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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ARC Review: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Special thanks to Clarion Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Ivory Key (The Ivory Key Duology #1)
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publish Date: 04 January 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good. 

TL;DR: My journey reading this was quite an experience! Although it was a bit of a rough first half, I ended up enjoying this Indian-inspired fantasy and the characters plus the strong focus on family and sibling relationships. We get several POVs but the author does a great job in creating distinct voices for each sibling. The second half was so full of Indian Jones-style mystery adventure and I sped through it so quickly! With the surprising twists and baby-cliffhanger ending, I’m excited to know what happens next and how this duology concludes.

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First Lines Friday – 13 May 2022

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“The myths of my people say only a true bride of the Sea God can bring an end to his insatiable wrath. When the otherworldly storms rise from the East Sea, lightning breaking the sky and waters ripping up the shore, a bride is chosen and given to the Sea God.
Or sacrificed, depending on the measure of your faith.”

Do you recognise the book these first lines come from?

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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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#TopTenTuesday: One-Word Reviews For My Last 10 Reads

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week is actually a freebie and so I decided to do a topic that I don’t think I’ve done before: One-Word Reviews for the Last Ten Books I Read (submitted by Susan @ Bloggin’ ’bout Books)

I was pretty excited to see this week’s topic because I thought it’d be a fun challenge for someone that’s as wordy as I am! 😂 I have to admit that it was tougher than I expected to find the right review word for some of these but I think I’m happy with what I’ve got now. I’m gonna keep this intro short and sweet and I’ll dive right into it!

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#TopTenTuesday: Diamond Birthstone Colour Covers!

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week is actually a freebie and so I decided to do a topic that I don’t think I’ve done before: Books with [Diamond Birthstone Colour] On the Cover (Pick a thing (a color, an item, a place, an animal, a scripty font, a sexy person, etc.) and share covers that have that thing on the cover.)

Since this week’s topic is somewhat of a cover “freebie” I decided to combine The Birthstone Book Covers series created by one of my favourite bloggers and perhaps my closest blogger friend, Leslie @Books are the New Black. This is a series she created at the start of the year and so far, I haven’t had the chance to jump on it, until now! This series was born out of Leslie’s curiosity about birthstone colours and it’s a fun way to show different book covers/titles corresponding to that month’s birthstone colour.

April’s birthstone is the diamond and I could’ve kept it simple for myself and stuck to white covers but for some reason whenever I think of a diamond I think of shades of silver/grey? So I tried to find cover colours that I thought matched that shade and ngl, it was a bit of a struggle! 😂 They’re not perfect matches but I did come up with a list of ten and it’s a mix of books I’ve read and books on my TBR. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

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#TopTenTuesday: Gimme All the Sprayed Edges!

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week is actually a freebie and so I decided to do a topic that I don’t think I’ve done before: Bookish Merchandise I’d Love to Own but I wasn’t really vibing with the topic so I decided to put a spin and look at Beautiful Books I’d Love to Own!

Over the last year or so I’ve slowed down on purchasing any old physical book and have taken as many opportunities as I can to get my hands on beautiful special edition books! I’m definitely lucky to be able to afford these special editions when international shipping charges are often heartbreakingly high but I work hard to indulge in my love for books so, why not?! But I digress… I don’t know about you but I’m not just a sucker for gorgeous book covers but I’m wild for all the stunning sprayed edges, too! 😍

Here are a few that I would *love* to get my hands on plus the shops that they come from, y’know, just in case you feel like indulging too! 😉

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Blog Tour Review: Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Sofi and the Bone Song
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: 19 April 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

In this gorgeous, queer standalone fantasy, a young musician sets out to expose her rival for illegal use of magic only to discover the deception goes deeper than she could have imagined—perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens!

Music runs in Sofi’s blood.
Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art.

Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges.
Almost like magic.

The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy.

As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.

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Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Goodreads: Gods of Jade and Shadow
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Published: 23 July 2019
Genre: Adult Historical Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

I buddy read this with Leslie @Books Are the New Black and although it started out rocky for the both of us, we ended up really enjoying the story. The angst really sent us! 😂


CHECK OUT LESLIE’S REVIEW!


TL;DR: The moment I finished this book I immediately re-read the last few chapters of the book three times throughout the day. To say this ending had me in a chokehold would be an understatement! If you love stories rich in mythology, culture and history, fantastical adventures, and a classic swoonworthy and achingly angsty romance, I would definitely recommend giving this a try! This was my first book by Moreno-Garcia and I’m sure it won’t be my last!

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#TopTenTuesday: New-to-Me Authors On My TBR

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week is actually a freebie and so I decided to do a topic that I don’t think I’ve done before: Authors I Haven’t Read, But Want To (Submitted by Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse)!

There are so many books and not enough time for me to read them all so I have *plenty* of authors to choose from for this week’s topic! I would stick to one genre but instead, I’ve decided to include authors from all the genres as there are truly so many that I haven’t read but can’t wait to read from maybe even this year! There’s absolutely no order to this list but these are the first ten that came to mind. 🤣

Continue reading “#TopTenTuesday: New-to-Me Authors On My TBR”