Book Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

Goodreads: The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1)
Publisher: Tordotcom
Published: 24 March 2020
Genre: Adult SFF

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women.

A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

TL;DR: I started reading this thinking that it would go way over my head. I wasn’t connecting, I wasn’t understanding each time Rabbit would end a story and ask “Do you understand?” and I was kinda tempted to DNF. And then something clicked and as I continued reading and more things made sense, I listened to my urge to go back to the beginning to re-read what I didn’t understand at first… And then I got it and mind-blown. 🤯

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Book Review: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Goodreads: A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot #1)
Publisher: Tordotcom
Published: 13 July 2021
Genre: Adult SFF

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Centuries before, robots of Panga gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, wandered, en masse into the wilderness, never to be seen again. They faded into myth and urban legend.

Now the life of the tea monk who tells this story is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They will need to ask it a 
lot. Chambers’ series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter? 

I asked Jess @ Jessticulates to buddy read this with me so I would actually pick this book up. I’m so glad that I finally read my first Becky Chambers book because the hype is real, friends!

TL;DR: It took no more than one chapter for me to realise just how much I would enjoy this book. The characters rapidly grew on me and the story was a soothing read that asked questions that really hit a mark with me. I followed along with parts of the book with the audio, which I would also recommend, and I have a feeling I’ll return to this book often when I’m craving a comforting read.

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Book Review: The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Goodreads: The Deep
Publisher: Saga Press
Published: 05 November 2019
Genre: Adult SFF

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future,” The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting.

TL;DR: This was a stunning little novella that packs a punch for how short it is. Through this fantastical world, Solomon does an incredible job exploring intergenerational trauma, the impact of shared memories and identity. While this might be a sombre read it’s written in a way that’s not oppressive or heavy and I could’ve read so much more of the lore, the setting and the characters. This was definitely a unique read that I think will churn through my mind for days to come and I can’t wait to read more of what Solomon has written! I would also highly recommend the audiobook because Daveed Diggs’ narration really helped to give this story life.

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Mini ‘Friends-to-Lovers’ Reviews: Guarding Temptation & Pact With A Heartbreaker

Goodreads: Guarding Temptation
Publisher: Nixon House
Published: 22 April 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:


Protective. Obsessive. And rough around the edges.

James Foster knows the rules: you don’t fall for your best friend’s little sister. Nina is too young, too reckless, and too busy saving the world to be tied down by the commitment he craves.
If he was smart, he’d stop wanting her. But she’s the one thing on earth James just can’t quit.

Fierce. Principled. And impossible to resist.

Political campaigner Nina Chapman is sick of one-time things. She wants forever, and she wants it with her brother’s best friend—but James still sees her as a child to be coddled.
So when a controversial article lands Nina in hot water, she finds herself under his protection and under his roof. It’s a shame James doesn’t want her in his bed, too.
…Or does he?

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