Book review – Jade War by Fonda Lee

Caidyn's review (1)

Jade War (The Green Bone Saga, #2)


CW: violence, desecrating a body, clan wars (still), mention of rape, abortion, and death

  1. Jade City – 4.5/5

I’m going be straight up with y’all. I don’t know what the fuck I want to say about this book. All I know is that it was amazing and I just cannot wait for the third book. Which, when I went to get the cover for this book, I saw that the book already has a title and cover and description and I started screaming and crying.

That’s how much I love this series.

But, I need to get back on track because I have a warning for y’all. This will contain spoilers for the first book. I can’t hold myself back because so much has happened and ugh. It needs to be told and I can’t censor myself. Stay away if you want to be unspoiled!

This book picks up months after the end of Jade City. Hilo is the Pillar of No Peak after Lan was killed. Anden recovered from his fight and, after deciding not to become a Green Bone, ends up in Espenia to see how he could be of use there getting an education and being around the Kekonese in Espenia. Shae is still the Weather Man. Wen, Hilo’s wife, is expecting their first child together. Hilo’s grandfather, the former Pillar, has passed away as well. Oh, and there’s also a foreign war on top of the clan war No Peak is still having with the Mountain clan.

Basically, shit has gone down and it’s going down fast.

As with the first book, I was built up and destroyed so rapidly. The plot is a bit slower because of the expansion. After all, it’s not just things going on in Kekon now. It’s also Kekon, No Peak working with the Espenian government, Anden being in Espenia and the people he meets there, the political maneuvering of all characters, and even more. The book has expanded so much and it’s all-encompassing.

At times, I thought that Lee might have bitten off more than she could chew. Mainly with the foreign war that was now going on. I hope that expands more in the third book but I felt like it was very much a background thing in this. I wanted to know more about it and the relationship that Kekon had with them.

But, the characters. Nothing is sacred in Lee’s book. Nothing. I remember that distinctly from reading the first book. No one is safe in this damn thing and I had to brace myself. Wen is, definitely, my favorite character. Shae is a close second. Lee writes amazing female characters. They’re so complex and live in this very male-dominated world. Wen finds ways to manipulate Hilo into doing things that he might not have agreed to before. When that doesn’t work, she and Shae work together behind his back to get shit done that Hilo might not approve of. They are wonderful and ugh. I love it.

I also enjoyed seeing how Hilo is coping with all that’s going on. He was never supposed to be the Pillar. That was Lan and his descendants. But now he’s thrust into this position he was never trained for. I’m enjoying seeing how he retains his old personality and works with the new one that he has to develop to do his job as Pillar. Although, he’s still hella impulsive and I distinctly remember one scene where I was staring, open-mouthed, at the book because I did not expect his actions. I’m still waiting to see the consequences of those actions.

Anden also got a lot of development in this. He’s away from the people he grew up around and in a country he’s never been to. He has to learn this new world, along with reconcile his old identity with his new one. Oh, and he finally really gets to live his life how he wants. Kekon isn’t well-known for being accepting of gay people — it’s still very cishet and male-dominated — so he gets to be in Espenia where it’s not a huge deal. He gets to finally be gay in a more open way. That was lovely to see.

This book is so intense and it spans years. I’m not joking when I say that. The first book felt more contained and in a shorter time span, but this one really is longer. I kind of judged it by Wen having kids. She’s pregnant with her first, then they have a second. The second is starting to walk when the book ends. I mean, that’s years. And it didn’t really feel like it. It just shows how long this game is going to go. Who knows how long the Saga will be at this rate!

What I do know is that I’m going to read the next one as soon as it comes out. And, I’m going to be impatiently waiting for it because I need this stat. Like immediately.

Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
What series is killing you with the wait?

ARC review – Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Caidyn's review (1)

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)

I received this from Edelweiss and HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review!


CW: sexism, forced marriage, human experimentation, cutting (for blood magic), execution, starvation/not eating, and burning at the stake

I was completely blown away by this debut! When I went into this, I was pretty sure that it would be a good book but damn! Apparently, this year is all about debut authors shocking me by how amazing their stories are. This is on the upper-edge of YA — I’d say 16-18 — and I was so here for it. Alternately, I was laughing and on the edge of my seat. Sometimes at the same time, honestly.

This book follows Louise (Lou) le Blanc and Captain Reid Diggory. Lou is a witch from a very important lineage who is trying to escape from her life with her best friend, Coco, who is a blood witch. Reid is a Chasseur, or a part of the Church. And he kind of burns witches at the stake from time to time. And works for people who do a bit of human experimentation. You know how it is. Common stuff, every day stuff, right?

It’s set in a fictionalized France and I loved it. It was so much fun to read it while keeping in mind all that I know about France. This France hates witches. Hates them so much and will do anything to get rid of them. It’s rather sexist, admittedly, going with the belief that a woman becomes her husband’s property.

But the world was so rich and developed. I could really get a feel for it and place it in my head. Sometimes the world is the hardest thing for me to get down because they can blend together. This one stood out, which I really loved. I could keep it straight in my mind despite all of the moving parts — Lou’s old life and those connected with it, the people she’s with now, the Church, etc.

And that plot? So damn fast-paced. It was a whirlwind to read and I kept wondering exactly where it was going towards, even though I had an idea of where it might end up. It kept me wondering because it was so broad. There were little things here and there that would catch my attention as a reader, then the story would come back to the story/ending that we were being worked to.

The biggest win for me with this book was the trope that it had running through its veins. Enemies, although Reid doesn’t know who/what Lou is. They just don’t like each other. Lou is very boisterous and opinionated and loves a song about Big Tiddy Liddy. (Not joking there.) Reid is reserved, quiet, pious. He takes his church vows very seriously. Doesn’t curse and finds her horrifying, although he doesn’t agree with some of the church’s mandates.

Even better, it’s a forced marriage. They are forced to get married and, from there, start realizing they like each other more than they should since, you know, they should hate each other. I felt my aura enrich and grow, and my grey hairs slowly turn back to brown by reading this trope.

It’s so hard to get right, too. Because if you go too fast, it’s not believable that they really hated each other at all or there was any bit of force at all to get them married. Go too slow and it wears at my patience. Mahurin was like Goldilocks. She got it just right for me and what I didn’t even know that I wanted.

Really, what else do I have to say to convince you to give this witchy, twisty book a try? I preordered it when I was around 30% in because I knew that I had to get my hands on a finished copy because this was just so much fun to read. Definitely a favorite of this year!

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Have you read this one? Is it now on your TBR?
What’s your favorite book that has a forced marriage in it?

Book review – The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

Caidyn's review (1)

The Smoke Thieves (The Smoke Thieves, #1)


CW: sexism, creepy brother, war, violent torture/execution scene, and death of a loved one

I’m very conflicted about this book.

On one hand, it was good with decent characters and it honestly felt like a YA version of Game of Thrones. On the other hand… well, I’ll get to that in a second. My rating reflects that I did really enjoy reading this book.

This book takes place in a fictional world. Two main countries are in this story, although there are more. I’m just going to touch on the two big ones that feature the most in the story

  • Brigand: a conquering world led by a very sexist king.
  • Pitoria: more peaceful and open to women leading/being independent.

There are five main characters, all of which belong to one of these countries.

  • Catherine: daughter of the sexist king, about to be married to the heir of Pitoria. Very smart and suffers at the hand of her sexist male family members.
  • Ambrose: Catherine’s guard. At the beginning of the book, his sister is executed.
  • Tash: a 13-year-old demon hunter who lives in Pitoria. She’s sassy, resourceful, and a delight
  • March: originally from one of the lands Brigand conquered and currently works as a servant in the palace, but he’s been radicalized; also is a POC character
  • Edyon: bastard son of a merchant-woman who is a bit of a kleptomaniac and is also queer.

Each character has chapters and you see the story from their perspective. As I said, it’s like Game of Thrones. I’ve only read the first book and never watched the TV show, but I remember the book. All these perspectives and you’re wondering why the hell they’re important and getting space on the page. Slowly, you watch as the plot expands and you see all the pieces fitting into place about these characters.

It’s like that in this book.

You don’t quite know what’s going on and why these things are important, but as the story goes on you get there. I found it clever and I liked fitting the pieces together.

However, I still prefer books with fewer perspectives. My favorite was Catherine. I loved watching her grow and come into her own in this new kingdom (kinda like Dany, right?) as the story went on. To me, she’s the real winner in this story. I only care about her and Tash. (Tash because she’s a cute kid and I love sassy characters.)

This leads me to the stuff I didn’t like. The author is a white woman and, admittedly, it read like a white woman wrote this. Aka, there was a queer character and a POC character who might be queer, but it was never stated outright. Not once. It was mentioned that March had darker skin, but that’s it. There’s never a show of subtle racism or prejudice against him coming from a different country. And in the Brigand world, that was hard to believe. Then, there’s Edyon, the solidly queer character. Yet, it’s never mentioned that he definitely is queer.

Plus, when I was getting the pictures and stuff for this review, I found Percy’s review saying that he won’t read it and has the author blacklisted because the author has a history of queerbaiting and using the bury your gays trope. (Link will take you to his review where he discusses her book where she does it.) Which is disappointing and, honestly, I can tell that the author didn’t quite learn from that.

And that really ruined the book for me. I was excited to keep reading since the book comes out in early August. But now? I’m hesitant. I might give it a try, but knowing that about the author and that she hasn’t learned too much makes me hesitant to read more.

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Have you read this? What did you think?
What author actions make you stop reading them?

Book review – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Caidyn's review (1)



CW: anxiety, grief, loss of a loved one, violence, and forced institutionalization

Goodreads was being a butt with the picture for the Owlcrate edition, so I had to use my picture from Instagram. Oh well! I think it looks prettier like this.

In other news, I liked this a lot! I don’t know how much I have to say about it, but I did really enjoy it.

The story focuses around a world where books aren’t always what they seem. Some have the souls of humans in them and can transform into deadly creatures that kill people. And Elisabeth is an apprentice, training to become one of the people who protects those books. Except one night she finds that one of the books has transformed and killed the Director. She defeats the book only to find herself being punished.

Enter her adventure.

Elisabeth was such a dynamic character! I really enjoyed reading her transformation and all of that. She was badass and likable and nice and just great. She was really enjoyable.

Along the way she meets Nathanial Thorn, a sorcerer — and librarians hate sorcerers — who has a demon, Silas, tethered to him. When Nathanial dies, Silas will eat his soul and then go on to serve the next Thorn. If there is one, of course. She grudgingly likes them, then, of course, it becomes more. Nathanial is so much fun. I loved how cocky he was and that he was so open with his sexuality, honestly saying that he’s bisexual. Which was great.

The character that completely stole my heart, though, was Silas. He was just fun and I want more of the demon lore for this! He was endlessly fascinating, how human he was yet how other he was at the same time. I thought that Rogerson did a great job of balancing him as a character, making him likable and also terrifying when we were reminded as readers that he isn’t like us at all.

The world took a bit of time for me to sink into. I blame my mood when I was reading it. I was very distracted and just needed to read, even if I wasn’t completely paying attention to it. (Sorry, book. I do that because it’s my self-care.) I was still catching up and gathering everything towards the end because of that. My fault, I know, but I should have picked a different book to read like that.

I have a feeling that I’ll bump this one up to 4.5 or 5 stars when I eventually reread it. The story just took my breath away and I ended up loving all the characters. It took me a while to really like Elisabeth and Nathanial. As I said, I liked them but I needed to get to know them more. Luckily for me, the book is pretty long and I definitely had enough time to get to know them! They were wonderful and I know that the plot was fantastic.

Do yourself a favor and check this out! I already know I’ll be trying Rogerson’s debut novel because she’s an author I’ll be paying attention to more.

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Have you read this? What did you think?

Book review – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Caidyn's review (1)

The Night Circus


This book isn’t my usual fare. It’s magical realism, which I don’t usually like, and it’s basically a romance book… which I don’t read. And, surprise surprise, I liked it even more than I liked it the first time around!

It was just… beautiful.

I love the way Morgenstern can tell a story. It’s not necessarily chronological and, for this story, it wouldn’t have worked. We needed the jumping around, the not knowing why someone or something is important. In a way, it was like watching a circus act. You don’t know where it’s going just that everything you see is spectacular in its own way.

Two magicians decide to play a game again. Not a game of skill, but a game of endurance. Who can they teach better to win a game where the whole world is their chessboard. Celia shows up on her father’s, Prospero or Hector Bowen, doorstep after her mother commits suicide. Marco is chosen by a magician and is taken in.

The playing field for this game? A circus of dreams that they weave together to show off their own power.

And, yet, Marco and Celia fall in love. Which they shouldn’t do because it makes things worse in the end. I do love the way they came together and the way the relationship went. I think my thing with romance is that I love when two people get together who maybe shouldn’t and when it’s about a game, playing each other until someone gets the upper hand. It’s the only way I can do romance. Usually that means the story’s dark, but this was incredibly light and beautiful.

I think what really sells the story is Morgenstern’s writing. She can paint a beautiful scene that you can see in your child’s mind, like the circus that you always want to see as a kid or a magic show. All of that wonder and awe. I read the book, but I think that this would be a captivating audiobook to listen to.

The plot itself is rather nonexistent for most of the book. There isn’t a discernable one and I thought that I figured it out, but that wasn’t the real story. The real story is very hidden, which I loved because it made it feel as if there were multiple stories wrapped into this one book.

It’s a beautifully woven book, as delicate and intricate as the magic in this book. It’s one of those books you can sit down to on a gloomy, dark day — maybe raining lightly, but not absolutely storming — with soft classical music playing (I thought a string quartet station was the best fit) and allow to wrap you in a warm hug.

In short, this book definitely moved to my all time favorites because it’s so unexpectedly beautiful.

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Have you read this?
What did you think?

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is 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?

  • 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!

Brother Poncet crouched on the scree-covered mountain slope clutching his cream robe about himself, and watched his comrade, Brother Ambrose, inch into the pitch-dark cavern before them. He remained a few paces behind, still out in the sunlight, although at that altitude it did little to warm him. Up that high, it was always cold, even in summer.

I feel so happy that I got this ARC!

I won it in a raffle from BookishFirst, so a huge thank you to them for hosting it and Tor for being willing to part with some copies! These first lines are liable to change as this is an ARC.

Based on that first paragraph, I can tell the book will be a bit of a slow-build. I’ll have to work at it, I’m sure. Lots of description! Not a bad thing, but it could get annoying for me if I pay attention to it while reading.

It is…



The cover got me, then the description. It sounds super interesting and ever since The Priory of the Orange Tree, I’ve been craving some more fantasy books with dragons!

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Would you read this based on those first lines?
What fantasies with dragons do you love?

Book review – The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

Caidyn's review (1)

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War, #2)

Thanks to Netgalley and Edelweiss for an ARC!!


CW: drug use, addiction, rape, cannibalism (briefly implied), PTSD, grief and violence

  1. The Poppy War – 5/5

Image result for screaming gif

Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there. The above gif is, honestly, my end reaction at the last few chapters because boy did this fuck me up.

So, welcome to my incoherent review that will be spoiler-y for the first book!

The book picks up pretty soon after the end of The Poppy War. Rin has destroyed everything and is now basically wanted by everyone. She won the war, but her win came at a huge cost for everyone. That’s what she’s learning now.

The book’s plot was fucking insane. If I thought the first one had intrigue, this one was fucking madness. We got multiple people trying to pull Rin to their side so they can use her powers to swing the war in their favor. The biggest one is the Dragon Warlord, Nezha’s father, who she throws her lot in with once she realizes there’s really nothing that she can do. Except, really, Rin doesn’t like to be controlled in the least.

And then there’s Rin over there trying to figure out what she wants while she’s dealing with the grief of losing Altan. Now she’s the last of the Speerlies and has to put that burden on her, along with all that she’s done and seen. Which is a lot because Rin has gone down a long path, then there’s even more in this book.

What I really loved about this book was how the characters grew and allegiances were cemented. It was beautiful to read that because it was so lovely to see the survivors band together even if they don’t really like each other very much still.

Then, there’s the world. It expands so much in this book! You get to see more of Nikan and the various people who live in it, getting along and fighting as you can expect. Plus, you get to see new religions and people, like the Hesperians (who are basically the Europeans trying to colonize China and push Christianity as the one and true religion). You also get to see more and new gods in the pantheon in action as the walls are broken down.

I mean, this book was just so fucking fantastic on so many levels.

One thing that killed me was the fact that the ARC doesn’t have the character list completed. There’s a space for it, but it’s not done yet so I didn’t have that helping me out. And, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m horrible with names in books. Especially epic fantasy. I kept getting characters lost since so much happens in this book and you’re introduced to so many new people in the course of the book. So, be prepared for that! This is epic fantasy at its finest. And, unlike GRRM or Brandon Sanderson, there’s an end in sight since this is only a trilogy.

I just loved this book so much and I feel so lucky that I got an ARC of it. It’s been on my must have list since I finished the first book and now I’m just mostly dead waiting for the final book to finish me off.

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Have you read this yet?
Are you dying for it?
What recent epic fantasy do you love?