Hi everyone! This is Emi's best friend Tammy (@panstitchual). We met during freshman year orientation at college and she's been stuck with me ever since. I'm primarily a crafter, but since I moved to Tennessee, I'm now a manager at a Books-A-Million. (Yes, that discount card is actually worth it as long as you use the coupons). I have asked Emi if I could guest blog since she'll be busy getting acclimated at Disney and she said yes! So let's get on to it. A review of the two and a half books I have read this year.
The first one I read was a recommendation by my friend Heather who I work with. She's also a self-proclaimed book nerd. It is "What Lies Beyond the Veil" by Harper L. Woods.
Once, we’d worshipped them as Gods.
For nearly 400 years, the Veil has protected us from the Fae of Alfheimr. In their absence, our lives have shifted from decadence and sin to survival and virtue under the guidance of the New Gods. I’ve spent my entire life tending to the gardens next to the boundary between our worlds, drawn to the shimmering magic like a moth to the flame.
Then, we died on their swords.
All of that changes the day the Veil shatters, unleashing the fae upon our world once again. The magic of faerie marks those of us they mean to take, but the Mist Guard protecting Nothrek will kill us all before they let the fae have us. There’s no choice but to flee everything I’ve ever known, not if I want to live to see my twenty-first birthday as a free woman.
Now, they’ll claim what’s theirs.
But before they capture me, Caelum saves me from the Wild Hunt. Fae-marked and on the run, he is able to fight back in ways I only dream of. From tentative alliance to all-consuming passion, our bond strengthens as the fae close in and evil lurks ever nearer. With my life on the line, he is everything I shouldn’t dare to want and a distraction I can’t afford. I can’t seem to stay away, not even with something greater on the line.
It was a fast read and I did enjoy it. It's soulmates in a dark way and a bit spicy near the end, but it definitely was a lot of world building and setting up for future stories. Good reads said it's basically "From Blood and Ash" by Jennifer Armentrout, but I don't read a lot and I definitely don't read Western fantasy so I thought it was quite pleasant. The progression near the end had me bingeing and not many books can catch my ADHD brain like that. ⅘ stars.
The second book I read was "Spin the Dawn" by Elizabeth Lim. It is the first in a duology and is a Mulan retelling.
Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she'll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.
Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia's task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor's reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.
I absolutely adored this book. I even finished it in two nights, which once again as a non reader was quite the feat. It was adventurous and the romance wasn't the main feature although it was appreciated. I felt like I was watching old Chinese fantasy films with my dad again with all the magic in there. My mother and Ông Ngoài were tailors too and had taught me and I loved the proper usage of the embroidery, sewing, and knitting terms. I won't spoil it, but the magical object that gets passed on was also one my Ông Ngoài had passed onto my mother. It felt like I was home with my family and I'm so excited to read the next one. 5/5 stars
The book I'm halfway done with is "Monkey King: Journey to the West". It's a classical Chinese fiction that's been translated into English. It's also one of my dad's favorite stories ever.
A shape-shifting trickster on a kung-fu quest for eternal life, Sun Wukong, or Monkey King, is one of the most memorable superheroes in world literature, known to legions of fans of the most popular anime of all time, Dragon Ball, and the world's largest e-sport, the video game League of Legends. High-spirited and omni-talented, he amasses dazzling weapons and skills on his journey to immortality: a gold-hooped staff that can grow as tall as the sky and shrink to the size of a needle; the ability to travel 108,000 miles in a single somersault. A master of subterfuge, he can transform himself into whomever or whatever he chooses and turn each of his body's 84,000 hairs into an army of clones. But his penchant for mischief repeatedly gets him into trouble, and when he raids Heaven's Orchard of Immortal Peaches and gorges himself on the elixirs of the gods, the Buddha pins him beneath a mountain, freeing him only five hundred years later for a chance to redeem himself: He is to protect the pious monk Tripitaka on his fourteen-year journey to India in search of precious Buddhist sutras that will bring enlightenment to the Chinese empire.
Joined by two other fallen immortals--Pigsy, a rice-loving pig able to fly with its ears, and Sandy, a depressive man-eating river-sand monster--Monkey King undergoes eighty-one trials, doing battle with Red Boy, Princess Jade-Face, the Monstress Dowager, and all manner of dragons, ogres, wizards, and femmes fatales, navigating the perils of Fire-Cloud Cave, the River of Flowing Sand, the Water-Crystal Palace, and Casserole Mountain, and being serially captured, lacquered, sautéed, steamed, and liquefied, but always hatching an ingenious plan to get himself and his fellow pilgrims out of their latest jam.
It's been a good read! Each chapter is like a mini story that adds to the overall story so it's easy to put down and back up. I originally heard of it on the Myths and Legends podcast so when I saw it come into the store I had to have it. And like I said, it's one of my dad's favorites and he's a huge reader. He had read the Vietnamese translation of it when he was a kid and is excited to talk to me about it.
That's all I got! Hopefully Emi will let me guest blog again once I've read some more! Here are my cat babies Crowley (gray) and Lila (brown tabby).