The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

How would you react if your father asked you to become a ghost bride? Would you agree if it meant a future of prosperity

This would have to be listed as one of my favourite reads for 2017!!!

Though ruled by British overlords in Colonial Malaya, the Chinese Malayans hold ancient customs, values and superstitions close to heart. Set in the sleepy port town of Malacca, this takes us back to the 1880’s and follows the story of Li Lan, our female protagonist and the daughter of a genteel yet bankrupt family with few prospects. Li Lan receives an unusual proposal from a wealthy and influential family – the Lims – who propose she become a ghost bride for their late and only son who recently died under mysterious circumstances. An ancient custom, becoming a ghost bride was said to placate a restless spirit and guarantee prosperity for the bride – but what happens when this restless spirit starts to haunt the potential ghost bride? What happens when rather than following regular protocols to rid a restless spirit from the human world, Li Lan embarks on a journey that leads her to a peculiar supernatural cross over.

Exploring old Malayan folklore, superstitions and intertwining of Malaysian culture with true historical events – this haunting, dark yet fascinating tale kept me turning the page to the very end! I was captivated from the first chapter and I strongly recommend this to fans of Frances Watts’ “The Peony Lantern”

Many thanks to Allen and Unwin Publishers who gave a copy to me as a prize for a competition I won.

This is one great book!!!

-Annie

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Because you Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy Edited by Ameriie

An awesomely unique compilation of 13 short stories written by brilliant authors from around the world and collaborated with influential booktubers.

I say this is unique as these short stories are from the perspective of misunderstood villains and are written by fantastic authors as challenged by influential booktubers. What I enjoyed most about this book was the short stories that were entertaining as well as the short pieces written by the book tubers when they challenged the authors to write a short story on various themes. The pieces were that good, I can see these booktubers publishing their own books one day. This was one anthology I struggled to pin point a favourite as they were all pretty good, I also found it interesting to see a villain’s perspective as it gives you an idea as to why they were ‘tipped over the edge’ and moved over to the dark side. I would highly recommend this to fans of YA or if any of the noted authors are your ‘autobuy’ author, they wont disappoint in this fabulous compilation. Once again, I didn’t read this from beginning to end – I bounced around various authors starting with my favourites (lol). It’s quite different and a lot of fun to read!!

Edited by international popstar, now writer, Ameriie, the authors who teamed up for this compilation feature: Renee Ahdieh, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon. The Booktubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zo Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel).

Special thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Annie

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods by Craig Phillips

A fantastic collection of diverse myths and legends from around the world – from Iceland to Poland to Japan, altogether in one graphic novel!!!

Tales include a cobbler girl tricks the Wawel Dragon, after all the king’s knights fail… The Polar Bear King loses his skin… Momotaro, born from a peach, defies the ogres everyone else is too scared to face… Snow White and Rose Red make friends with a bear…

This collection contains 10 tales and are retold as comics that includes adventures with giants, trolls, witches and beasts!!!

The art work is simply amazing, the legends and folktales are so exciting!! It’s one a graphic novel you would read over and over again and keep for collection. This is something I recommend to readers young and old alike who, like me, love myth and legend. I also recommend this for kids storytime – where parents can read to the children. It is pretty easy to follow however some themes may require parental guidance – the artwork is extremely details – such a visual feast!!!

Many thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Annie

Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson

Dragonkeeper is the first book of a series that is set to be released as a big budget feature film animation!!!!

Dragonkeeper: The Book
Set in Ancient China (Han Dynasty), this story is about a slave girl who saves the life of an ageing dragon and escapes her brutal master. An adventurous read that can be enjoyed by children as young as 8 years old and even among adults such as myself, I find this to be a great family friendly read. The adventure continues as the slave girl and the dragon are pursued by a ruthless dragon hunter and they begin an epic journey across China full of magical and wondrous adventure, meanwhile carrying a mysterious stone that must be protected.

What I loved most about this book is the references to Chinese Mythology and a girl who defies her brutal master and does not accept life the way it is – she breaks down the barriers and finds strength within herself to make this perilous journey which I believe is sending a positive message to girls. Not to mention the adventure is a lot of fun!!

Dragonkeeper: The Movie
The movie is being produced by Dragoia Media, Movistar+, Atresmedia Cine and China Film Animation – a member of China Film Group which is the largest and most influential state owned film company in China.

The script has been written by Ignacio Ferreras, Rosanna Checchini, Pablo Castrillo, Carole Wilkinson (author of Dragonkeeper) and Xiamping Wang.

The film will be directed by Ignacio Ferraras and co-ordinated by Zhang Bo.

Scheduled for release: late 2019/early 2020.

Many thanks to Walker Books for providing me with an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Eon by Alison Goodman

“I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept but I cannot live any other way.” – Lady Dela in Eon

5 stars!

Sensational, epic writing and an unforgettable story about a heroine with a desperate secret…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eon, it’s filled with political intrigue, plot gripping action and a deeper, darker story than I expected. To become a Dragon apprentice, Eon must win the annual dragon contest to prove her worth against other candidates in hopes of being chosen by the elusive and mysterious Rat Dragon and to commune with its power; problem is, Eon is a girl disguised as a boy (women aren’t meant to see dragons)…

What I really liked about this book is the exploration of diversity – in particular the diversity of characters such as Lady Dela, Eon, Ryko and Chart, which is rare in fantasy YA novels. Even though our main character has a physical disability, I liked how her strength is represented in other ways such as her capabilities, inner strength, courage and compassion. I also liked how Lady Dela is man dressed as a woman which directly contrasts with Eon who is a girl pretending to be a boy, and showing how such differences are celebrated in one culture but dangerous in another; the contrast between living authentically and living in a lie. Eon for me is a story about identity, of being truthful to oneself, of friendship, loyalty, compassion and courage to overcome adversity and betrayal. I also enjoyed reading about dragons with powers that can shift monsoons, magical world building that’s inspired by myth and legends of Ancient China. I loved the imagination and the fast paced plot which kept me reading through the night. I highly recommend this great read! This is a YA novel that can also be enjoyed by adults. I want to thank author Alison Goodman for coming to our exclusive high tea and telling us about Eon and Eona. I’m proud to have the duology as part of my book collection.

Other intriguing quotes from the book:

“‘And what do you say Lord Eon? Does the acceptance of foreigners into our land dilute our magnificent culture?’…I groped for the only thing I had: experience. ‘I like the coffee that Ari the Foreigner sells in the market, Your Majesty…I do not know about diluting our culture. It is just a drink and he is just a man who sells it.’”

‘“I do not wear men’s clothing because I am a woman in here,’ she touched her head, ‘and there,’ she touched her heart. ‘You are wrong when you say there is no power in being a woman. When I think of my mother and the women in my tribe, and even the hidden women in the harem. I know there are many types of power in this world.’ She turned around to face me. ‘I found power is in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept but I cannot live any other way. How would it be to live a lie every minute of your life? I don’t think I could do it.

– NJ

Click here to read the book blurb on Goodreads

Serpentine by Cindy Pon

A great read I rate 4 stars!!! 

An interesting read that re-tells the ancient Chinese legend of Serpentine! Skybright is a handmaid for Zhen Ni who is like a sister to her and all their lives they shared secrets and did everything together until Skybright goes through a night of self discovery that turns her life upside down... When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time..

A sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.. Very well written story of coming of age and a read full of adventure, mystery and a hint of romance!!

Great read recommended for YA and Urban Fantasy fans!!

-Annie

Soundless by Richelle Mead

– 5 STAR READ –

Highly anticipated book I waited all 2015 for and it did not disappoint!!

This book tells the story from Fei’s perspective, a young girl who grows up in a 3 tier village of deaf dwellers.. There are only 3 tiers you can be part of: an artist if you’re deaf but talented, a miner if you’re deaf but not talented with patchy vision or a beggar if you’re deaf and blind..

This village works everyday to please the line keeper in exchange for food however this all starts to change
when Fei suddenly regains her hearing and it’s up to her learn her villages history to unlock a dark secret that can save her village..

I thoroughly enjoyed this book it was like reading an Asian folktale, so beautifully written, so creative and a real page turner… I highly recommend it!!!

-Annie