Book Review: Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Title: Daughter of the Moon Goddess
Sue Lynn Tan
Adult Fantasy/Romance
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 
Harper Voyager
Synopsis: GoodReads | StoryGraph
Notable Notables: 
Chinese mythology and culture
Recommended Readers: 
Fans of The Ghost Bride, Chinese fantasy, and romantic angst
CAWPILE Rating: 7.29
Rating: ★★

My Review

I read Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan much earlier this year for a book club with friends, so this review has been long overdue. I pondered how to write about this story, which features Xingyin separated from her exiled, immortal mother and set on a quest to lift her mother’s imprisonment while also undergoing a journey of self-discovery, romantic love, and familial loyalty.

In the end, I’ve decided to outline my thoughts to match the CAWPILE rating system. Let’s explore the highs and lows of Daughter of the Moon Goddess through the lens of characters, atmosphere, writing, plot, intrigue, logic, and enjoyment.

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Book Review: The Captive Prince Trilogy

This is going to be a somewhat different post from me because it’s a review of not one book but three: the entire Captive Prince trilogy by C.S. Pacat, comprising of Captive Prince, Prince’s Gambit, and Kings Rising. I consumed these books in a month after a Herculean effort of trying to pace myself, to absorb what I was reading instead of blazing through it in a “head empty, no thoughts” mindset. This has been the first trilogy I’ve read all the way through in quite some time, and I had nothing but a good time, a realization that thrilled me to no end.

For a few years, I’d been eyeing these books, staying away for a few reasons that all amounted to my own unfounded assumptions and others’ naysaying. These books were in the romance section, which means they likely weren’t well-written. They contained just sex covered by the thinnest veil of plot. They were hugely problematic in the way they glorify sexual slavery, rape, and other issues. The list goes on, but finally, I’d had enough of believing the fears. I picked up Captive Prince because current fiction and romance have been boring me to death lately, and before long I realized I was utterly—wait for it—captivated.

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Book Review: The Will and the Wilds

Title: The Will and the Wilds
Charlie N. Holmberg
Adult Fantasy
Page Count: 
Synopsis: GoodReadsStoryGraph
Notable Notables: 
Original fae lore, strong standalone fantasy, enemies-to-lovers
Recommended Readers: 
Lovers of fairytales and trickster characters
CAWPILE Rating: 
Rating: ★★★★★

My Review

A modern-day fairytale does exist that can sweep you away into adventure and make you sigh wistfully, and it’s The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg.

I’ve had my eye on this book for awhile, especially since a certain long-winded, so-called fae court series continued to disappointment me and fuel my hatred. Didn’t any author besides Holly Black actually know what fae are? Can’t anyone capture the sense of adventure and danger that comes with bargaining with magical creatures that exist beyond human understanding? Is enemies-to-lovers well and truly dead, with my choices being either “had an argument once”-to-lovers or animalistic alpha male rutting and mating bonds? “Nay!” said Holmberg. “I am here for you, my child.”

Thank you, Ms. Holmberg, I owe you my life.

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ARC Review: Ruthless Gods

ruthless gods
Ruthless Gods
 Emily A. Duncan
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ebook – ARC
Page Count: 432
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Dark, gothic atmosphere with no punches pulled; villain romance; diverse LGBTQA+ cast
Recommended Readers: Fans of the first book and cosmic horror enthusiasts
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

EDIT: I have changed my review from a four-star rating to a two-star rating on 4/11/21 to reflect my lingering feelings of dissatisfaction with this book and how unenthused this trilogy’s conclusion has left me.

I absolutely fell in love with Wicked Saints, the first book in the Something Dark and Holy trilogy by Emily A. Duncan. It connected with me on a level that I can’t fully explain; all I know is, it was one of those rare books where I read the ARC and went out to buy the published version that very same day.

Needless to say, I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel, Ruthless Gods, and was overjoyed to receive an ARC for it. I’m a bit disappointed to say that it didn’t resonate with me as strongly as its predecessor did. Its strong points came through splendidly, but its low points were detracting and, in some cases, downright annoying.

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ARC Review: A Murderous Relation

a murderous relationTitle: A Murderous Relation
Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Berkley
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Victorian England setting, sex-positive protagonist
Recommended Readers: Anyone who wants to start reading mystery
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you, Net Galley and the publisher, for offering this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Once again, Deanna Raybourn returns with a Veronica Speedwell mystery that is unabashedly fun and a sheer delight to read. I flew through A Murderous Relation with a speed I regret, because I think this might be the last book? I heard a rumor that more mysteries might be in store for Veronica, but until that Goodreads page updates, I will consider this series has ended on a satisfyingly high note.

This time, Veronica and Stoker are drawn into an investigation involving her half-brother, Prince Albert Victor. He’s given a diamond to Madame Aurore, the female owner of the most exclusive club in London known for its anonymity and offerings of sexual freedom. The diamond must be reclaimed before it can be traced back to the prince and erupt scandal within the monarchy and across the country. The timing couldn’t be worse, for London is also gripped in terror over the gruesome attacks of Jack the Ripper, and Lady Wellington, a friend of Veronica and a protector of the crown, suspects that the prince might be responsible. As Veronica and Stoker investigate the brothel, secrets surrounding the royal family and Veronica’s place in it begin to present themselves—along with another dead body.

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ARC Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl

crown of coral and pearlTitle: Crown of Coral and Pearl
 Mara Rutherford
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 432
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Solid world-building and original ideas
Recommended Readers: Those wanting to give a new author and a new fantasy a chance
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review—and sorry it’s a tad bit late.

Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford is definitely a book I’m conflicted by. I certainly didn’t dislike reading it, but I didn’t fall in love with it, either. It’s got a great plot setup that mostly needs more character polish. I was in sync with the book’s pacing as I read, but after looking back at the full summary it boasts, I would not be surprised if other people have a dissimilar experience. The summary reveals a lot of the plot, and if you read it thoroughly beforehand, you may start to get impatient for new things to happen and actual surprises to be revealed. Speaking of, here’s a bit of that summary, so perhaps read with caution.

The daughters of Varenia, a small village constructed on the ocean, are prized for their beauty above all. The only thing that rivals their beauty is the value of the blood pearls, which the Varenians harvest and sell to the kingdom of Ilara in exchange for food, water, and other living necessities. However, the blood pearls are becoming scarce, the waters are over-fished, and it’s almost time for Ilara to choose a Varenian daughter to marry the Crown Prince. Because of the scar on her face, Nor knows that her twin sister Zadie will be chosen, but after harm befalls her, Nor is sent in her stead. Forced to live as her sister, Nor believes she will still find the freedom in Ilara that she never knew in Varenia along with a way to intercede for her home. Yet her betrothed, Prince Ceren, is as cold as his underground mountain palace, and Nor finds herself caught in a web of politics involving the royal family and her people—while harboring feelings for Ceren’s brother, Prince Talin, she should not have.

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Book Review: War

 Laura Thalassa
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Version: ebook
Page Count: 427
Publisher: Lavabrook Publishing, LLC
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Fantasy-ish story featuring the Biblical end times; romance featuring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Recommended Readers: [Simon Cowell voice] It’s a no from me.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I had hoped that when Laura Thalassa had to change the covers of this series to this godawful thing, it wouldn’t be an indication of the story quality tanking, too. Pestilence was a shockingly, incredibly moving story with an engaging plot; contained a running commentary on human nature; featured a glorious, problematic villain love interest; and yeah, had some actual, well-written sex scenes. Who knew I could actually have it all in this genre, right? But then the cover change happened, War was unveiled looking like this, and I feared it was an ill omen of things to come.

Judging by my rating, you can see I was right, and you’re probably correct in guessing that, unlike the arrival of all my fears and doubts, I didn’t come at all. Instead, I am hugely disappointed by one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and even worse—War broke my five-star rating streak.

Upon finishing War, I am left with two burning questions: 1) Was Pestilence a fluke? 2) If not, then what the hell happened here?

Alright, let’s back up. It’s synopsis time, and oh yeah, expect spoilers throughout.

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July 2019 Book Releases

Hey, everyone! I am soooo late with this, but things have been crazy for me since the July 4th holiday, but I’m still going to post this July book release list because it’s still relevant! Yay!

For this list, you can find books about crows, terrible wizards, and Mayan gods of death, but what book reigns supreme as my most anticipated choice  for July?

thrawn treason
Release Date: July 23 | Goodreads

“If I were to serve the Empire, you would command my allegiance.”

Such was the promise Grand Admiral Thrawn made to Emperor Palpatine at their first meeting. Since then, Thrawn has been one of the Empire’s most effective instruments, pursuing its enemies to the very edges of the known galaxy. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive.

Now, as Thrawn’s TIE defender program is halted in favor of Director Krennic’s secret Death Star project, he realizes that the balance of power in the Empire is measured by more than just military acumen or tactical efficiency. Even the greatest intellect can hardly compete with the power to annihilate entire planets.

As Thrawn works to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy, his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld. Thrawn’s mastery of strategy must guide him through an impossible choice: duty to the Chiss Ascendancy, or fealty to the Empire he has sworn to serve. Even if the right choice means committing treason.

Why I Want to Read This: It’s a Thrawn book! By Timothy Zahn! Thrawn’s allegiance with the Empire pitted against the allegiance with his people! I know I say this about every Thrawn book, but this might be my most horny adventure with my favorite alien strategist to date! I am beyond losing it for whatever Zahn is going to do to me!

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Book Review: We Set the Dark on Fire

we set the dark on fireTitle: We Set the Dark on Fire
 Tehlor Kay Mejia
Genre: Young Adult
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Latinx characters and WLW romance
Recommended Readers: Gosh, everyone!
Rating: ★★★★★

I was recommended to read this by a friend just in time for Pride month, and I was so incredibly blown away by it!

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia is one of those rare YA books that is set in a fictional land, but there’s no real magic or sci-fi/fantasy elements to speak of. Rather, it mirrors our own world and the issues we face—particularly those of Latinx people in the context of American immigration—but at a more dystopian-level. Though, I regret to say, this dystopia and the current state of America is almost on the exact same wavelength. That’s…worrisome and depressing.

Our story follows Daniela “Dani” Vargas in the fictional island country of Medio. A myth about the sun god selecting two wives for his own, making the sea god and his people their eternal enemy, is the basis for Medio’s rampant political corruption and class divide. Dani’s parents once risked everything to cross the wall dividing the two islands and acquire forged identification papers so Dani could enroll at the Medio School for Girls. Now, she is graduating as the top Primera in her class, destined to run her future husband’s household and guaranteed a life of luxury.

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Book Review: Soul in Darkness

soul in darknessTitle: Soul in Darkness
 Wendy Higgins
Genre: New Adult/Romance/Fantasy
Version: Paperback
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Greek mythology retelling
Recommended Readers: Hmm… I cannot do this.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Oh, beautiful cover that matches my tastes, oh, Wendy Higgins, how did we go so wrong here?

First, the details. Soul in Darkness is a retelling of the Cupid/Psyche myth. Y’know, the one where Venus gets super jealous of this mortal princess, Psyche, because the people are worshiping her and praising her beauty over Venus? The one where Venus punishes Psyche by marrying her to a monster that she cannot see and is forbidden to touch, unaware that it’s Cupid, Venus’ son, in disguise? The one where Psyche breaks the rules and has to undergo a series of grueling tasks to prove to Venus that she truly loves Cupid, before she knew he was a beautiful god?

Okay, great, you’re caught up because the book follows the myth less like a retelling and more like a checklist.

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