Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 5-1-18
Adult - Fantasy

The Poppy War- R.F. Kuang: Rin is a war orphan who has always craved more from life than living and working in a small village with her adoptive parents. Desperate for a way out, Rin sets her sights on passing the Keju-- the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youths to learn at the Academies. To Rin's and the official's, surprise, she aces the test and is brought to train at Sinegard, the most elite military school in all of Nikan. From her first day, Rin is targeted for being different than her classmates, and as her rage and frustration build, Rin discovers a dangerous power within herself. Through her teachings, Rin begins to explore the powers of the gods she thought were long gone. As a war begins to break out over the nation, Rin is determined to use her powers for good, but harnessing the power of the vengeful god who claimed her, may prove more deadly than helpful.

Usually, I'm not a fan of political fantasy, but I've heard such amazing things about this series that I had to give it a go. I get the hype now. The writing was grim, but there was still this underlying sense of humor woven throughout that I loved. Rin was so snarky and had such strong convictions. She was a little too stubborn and intense for her own good sometimes, but I enjoyed her overall. I also loved the secondary characters we meet, especially Kitay and Ramsa. Aside from the characters, the story itself was so captivating. It's heavily inspired by the Second Sino-Japanese War, and Kuang doesn't shy away from depicting just how brutal this period was. So many scenes were hard to read because she just put her characters through the wringer. No one was safe from pain, be it the characters or the reader. Still, I was hooked and can't wait to pick up the next book.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 8-30-22
YA - Fantasy

Belladonna- Adalyn Grace: Nineteen-year-old Signa has spent her entire life being carted from one guardian to the next after the death of her parents. Her living situation never stays the same for long as all of her guardians seem to pass soon after Signa comes to live with them. After the most recent death, Signa is sent to live with her last remaining relatives, the enigmatic Hawthornes. But when Signa arrives at their grand mansion, she learns not everything is as it seems. Her aunt has mysteriously died, and now her cousin is wasting away from the same strange disease. Only Signa knows that it's not an illness overtaking her cousin but poison. Signa may never have had a stable family relationship, but the one constant in her life has been Death. Signa doesn't know how or why, but she has always been able to see spirits and communicate with Death himself. To save her new family, Signa will recruit the help of Death and a puzzling stable boy named Sylas to uncover the murderer before it's too late.

I didn't have any expectations going into this, but I ended up enjoying it. Grace's writing was atmospheric and gave off an eerie, Gothic vibe that I loved. I also really liked her characters. Signa was so interesting with these strange powers. I wish we learned a little bit more about her background because I wanted to know how she came to be with them, but I'm intrigued to see how they'll grow from here. I also liked her relationship with Death. It was teasing yet protective at the same time. They bickered constantly, but you could tell that underneath it all, they both truly cared for one another. I did see the twist of Death's identity coming from a mile away, so it wasn't as shocking when it was revealed. There were also little clues about the plot twist I was able to suss out as well, but I still liked how Grace wrapped everything up. While the pacing was too slow for me at times, and I think this would've worked well as just a stand-alone, I'm excited to read the next one.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 2-22-22
Adult - Historical Romance

The Good Girl's Guide to Rakes- Eva Leigh: Kieran Ransome is known for being a bit of a rake, but when his latest antics result in a massive scandal for his family, his father decides enough is enough. If Kieran hopes to inherit anything, he must shape up and find a proper wife to marry. Celeste Kilburn is a society darling and beloved by all the most influential members of the ton. Most would love to have a reputation as spotless as hers, but Celeste can't help but wish for adventure. She wants to experience everything London has to offer, and when her brother's best friend, Kieran, begs her for help, she takes the opportunity to strike a deal. Celeste will introduce Kieran to all the right people, and Kieran will show her all the places a proper lady shouldn't be privy. But somewhere between garden parties and gambling hells, the attraction that Kieran and Celeste feel for one another turns into a desperate desire neither can ignore. But when their nighttime escapades are discovered, threatening Celeste's reputation, Kieran will have to decide if he's ready to grow up and fight for what he wants.

I loved this! It had everything I look for in historical romance: an intelligent leading lady, a swoon-worthy love interest, and top-notch banter. Leigh's writing was charming and witty and had you falling in love with Celeste and Kieran from their very first interaction. I couldn't get enough of the two of them. They had such a playful dynamic but were also able to be vulnerable and be their most authentic selves together without fear of judgment. It was so sweet to see. Not only that, but they had insane chemistry. It was so believable that these two were meant to be together. This was my first book by Leigh, but it definitely won't be my last, and I can't wait for the next installment.

Rating: 5/5


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