October 31, 2022

Book Review: Strike the Zither by Joan He

 Hi everyone! 

Today I bring you another Asian Fantasy book rec - I'm really getting into this trend! 

Strike the Zither

Book #1 in the Kingdom of Three series

Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram

My rating: between 4 - 4.5 stars

About the book: 

 The year is 414 of the Xin Dynasty, and chaos abounds. A puppet empress is on the throne. The realm has fractured into three factions and three warlordesses hoping to claim the continent for themselves.

But Zephyr knows it’s no contest.

Orphaned at a young age, Zephyr took control of her fate by becoming the best strategist of the land and serving under Xin Ren, a warlordess whose loyalty to the empress is double-edged—while Ren’s honor draws Zephyr to her cause, it also jeopardizes their survival in a war where one must betray or be betrayed. When Zephyr is forced to infiltrate an enemy camp to keep Ren’s followers from being slaughtered, she encounters the enigmatic Crow, an opposing strategist who is finally her match. But there are more enemies than one—and not all of them are human.

An epic YA fantasy about found family, rivals, and identity, from New York Times and Indie bestselling author Joan He, inspired by Three Kingdoms, one of the Four Classics of Chinese Literature.

Asian Fantasy books never fail to amaze me. I was drawn by the art and the author, I didn't know much about the inspiring story so I was a bit skeptical, but oh, did it deliver! It's fast-paced, the heroine is smart and strong for a change and there is one big twist I wouldn't have guessed in a million years! I felt kind of disconnected emotionally (you know that feeling, like something is missing), but as far as characters, plot and world building were concerned, it was stunning.

So first off, I have to say I'm amazed by the amount of detail, research and work 

that went into this novel (there's also character art, maps and author notes in the book, which helped a lot). It's absolutely brilliant and everything is so cleverly done! Even if I didn't read the author's note and stalk her on social media (which I totally am heh) it would all be evident from every page and every word. 

Second, I have to admit sometimes I was confused  it was a bit challenging to get all the concepts and connect with the characters or the writing style.  

But I feel like this is one of those books that you have to read to fully grasp it, the description doesn't make it justice. It's more to Zephyr than just a strategist, more to the world than an empire at war, no friend or enemy is truly what they seem and are they enemies to lovers or?... 

It's intricate, suspenseful, action-packed and so rich in mythology, it really packs a beautiful package. 

Zephyr has this sassy, sarcastic voice that makes it fun to follow her through her adventures. And her strategies... ugh, so, SO smart! ๐Ÿ‘ Brutal, heartbreaking at times, but effective in the end. 

Speaking of the end, you will not see it coming. My heart! The next book can't come out soon enough!

*Review copy provided by the publisher Macmillan Children's Books through Edelweiss, thank you so much!

Now I'm waiting to see the finished copy in stores, that art!



October 29, 2022

Book Review: Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor

 Hi everyone! 

I'm so happy I finally read something from my fall TBR list! Most of the books I read lately were not even on my radar/tbr-soon until I picked them up. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Goodreads / Amazon 

3.5 stars

About the book:

For fans of Caraval and The Night Circus, this decadent and darkly enchanting YA fantasy, set against the backdrop of a Belle ร‰poque-inspired hotel, follows seventeen-year-old Jani as she uncovers the deeply disturbing secrets of the legendary Hotel Magnifique. 

All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.

The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.

With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maรฎtre d’hรดtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.

Now, about this book - while it was a quick, easy read and had that whimsical, enchanting feeling, I wish I loved it more. :(

Overall, it is a great Fantasy YA book and the world building definitely stands out. Once you get past the Caraval comparisons, it's actually interesting and magical.

๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ณ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ: ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜บ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต. ๐˜‰๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ, ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ'๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข ๐˜จ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฑ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ญ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ. ๐˜‰๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ!

But. I struggled with the characters, I couldn't quite relate to them. While Bel was book boyfriend material and had all this mysterious, caring, soulful feel about him, the heroine was a bit rash and too immature for my liking. She kept running headlong into situations without thinking of the consequences, which led to dangerous, hurtful and predictable situations. The way she was kept in the dark didn't help and made her almost understandable, but it was still irritating to see. 

The writing was easy and engaging and I loved the Hotel, its magic and all the places they visited, also the scary and mysterious parts were a nice touch for the plot. 

So if you like that magical vibe similar to Caraval and Beauty and the Beast, where the Hotel, characters and random objects seem to have a life and a story of their own, give this a try. Just don't have high expectations regarding the characters and their story, it could have been done better. 


~ Deea

October 18, 2022

Book Mail: FairyLoot YA Subscription Box

 Hey guys! 

Things have changed a lot since my last adventure in the book blogger universe, now not only we have beautiful book covers, we also have special editions and wonderful book subscriptions! Like, yes, please take all my money for stunning books!!

Are you subscribed to any book box service? Fae Crate, Ilumicrate, The BookishBox, Olwcrate are just a few of them and the most popular.

Sadly, I can't subscribe to all of them no matter how much I wanted it, International shipping is a pain. (like, I'm still waiting for some books I pre-ordered in August from The Book Depository.:(

Anyway. FairyLoot is my favorite book box I managed to subscribe to and I am so, so grateful! Shipping is still expensive and takes forever, but it's worth it.

Their special editions are dreams come true, the covers, the edges, the art on the endpapers, everything always spot on and gorgeous. Not to mention all the bookish items that come in the box, items related to other popular books we love. 

So I decided to post a little unboxing here on my page as well: you must see the beauties for yourself.

Note: This is one of my most favorite reads of the year too, along with Ballad of Never After and an easy 5 stars read! 

Like, am I right?? Look at the purples!! ๐Ÿฅฐ

What's your favorite item?



October 12, 2022

Book Review: Frost by C. N. Crawford

 Hi guys!

I'm back with another badass recommendation - you know I like my Fantasy books with a touch of spice, darkness, banter, heaps of action and crazy odds. 

Frost and Nectar Book 1 ️ 

Goodreads / Amazon / My Insta Post

4.5 stars

So I've decided that CN Crawford is going to be on my auto-buy authors list.

*Side note: I've also been listening to the The Demon Queen trials audiobooks, they became a sort of go-to, guilty pleasure at the end of a long day, when my eyes and mind are too tired to read or do anything. Everything about the writing, the characters, the world is so addictive! Quick, fun, action packed, steamy and with just my kind of lead characters!

 Now, back to Frost (which checks the same boxes and then some): I really enjoyed this book so much, I wish we had more books in the series to binge read! It takes a new, modern spin on Fae stories and everything is so rich, fun, yet believable, that it really makes you feel like you live there with the characters too. 

Basically, it gives you a taste of what our world would be like if Fae walked among us. Obviously, they would be gorgeous, powerful, rich and popular. They would be all over the news and social media. They would have fans and groupies. But naturally, we wouldn't be fazed by any of that, busy living our lives as we'd be. Or at least, our heroine isn't. But she gets the attention of the Fae King and kaboom! It all goes crazy.

We have a Bachelorette style of competition, except it's filled with scary supernaturals and death traps. The King himself helps and trains, but it's only so much he can do.

I really, really enjoyed the main characters' interactions. The banter, the tension, the chemistry, the slow-burn, the secrecy, the growth... Everything flies so easy and natural with them. You know I LOVE a badass snarky main character and seeing her getting stronger, taking no sh*t from anyone and learning more about her heritage and fae life was just sublime.

Now, about our grumpy Fae King - what can I even say?*sigh* The definition of tortured, smoldering, alpha hero.

Great worldbuilding, action, spice, curses, slow burn romance, fast paced... All in all, a great read and I can't recommend it enough! Especially if you love arranged marriage tropes, slow burn, Fae, trials, curses and wicked relationships. 

*I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion as you know, all my fangirling is my own ha. 

Memorable quotes: 

"Oh, shit. Do we have something else in common?” I shuddered. “We should probably stop talking before we get involved in a messy emotional entanglement.”

“But that’s what we’re like. The fae. We are creatures of the earth and mists. We are warriors. And when we are at our best, we transcend our bodies and commune with the gods. When was the last time you really felt alive, Ava?”

Because if it were you and me, in the oak grove on Beltane, I would have you screaming my name. Calling me your king. I would have your body responding to my every command, shuddering with pleasure underneath me, until you forgot the human world existed at all.”

 “Tell me again how much you hate me.”
My pulse quickened. “Is this your kink?”
“Something like that.”

“We are a match made in hell, but I have never wanted anyone more, Ava Jones.”

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