School has reached a tyrannical, dictatorial level, and yet my sanity still remains (perhaps because it was already whittled down to none in the first place) and I’ve found many incredible books by Asian authors especially! I’m feeling the mid-year blues, and anxiety towards the looming end-of-years I’ve spent my student years dreading. However, I’ve so much to be thankful for and look forward to, as usual better late than never, let’s go through July!
As mentioned, in July I read quite a number of books as opposed to my monthly average of about 4. This July I read 9 with many of them being highly anticipated reads many have been urging me to get to by Asian authors which aligns neatly with my goal to read more diversely this year!
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo [★★★½]
At first glance, The Night Tiger seems like your typical dual POV mystery, but as I ventured deeper into its depth, it revealed itself to be an atmospheric, complex and rather sensitive book that I loved! It follows Ji Lin a dressmaker as well as Ren a boy who has to fulfil his master’s last wish by finding his missing finger before 49 days are up such that his soul will not wander the earth. It’s set in 1930s colonial Malaya, somewhere very close to home (Singapore just below Malaya was under British rule as well during that period) and I loved how Choo brought it to life with the sights and most prominently the olden mythology, the one about tigers being central to the book. it’s a series of unfortunate events both on a physical and psychological plant littered with Chinese superstitions I grew up with, I would definitely recommend this historical fiction!
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He [★★★★]
The heavens must be smiling upon me for I adored Joan He’s The Ones We’re Meant to Find and now loved Descendant of the Crane. It’s a rather different story, one that is quiet, thoughtful and thrilling. The character arc, political intrigue and themes of morality and knowledge were incredibly fleshed out and the open ending both a genius and a pain. Definitely recommend this Asian YA fantasy! You can read my full review here!
The Silence of Bones by June Hur [★★★]
A historical mystery set in 1800s Korea? I expected to enjoy this and I’m pleased to say that I did! It was such a haunting, atmospheric, albeit slow-paced murder mystery. It captures Korea in that period where themes such as morality, feminism and many others were explored. It was truly balanced and had a satisfying conclusion to Seol’s character arc, thanks so much to Abby and Ashmita‘s enthusiasm for pushing me to get to this novel! I’ve gotten an ARC of June Hur’s 2022 novel The Red Palace so I’m excited for that!
The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman [★★★]
Another one with a gorgeous cover, definitely a beautiful story of hope and one with a unique premise of AI and death, but one that disappointed in a few ways. The Infinity Courts promised meaningful themes such as morality, technology and death, while they were delivered, the way in which they were methodically drummed into readers’ minds through the same rhetorical questions and hypophora again and again and again was something I felt rather repetitive and irksome. The characterisation and conclusion were not the best as well but nevertheless it painted a wonderful world and I’ll be following the series with The Genesis Wars next year! You can read my full review here!
Jade War by Fonda Lee [★★★★]
Jade City was enthralling but Jade War, a completely different story (not really its a sequel but you know what I mean) and was just epic. The fierce and fervent war between the clans, the fever in book one suddenly expands to become an international affair, and the political intrigue was done brilliantly, once again balanced out well by all the drama. I’m honestly dead scared for Jade Legacy, yeah literally dead scared Fonda Lee is seriously vicious towards her characters man.
The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai [★★★★]
Do you know the feeling where you finish you book whereby your heart is full and eyes moist? The Mountains Sing was a beautiful, multigenerational tale that follows a family through various periods of history like the Land Reform, Vietnam War, Reunification of Vietnam. The dual narrative, coupled with themes of patriotism and loyalty, those hard hitting ones that come with war and suffering, yet enveloped by love and hope made this novel such a lyrically melancholic yet moving and resonant piece of historical fiction. I also learnt a lot about Vietnamese culture from The Mountains Sing, truly one that will stay in my heart!
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende [★½]
Ah and then we have a historical fiction that disappoints. I feel like I read a different book from everyone else. The historical context of this book covering the Spanish Civil War, histories and political climates of Spain and Chile were brilliantly interwoven into the story, but the characters were flat and the storytelling rather forced and verbose for the majority of the book.
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal [★★★]
Cherry keeps urging everyone to read We Hunt the Flame and I finally did it! Honestly, this book was very emotionally draining in a good way, all the tension in the action and the characters were palpable. Though it took a while to take flight, I really savoured how dramatic it was towards the end. I much preferred Zafira’s POV over Nasir, whom I felt was sorely underdeveloped but as a whole I’m dying to find out where this duology leads!
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo [★★★]
Once again being frank I don’t remember much from Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982. What I do recall in vivid detail would be how it made me feel. We follow the story of Kim Jiyoung’s life since her mother was expecting her all the way till 2016, both realistically and poignantly portrayed the blatant misogyny in society, reflective of the stories of countless other women… I remember reading the last few pages only to become so so angry. It’s a bleak story that ends with some semblance of hope but in the end we face the harsh reality. It was definitely such a hard hitting and important read, grateful that I picked it up.
TBR FOR AUGUST
Given that it’s already the middle of August coupled with the fact that my mood is the boss and that school is terrible I’m not confident of adhering to the TBR haha but here are a couple that I’m excited to get to!
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – I’ve heard so much about this historical novel, about the depth and emotion it conveys so I’m excited to experience it for myself.
- The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker – A historical fantasy that deals with death and Japanese mythology, how could I not be exuberant over its existence and read it ASAP?
- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – Another historical fiction that I’ve heard is sweeping, moving and a great insight into japanese culture!
- The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin – This book has been on my TBR for a while, given my heightened interest in Chinese SFF, and finally I’m getting to it, thanks to a literature seminar I signed up for (more on that below). Truly anticipating my first piece of translated Chinese SFF, and a meaningful discussion afterwards.
Ah July (and first week of August)’s posts were truly my favourite to write! I ‘m especially proud of myself for finally writing a recommendations post based on my favourite Marvel movies, my first non review/wrap up post of 2021 in fact! Though I do relish every chance to shout random recommendations at people (The Poppy War y’all!!) I found it rather daunting to write a recommendations post based on a certain theme, I always feel like I haven’t read enough books to do true recommendations apart from my favourites, but once I started writing I realised how much I enjoyed it so yes do look out for more recommendation posts from me, for better… or for worse!
POSTS ON THE BLOG
POSTS AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE
In my normal fashion, I was gone for half of July thanks to school, but here are some posts that I managed to catch… (some of them were August posts hehe)
- Madeline shares some popular YA books she couldn’t get on board with and sadly I could concur for some.
- Ahaana has her first blogoversary, go show her some love!
- Eleanor also celebrates her blog turning one!
- Ritz is back from her hiatus and shares her plans for the blog!
- Aarushi shares some book to screen adaptations that are actually good, many gems in there go check it out!
- Jayati reviews She Who Became the Sun and I am seriously so hyped for this book now!
- Saima shares her Mid Year Freak Out tag and oh my the graphics are gorgeous!
- Sanah interviews Olivie Blake, the author of The Atlas Six, it was such a meaningful discussion, I’m more intrigued by The Atlas Six now
- Janhavi hosts her first blog tour, that of The Wild Ones!
- Asic recommends some books based off MBTI types and I’m obsessed with the post!
There’s honestly nothing interesting in my life worth mentioning because apart from books, all my other time is simply school and work, which honestly is insufferable given that end-of-years are looming over our heads (they start mid-September yikes). But here are some small life updates for July (ft. a bit of August as well)
- I made a trip to the library! It may not seem like much but this trip was only my second trip to the library this entire year with the Covid-19 restrictions, as well as my hectic schedule. I managed to pick up some books I’ve been dying to get to like Pachinko, The Wrath and the Dawn and We Were Liars!
- I won an ARC giveaway! I think in my Mid Year Book Freak Out tag I’ve lamented enough about Netgalley and Edelweiss hating on me, and as an international book blogger it means so much when authors host international giveaways, coupled with the fact that books are expensive here, so thrilled to have won an ARC of The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker, one of my most anticipated releases! Can’t wait to devour it and share my thoughts!
- I signed up for a Literature Seminar and got into my desired session, that is a discussion on Science Fiction in Chinese Literature, as well as a series of presentations, one of which is on The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin! I’ve made it clear that 2021 was the year I wanted to start reading more diversely, in particular books by Asian authors. I’m now more aware of Asian literature and found so many Chinese SFF novels this year I loved (hint hint The Poppy War haha), and I’m excited to go one step further into translated works and participate in discussions about the genre! Don’t be surprised if you see a whole discussion post on Chinese SFF by me after the seminar end August!
- I got my braces off, finally! Here’s to the only non-literary event in the life section haha, after 2.5 years I finally took my braces off in the end of July. Do I feel prettier? Yes. Am I? No.