Reviews

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

*Spoiler free*

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising. But surprises aren’t always good. Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school. For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . . Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time. I’ve heard so many amazing things about this book, especially from people I know I have similar tastes too and eager to take to always take their recommendations. I knew it was dark, I knew it would probably be on the denser side, I knew it would have war in the realm of high fantasy. I wasn’t sure how exactly I would feel about it, since these kinds of books tend to be hit or miss for me, but I was very, very eager to give it a shot. Trigger warnings: drug use, substance addiction, self-harm, racism, misogyny, genocide, bullying, abandonment, abuse, animal death, animal cruelty, brutal torture, brutal killing, brutal rape (off screen, but still incredibly violent)

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Reviews

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

*Spoiler free*

Thank you so much Avon for the e-ARC!

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamourous family’s mansion. The next items? Enjoy a drunken night out. Ride a motorcycle. Go camping. Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex. Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage. And… do something bad. But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job. Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit. But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

This is such a special book to me. Thank you so much to Avon for giving me the e-ARC, I’m so happy to have read it! I knew I wanted to read this book. I share a name with the main character, which is cool in of itself, but the Chloe is also plus sized, has chronic pain, and she gets cat. I’ve dealt with chronic pain, I’m plus sized, and I adore cats. It was so cool to see a main character that was like me in so many ways. Trigger warnings: aftermath of an abusive relationship, mentions of an abusive relationship (there is a warning in the beginning of the ARC I read and I assume it’s going to be in the final copy as well, which I appreciate so much)

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