky character who’s the total opposite of Genie. And of all the cliches in the world, they fall for each other. No surprise there. But his strong persona and by-the-book character makes him an interesting addition to the story. In this book, he is Sun Wukong himself who came back to Earth to find Genie and they plan to fight off the hundreds of demons. It was great to see how Quentin was reimagined in our society as Quentin Sun, despite having the few oddities of being a great mythical character.

The one of the two downsides of this book for me was its lack of details in the plot and supporting characters. I understand the fantastic duo have to fight around 108 demons and while they obviously didn’t do that in the length of a book, there was a lack of description surrounding their fights and battles with said demons.

Let’s face it, I’m a sucker for details. Not in excessive amounts, but just the right amount to allow me to appreciate the characters and their ordeals in dealing with challenges. How I felt while reading The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is that when a fighting scene comes up, it’s over in a page and a half. And I’m left wondering “What just happened? How did that end so fast??”. I understand how powerful these two characters are, but since I’m not familiar with the Chinese folklore tales, I’d have appreciated more descriptions of the demons’ features and powers. They all seemed generic to me: feast on human souls and tend to have ugly faces.

I would have loved a bit more backstory to Guanying and more scenes with Genie’s mom, Yunie and also Androu. I felt like they were sprinkled into the book to make it seem like Genie had a social life.

Asides from that, the Asian cliches had me cringing till no end! I understand the book is about bringing diversity to the YA reading pool, and while I’m glad YA is seeing more diverse characters, having a Chinese character who’s super smart, gets perfect grades and have parents who pressure her into getting the best university is a little bit too cliche for me. I’m Asian and I can’t really relate to Genie. Sure I studied hard and got good grades throughout school and college, but I know not all Asians are like this. And somehow in this book Genie gave off the vibe that every Asian in her school is just like her.

“So it’s true what they say huh?” asked Androu.
“What?” replied Genie.
“That Asian families aren’t affectionate?”

So here’s a shocking disclaimer for readers about to read this book: while the Chinese are Asians, not all Asians are Chinese!

Asides from these two shortcomings, I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more by the author. Who knows, with that ending in this book, there might even be a sequel? It’s definitely worth checking out The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. I truly enjoyed reading more about the Chinese folklores and mythical legends. They have such a variety of characters. And it’s a wonderful way to expose more diversity in the YA world!

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The Thief is Back: a Review of The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

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Genre:
Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: February 28th, 2017 (First published in 2000)
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 359

Series: The Queen’s Thief #2
#1 The Thief: Review

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Blurb:

The brilliant thief Eugenides has visited the Queen of Attolia’s palace one too many times, leaving small tokens and then departing unseen. When his final excursion does not go as planned, he is captured by the ruthless queen.

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The Queen of Attolia is my book for #TheReadingQuest Challenge: A Book Set in a Different World

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“I sometimes believe his lies are the truth, but I have never mistaken his truth for a lie.”  – Eddis

Queen of Attolia is the second book in The Queen’s Thief series. And with each page read, I fall in love with the world and characters that reside in it. I started off this book with high expectations for an entertaining read and looked forward to revisiting Eugenides charm and wit.

And I was not disappointed.

I love how the book starts off with Eugenides in Attolia on another mischievous quest. If I’m not mistaken, Queen of Attolia is set a few months after The Thief ended. Eugenides is cockier and more confident in his skills as the Queen’s Thief.

The sudden turn of events at the beginning of the story threw me off my tracks. I didn’t expect such a huge bender to occur so early on in the story. And that is what makes Turner such a brilliant fantasy writer. She gives us unexpected twists in her stories that leave us wanting more.

How does Queen of Attolia compare to The Thief? Well, the sequel has more political influences, and deaths, infused within the book compared to its predecessor. We’re introduced to more influential characters that will no doubt affect the rest of the series. The plot is more brilliantly done, and while you won’t feel a quest-sort-of journey occurring throughout the book, you will see how every event written will have a part to play at the ending and most probably, the way this series plays out.

And while I don’t read A Song of Ice and Fire nor do I watch Game of Thrones, I have a feeling that this series is the younger adult/milder version of it.

There’s just so many things at play on this brilliant stage. We see more of Eugenides vulnerability behind all that wit and charm. We get to see more of the two queens of Eddis and Attolia (and may I say female rulers are much more epic in the fantasy world) and how smart they are in planning their battles for power in their lands. The political strategies infused within the book got me a bit confused but once you get the hang of it, it’s a real pleasure to see how it impacted the ending.

“She thought of the hardness and the coldness she had cultivated over those years and wondered if they were the mask she wore or if the mask had become her self. If the longing inside her for kindness, for warmth, for compassion, was the last seed of hope for her, she didn’t know how to nurture it or if it could live.”  – Attolia

Never have I read a fantasy series so rich with drama, low-key plot twists and highly influential characters with the uncanny ability to deceive and negotiate their bargains of power. Queen of Attolia is so wonderfully written that I had half the mind to begin King of Attolia straight after finishing it. You might feel underwhelmed with its lack of plot, but trust me the writing and character influences will leave you wanting more from this series.I’m more and more convinced that adult fantasy are more of my taste and that YA Fantasy has run its course in my reading journey.

And if you’re not in for the slow plot, at least be in for the amazing dialogues that occur in the book.

“I’ll be your minister–”
“Of the exchequer? You’d rob me blind.”
“I would never steal from you,” he’d said hotly.
“Oh? Where is my tourmaline necklace? Where are my missing earrings?”
“That necklace was hideous. It was the only way to keep you from wearing it.”
“My earrings?”
“What earrings?”

Overall, I urge you to try this series out! I’m so exciting to read the remaining 3 books and I have a feeling I will love those too. Let me know if you’ve read the series!

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