Snow, Fire, Sword by Sophie Masson

An amazing YA urban fantasy that is set on the backdrop of mythological Indonesia!!! A race against time to the very heart of an explosive secret… the truth about Snow, Fire and Sword. Dewi has never ventured beyond her village in the highlands of Jayangan, where she lives a comfortable life with her father, the respected village healer. But one day while working in the rice fields, she stumbles across Adi, an apprentice sword-maker, alone and hiding from the bloodthirsty bandits who kidnapped his beloved master.

When Dewi’s father also goes missing, she seeks the advice of the powerful tiger-people who watch over her village, but even they can see only so far through the cloud of sorcery that hangs over the kingdom. They leave her with a cryptic message: she and Adi must discover the true meaning of Snow, Fire and Sword before they can find her father and the other missing elders and reveal the truth about the danger that threatens Jayangan.

I had such a personal connection to this book as it was the very first time I managed to find a YA urban fantasy that was set on the backdrop of mythological Indonesia!!! It was the first time I was able to share a book with my Mum as we were able to discuss all the West Javanese legends contained throughout this story. I loved this book so much, I really took my time to read it so I was able to saviour it for as long as I could. A lot of the terminology used, I was able to understand first go but I thought it was fantastic that a glossary was included at the end of this book for the non-Indonesian speaking readers. The story moved at a reasonably quick pace, it allowed me to picture a whole new world that was inspired by true Indonesian landscape – I was able to picture the characters and the traditional Indonesian attire they were wearing so clearly. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy urban fantasies with reference to cultural legends – please note I had to get this book via Print on Demand. I’m so grateful to have this book on my shelf as it was such an immersive read, it is definitely a favourite!!!

-Annie

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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

The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.” – The Rose & The Dagger

Book 2 of The Wrath and The Dawn – 4 stars!

Epic and a great ending to the love story of Shazi and Khalid. After reading The Wrath and The Dawn, I was really interested and excited to read the final book and see where it all leads. Without giving away any spoilers, all I can say is that the ending is filled with emotion, twists after twists and a captivating retelling of Arabian Nights. I enjoyed the plot, the sharp biting dialogue between the characters and the magic weaved throughout the story really shined through in this final book. Recommend if you have enjoyed the first book, like strong characters, magic, plot twists and thought-provoking dialogue.

– NJ

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