The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

35068705Title: The Poppy War

Series: The Poppy War #1

Author: R.F. Kuang

Pub Date: 2018

My Rating: ★★★★★

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

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The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

32594947Title: The Cows

Author: Dawn O’Porter

Pub Date: 2017

My Rating: ★★★★☆

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

COW n. /ka?/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.
It’s bold and brilliant.
It’s searingly perceptive.
It’s about never following the herd.
And everyone is going to be talking about it.

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

9781101916629_c32d2Title: Illuminae

Series: The Illuminae Files #1

Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

Pub Date: October 20, 2015

Honors:    

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ★★★★★

View on Goodreads | Buy on amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Book Depository


I don’t usually use copied synopses for my reviews, but in this case it is just too hard for me to present the story in a comprehensive way. So the synopsis from Goodreads must do.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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And I Darken by Kiersten White book cover

And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I DarkenAuthor: Kiersten White

Title: And I Darken

Pub Date: June 28th, 2016

Honors:  

Rating: ★★★★☆


This book surprised me. I was expecting a fast-paced adventure filled with fights, wars and deaths. I got that, but it was not the core of the book, at least for me. It was more about the growing up and life with all the struggles of a sibling – Lada and Radu. They are total opposites; Lada says that she is ‘no woman’, she can and loves to fight. Radu is much more delicate, beautiful, loved by everyone, able to talk with everyone and be trusted by them. I love how this book explores the private lives of the characters. We are with them throughout the childhood and teenage years (that back then were considered adult years), and we get to see how they change. How they love each other changes.

The story is very realistic, all the decisions that are made by the characters are strongly backed by the previous life events, by this character’s personality and desires. There was not a single moment when I was thinking -‘Wait, why the hell are you doing this like that?’. It all made sense, and in a lot of books I read recently, the decisions characters made didn’t make sense for me.
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Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter book cover

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Vassa in the NightTitle: Vassa in the Night

Author: Sarah Porter

Pub Date: September 2016

Rating: ★★★★☆


‘[…]I suddenly understand, I do want to be Vassa – or technically I want to make Vassa into somebody worth being. The only way to become that somebody is to live in a real, substantial world: a world that doesn’t follow orders, that’s just as willful and independent as I’m going to be. I can only become a whole girl in a place that offers resistance; a place that makes me fight for what I want.”

Vassa is living in Brooklyn that she describes as the most ordinary and boring place on earth, the only thing that is making her days a bit more colourful are her dyed purple hair. This world might seem very dull for Vassa, but it’s not your regular Brooklyn. She lives in a world with magic, even if she’s not exactly calling it that way. At the beginning of the book we learn that something happened to the Night, she lost part of herself and now nights seem to last much longer than normal. Vassa and her two sisters can go to sleep, wake up when it’s still night, have breakfast, watch some old black and white movies, go back to sleep and finally wake up in the morning. Night hours seem to drag very slowly, and no one knows why. Vassa also has a very close, special friend – a wooden talking doll! It’s a gift from her late mother. What is even more bizarre about the Vassa’s Brooklyn is that there is a shop that is located on chicken legs! Yes. You read that correctly.There is a grocery store that is sitting on chicken legs and it’s dancing, and if you want to get in, you have to sing a particular song that will convince the shop to kneel down and let you in. Also, in front of the store, in its parking lot are pales with heads on them. Real human heads, some of them decayed. Those are heads of people that were caught stealing in the shop…. Continue reading