The Poppy War by R.F Kuang with exclusive mini Q&A

I had the pleasure of engaging in a read along with 2 of my dear friends, Tien of Tien’s Blurb and Maisie of SleepyWiredStudios it was one of the most engaging and engrossing reads I had read in some time, so much so, I suffered a book hangover after reading this book!!!

The Poppy War
Our protagonist is Rin – a war orphan who dwells in the lower socio-economic part of the Empire with a family who is the head of a notorious Opium Trade and believed they’d finally be able to marry Rin off to further their criminal enterprise. However, when Rin aces the Keju (the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to attend elite academies), it was a shock to everyone as it was unheard of for a war orphan from Rooster Province to blitz the test without cheating and a shock to Rin herself, who realised she was finally free of the life dictated to her.  What an amazing surprise that she got into Sinegard: the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising… but surprises aren’t always good… Given Rin’s stature, her time at Sinegard is not a walk in the park as she is singled out and targeted due to her socio-economic status, colour and gender yet before long, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power: an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Rin continues exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a well known yet seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances. As Rin learns of her new found power and that myths are very much real, the Nikara Empire was at peace until it is learnt that a third Poppy War is close at hand….

My Thoughts
This is definitely another book love for 2018, a book that consumed me so much I experienced a book hangover. I had the privilege of doing a read along with 2 of my girlfriends and we were all so mesmerised with the story line. From start to finish, I was engrossed in the plot and what becomes of the main character we follow, Rin. I loved the character development as we learn about her life as an orphan girl then forced into a family who is involved in an Opium trade and her determination to escape the life dictated to her to a life she wants of her own – the journey she takes, the torment she endured and her self discoveries really kept me turning the page!! In addition to Rin, I also loved all the characters that we follow in this story. Whether good or bad – each character was written extremely well and what I enjoyed was regardless of one’s strengths – there was a vulnerability which made it real..

CONTENT WARNING: Yes I should note, this book does come with a content warning as it covers Warfare and the author does not at all sugarcoat it from battle to Prisoner of War (PoW) treatment to torture. It is quite graphic, however I feel the author did a great job in writing these parts as once again, she kept it real despite the world we are reading. Although parts were not easy to read, I realise they would not have been easy to write, but these parts were written so well nonetheless. I had numerous emotional reactions throughout the book: gasping, laughing, cringing, anger – there’s even a part that was a bit of a tearjerker..

I loved this book so much, I loved the characters.. this is not a book I will forget in a hurry!!!

Special thanks to Harper Voyager for sending me a review copy of this book.

 

Mini Q&A with author R.F Kuang

This question is from Maisie: Rin is the main character we follow in this story however we come to meet some wonderful and very unlikeable characters in “The Poppy War” is there a particular character you enjoyed writing more than the other?
I love writing Jiang the most! He’s hilarious and he gets to do whatever he wants. Ramsa was fun too; I’m excited to expand his role in the sequel. 
This question is from Tien: I’ve been searching everywhere for the name of this series but I cannot see it anywhere – is there a name for this series and how many installments could we expect?
It’s The Poppy Wars Trilogy.  
I was curious to know your inspiration behind Rin’s background (like her back story from being an orphan girl to her transition to Sinegard) and inspiration for the militia academy.
Rin’s character arc is almost entirely based on the biography of Mao Zedong. 
How long did it take for you to write “The Poppy War” how different is the finished product from your original draft/idea?
It took me about three months to write the first draft that I sent out on queries. After I got an agent, we revised for two more months before putting it out on submission. Once I signed with Harper, we put it through three more revision stages–mostly final touch-ups at that point. The finished novel is quite close to what I wrote originally. Most of the revision work was to fix continuity problems and pacing issues. 
Outside of writing now: when you’re not writing/reading, what are your hobbies and interests?
Honestly, between schoolwork and writing, I don’t have time for much else. I read a lot–maybe a book every two or three days. 
R.F Kuang also said: “I am often asked about the historical atrocities and inspirations in Act 3, and it is bit difficult for me to have to discuss family trauma over and over. I’ve written two essays on the subject that I always link to interviewers”
-Annie
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Scythe (Arc of a Scythe: Book 1) by Neal Shusterman

Thou shalt kill

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

This book is amazingly good! One of my favourite 2018 YA sci-fi read! Imagine a world where we’re so advanced that we cheated death and are immortal but in order to control the population growth, people have to be randomly killed off. The only people with that privilege to kill or grant immunity from death is if you’re a scythe. Therefore being a Scythe is both revered and feared.

This is a jam packed action book following two teenagers Citra and Rowan who became scythe apprentices, they must learning the art of killing but before all that they must learn to understand humanity, morals and humility. There’s politics, friendships and love on the line, and a deadly political competition to determine who will become the new Scythe and who will be gleaned. It’s a morbidly fascinating fast pace read with lots of plot twists. It’s so different to what I had expected!!!

I am now reading the sequel – keep an eye out for it!!

Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me review copies of these books
-NJ

The Rise of the Dawnstar by Farah Oomerbhoy

Aurora Firedrake returns in the spellbinding sequel to The Last of the Firedrakes.

The seven kingdoms of Avalonia are crumbling and evil is spreading across the land like a plague. Queen Morgana is close to finding a way to open The Book of Abraxas and it’s only a matter of time until she uses the power trapped inside its pages to enslave the entire world.

BLOODY CLIFFHANGERS!!!

I’m currently using my inside voice as I scream into my pillow over this cliffhanger!!

I am also searching one handed through my books trying to find the next book until I realised that book three has not yet been released (now I am crying into my pillow because I want to know what happens next).

The characters grow and follow the path of getting slightly wiser, as we follow Aurora along, she meets new people, family and comes into her power.

I need the next book!!!

-Meredith

Whisper by Lynette Noni

“Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people,” they told me.

“I believed them. That was my mistake… There isn’t anyone else in the world like me… I’m different. I’m an anomaly, I’m a monster…”

For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four a.k.a ‘Jane Doe’ has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word…

Imagine if you had an ability (or curse) where every time you spoke, something bad happens? Meet Jane Doe.. she has been locked up in a secret security facility for about 2 years and hasn’t spoken a word at all.. Why is she there? What is this all about? What has she done?

What I found with this book and what I liked most was different it was from the author’s previous works – the author really set this book apart from the Medoran Chronicles as it’s really quite a unique concept. Even with a detailed beginning, I came to know the characters pretty quickly and modest plot development kept me turning the page. Although my head was filled with so many unanswered questions, I also enjoyed some nice surprises along the way!! It really does keep you guessing and that’s what I enjoyed about this book.

I would say if you enjoyed Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi or Everlife by Gena Showalter, you may enjoy this one. Special thanks to Pantera Press for sending me a review copy of this book.

Keep an eye out at your local bookstores – this awesome book will be hitting the shelves very soon!!!
-Annie

 I was biting my lower lip while I was finishing Whisper on the train, so I wouldn’t squeal, curse (under my breath) or start muttering to myself (No don’t go down there…). I couldn’t believe that I left Whisper at work over the weekend (sniffles, wipes away a tear).

My hands are itching for the second book. There is a second book, right?????

Whisper reminds the reader that words have power. Words are used for comments, expressions, malice intentions, and healing. Just to mention what can happen with a few well placed words…
-Meredith

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Although Nahri can wield power, she has never believed in magic and on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent – the ability to swindle Ottoman nobles under the guise of palm readings, healings but when Nahri accidentally summons a djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. Behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, old resentments are simmering and when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal.

This is my 2018 book love!!! From start to finish, I absolutely loved this book, I really enjoyed the incredible, magical, fast paced world building as well as the dialogue between the characters we come to meet throughout the story. I also loved the historical aspects of the book and the accurate referencing to King Sulaiman, Djinn (or Daeva), The Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Turkey. With it, the developing story line kept me on the edge of my seat and a few times I thought I managed to predict what will happen next – I was wrong. I also found with this book that it was one of those books I wanted to immerse myself in so much that I took my time to read it – and by the time I got to the end of the story, I just had to pay it a moment of silence before I could go on. Every chapter I was reading, there was something happening, I also loved how well defined the characters were and how each character made you question your loyalty in the book (whose side are you on in this new, political world).

An historical/urban fantasy suitable to older YA and adult readers – a story full of magic, intrigue and mystery, I give this under-hyped debut novel a 10/10 and I really can’t wait for the next instalment!!!

Publisher: Harper Voyager

-Annie

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi Blog Tour

They killed my mother.

They took our magic.

They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy…

One fantastic way to start 2018, read an advanced copy of this book and it was morbidly fascinating and simply “unputdownable” A book that leaves you with goosebumps – wide eyed – gasping. For fans of Sabaa Tahir and Sarah J. Maas..

PICK THIS BOOK UP TODAY!!!!

The Maji Clans
  • Iku Clan: Maji of Life and Death, called Reapers
  • Émi Clan: Maji of Mind, Spirit, and Dreams, called Connectors
  • Omi Clan: Maji of Water, called Tiders
  • Iná Clan: Maji of of Fire, called Burners
  • Afêfê Clan: Maji of Air, called Winders
  • Aiye Clan: Maji of Iron and Earth, called Grounders + Welders
  • Ina Clan: Maji of Darkness and Light, called Lighters
  • Iwosan Clan: Maji of Health and Disease, called Healer + Cancer
  • Aríran Clan: Maji of Time, called Seers
  • Eranko Clan: Maji of Animals, called Tamers
Connect with the author: Tomi Adeyemi
tomiadeyemi.com
Follow the Hashtag: #NowWeRise #ChildrenOfBloodAndBone
It would appear with my birth month + birth date, I am part of the Ina Clan with the lighter magical power – the ability to manipulate light and darkness…
Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for having me on board as part of this Blog Tour.
-Annie

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

THE FINAL BATTLE TO AN EPIC TRILOGY!!!

Once, in the desert country of Miraji, there was a Sultan without an heir. The heir had been killed by his own brother, the treacherous Rebel Prince, who was consumed by jealousy and sought the throne for himself. Or so it was said by some. There were others who said that the Rebel Prince was not a traitor but a hero… In the final battle for the throne, Amani must fight for everything she believes in… who will triumph???

First of all.. I love Jin.. This was a great conclusion to one of my all-time favourite trilogies. Just as great as the first instalment, Rebel of the Sands and the second instalment, Traitor to the Throne this story really took me back to the desert and my love for the Arabian nights tales and stories of djinn, battle and magic. Following on from “Traitor to the Throne” it picked up nicely, even a year later, it brings back memories of the first 2 stories and I was able to immerse myself so quickly into this book. Although parts of the story slowed down to gear us up for something significant – like the final show down – it was still fast paced and there was always something happening in each chapter, parts even made me ‘wide eyed’. This final instalment, this final battle for the throne, was a stunning conclusion that gave me closure on the characters I came to care about, it tied it up so neatly we know of each character’s destinations in the end and it also answers that compelling yet dreadful question – who will survive and who will die? I am so sad this series is over, I thoroughly enjoyed all three books!!!

Hint hint, nudge nudge to the author: I would LOVE to read a Novella about Jin or Ahmad *wink*

Special thanks to Allen & Unwin publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy.
-Annie