The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang #tlcbooktours

 

 

The Dragon Republic picks up where The Poppy War ends and the reader is thrown right back into the war zone.

(I’m trying to keep any spoilers for the first book out of this post, so please bear with me).

The Poppy War was, for me, an amazing read. For too long, much of the speculative fiction I read didn’t reflect myself or my culture, so to read this very Asian dark fantasy novel, it blew my mind. It made me think of all those (somewhat cheesy) myth-based Chinese TV series I grew up watching as a kid in Singapore – Journey to the West, Nezha – and all those Chinese movies like Red Cliff, Three Kingdoms, that my Dad watched.

So I definitely was excited to get my hands on the second book, The Dragon Republic. And it was just as awesome.

The focus here is very much on Rin, as she comes to terms with her actions in the first book. It’s still very much dark and war-centric (there are navy battles!) but the pace is less back-breaking than the first.

And Rin, well, she’s still Rin. She’s headstrong and determined. She makes horrible choices sometimes and terrible things happen to her. But that’s what makes her human, despite having a god’s powers. This second book is very much her story. It feels a little like the other characters are sidelined, and I was a bit disappointed with that, especially as the rest of the Cike don’t play much of a part.

Sometimes second books can be a big letdown and this one was absolutely not one of those. The Dragon Republic was exciting and complex, it was full of energy and passion and all kinds of darkness, and it kept me in good company on a 16-hour plane ride to Singapore.

 

 

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and

publisher Harper Voyage for sending me a copy of this book.

Check out the rest of the stops on the tour

Grab yourself a copy of this book: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 
Find out more about author RF Kuang: WebsiteTwitter, and Instagram
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The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney #TLCBookTours

 

 

 

 

 

Think Grumpy Old Men. In a nursing home.

Well, at least one of the old men is grumpy.

And that is Joel Monroe, who is in his 70s and held ‘prisoner’ at Hilltop Nursing Home. His roommate Miller, who has been in a coma, dies, and Joel, still grieving for his wife, whose bed Miller had taken over, is overcome with grief.

It doesn’t help that the nursing home has stuck him with Frank de Selby, a former soap opera actor who is full of questions, rather flamboyant and optimistic. Joel is determined not to like this new roommate but once he gets to know the real de Selby (real name Frank Adams), he realises that while they are very different people, he quite likes Frank.

Frank shares that his family has left him alone after learning that he’s gay. Joel reveals that he has been thinking of killing himself.

Sharing secrets and escaping the nursing home to get a pint in a bar and these two roommates become great friends, the kind that seem as if they’ve known each other forever.

I loved how different the two men were from each other. And how they learnt from each other and grew, in their own way.

The Great Unexpected is a charming and amusing read, a poignant tale of friendship and ageing.

 

For more information about Dan Mooney and the book, check our his author website, like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, look at the book’s Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

 

Thanks to  TLC Book Tours and publisher Park Row Books for sending me a copy of this book.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep

I usually prefer to describe the book in my own words but this one is tricky. It is a busy, complex world with societies that have been divided because of their beliefs. But essentially there is a Big Bad and it has been in exile for a thousand years, and guess what, those thousand years are now ending.

But before we get to all of that there is so much of this wonderful world-building to explore. And I feel like you really need to enjoy discovering and wandering through all the author’s worldbuilding when it comes to this book. It does take a while to build up, it does take a while for things to happen and at 848 pages, this is quite an investment. Don’t get discouraged though, because once the pieces begin to fall into place it is glorious.

I’m trying not to spoil anything for anyone here so bullet points to the rescue. Here’s what I loved about this book:

  • women-centred
  • there are dragons and dragon-riders!
  • (but also societies that fear and hate dragons)
  • magic
  • some politicking and power play
  • it’s a standalone, so no need to be desperately waiting for the sequel

Here’s some things that I didn’t like so much:

  • The Big Bad felt a bit like evil for evil’s sake. There didn’t seem to be much of a concrete explanation for what it’s doing
  • It is very long and takes a while to get going. Not everyone has the kind of patience required for a book like this. Perhaps if this wasn’t a library ebook maybe I wouldn’t have read it so fast – the Libby app is especially good at alerting one to the fact that “xx people are waiting” for this book. Which meant that when my time with the book was up, I’d have to put it on hold and wait again. So of course I’m going to finish reading it before that nonsense happens!

Sadie by Courtney Summers

This was a case of loving the cover art and not knowing much about the book – although of course it was a high likelihood of the story being about a young girl named Sadie.

And it turns out to be a book in a slightly less than usual format – a podcast. Now I’m not much of a podcast listener so I’m not entirely familiar with them but a friend did rave about the Serial podcast and explain a bit about it (but I still haven’t heard it) but the book’s synopsis does actually describe the podcast as “Serial-like” so at least I could pretend to know what it’s referencing.

Anyway the moment I got into the book, I realized I went about this the wrong way and should have tried out the audiobook instead. I don’t tend to listen to fiction audiobooks but this story seems like it was meant for that format.

Sadie is 19, and she goes missing after her younger sister, Mattie, is found dead. The police never found out who killed her but Sadie thinks she knows and is out to find him. She too was abused by this man.

And perhaps this may sound like more than one other story about girls gone missing but the author’s clever device is putting half of the narrative in the form of the podcast. One where West McCray devotes his show to finding Sadie. He talks to those who know her, trace her steps and while the reader already knows plenty via Sadie’s narrative, the podcast reveals more about Sadie’s family than what we see through her young, angry perspective. So what I thought at first as gimmicky turned out to be rather clever.

This book is a dark one. Not just because of the death of a young girl and the unknown whereabouts of another, but also because of the poverty, abuse, addiction that surrounds the lives of so many.

A quick read, Sadie is suspenseful and moving. This is the first book from Summers that I’ve read but now I’d love to read more.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

 

This is one of those books that I’ve let pass by for quite a while.

It was first published in 2012 and there was been plenty of talk about it and I had it on my TBR list but never picked it up.

It was a heatwave that made me borrow it.

39C or 102F!

And that is the kind of weather where you just have to stay indoors, turn on the AC, drink tons of ice water, and turn on the TV for the kids because it is just too hot to be outside.

So I was craving a book full of cold, full of ice and snow. A story where a scarf and hat and gloves and boots need to be pulled on, over layers of clothing. A story of freezing temperatures and the quiet, the stillness of winter. For summer is LOUD. The birds are up so early and they are chattering away all the time. The sun is blazing before 8am. Fans and air-conditioning units are whipping up the air. Summer is a noisy time. As you might be able to guess, summer is not my favourite.

And The Snow Child was just what these unbearably hot few days needed.

“November was here, and it frightened her because she knew what it brought – cold upon the valley like a coming death, glacial wind through the cracks between the cabin logs. But most of all, darkness. Darkness so complete even the pale-lit hours would be choked.”

Although it took a few chapters for snow to actually arrive. And at last, there it is…

“The first flakes clumped together as they twirled and fluttered to the ground. First just a few here and there, and then the air was filled with falling snow, caught in the light of the window in dreamy swirls.”

Jack and Mabel are struggling in the Alaskan wilderness. After a long summer and autumn, the land was barely cleared, they only got one little potato harvest, and Mabel makes pies to sell in town to help out.

And when the snow falls, they decide to make a snowman. A little snow girl.

The snow child disappears the next morning but they catch glimpses of a girl, no more than 8 or 9, with white-blond hair, who seems to be living in the forest. Is she a lost child? Or could she be like that snow child in the Russian fairytale Mabel remembers, the one a childless couple makes, but in every version, the story doesn’t end well, with the girl always melting.

The girl, as Jack and Mabel learn, is named Faina. She flits between the woods and the little cabin, dancing in and out of their lives, bringing a new spark to their relationship. But we are never quite sure if she is imaginary or not.

It’s a strange and mesmerizing tale, something that hovers between fairytale and reality.

If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim

A moving, accomplished debut.

At its heart is a love triangle. There is Haemi, 16. The war has forced her, her mother and sickly younger brother, out of their village and into a refugee camp. There is Kyunghwan. They sneak out together late nights on his bicycle, looking for makgeolli to get drunk with. Jisoo is Kyunghwan’s cousin, he’s more well-off than Kyunghwan and wants to marry Haemi before he enlists.

Haemi eventually marries him, as she feels Jisoo is the best way to ensure that her family is secure, but her decision to forsake Kyunghwan continues to affect her – and her family – through the years.

I loved how Kim effortlessly weaves historical events through the story – the aftermath of the Korean War.

Haemi’s story continues to echo in my head even after finishing the book. She’s not an easy character to like as she struggles to accept this life that she chose. But I appreciate that Kim doesn’t turn her life into a bright shiny happy one and instead leaves the reader wondering, would she really be happier if she had chosen otherwise?

If you’ve read some of my book thoughts on my blog/Instagram, you may know that I’m always interested in books that feature food and If You Leave Me will make you hungry for Korean food. While I do love eating at Korean restaurants, I learnt a lot about Korean food that aren’t found in Korean restaurants here, such as steamed silkworm pupae, hotteok (a sweet pancake with brown sugar and walnuts), tea made with persimmon leaves.

#AsianLitBingo 2019 Wrap-up!

 

I had a fun time reading books for this challenge

 

Here is what I read:

Edinburgh by Alexander Chee LGBTQIAP+ Asian MC #ownvoices

Emergency Contact by Mary H K ChoiRomance with POC love interest #ownvoices

River of Stars by Vanessa Hua Asian Immigrant MC #ownvoices

Not Your Sidekick by CB LeeAsian superhero MC #ownvoices

My Brother’s Husband Vol 2 by Gengoroh TagameGraphic novel with Asian MC #ownvoices

Bad Friends by Ancco  – Poor or working class MC #ownvoices

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay South Asian MC #ownvoices

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo East Asian MC #ownvoices