Jade City by Fonda Lee Book Review | A Collection of Nonlinear Snippets of Love

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Title: Jade City

Author: Fonda Lee

Date Published: June 26, 2018

Rating: 4.75/5.00

Synopsis:  Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for — and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now, the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone — even foreigners — wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones — from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets — and of Kekon itself.

Jade City is the first novel in an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.

Add it on Goodreads | Buy it on Book Depository

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Hello there allies, archenemies and, everyone in between! Today I’ll be spewing incoherent garbles of my love for this book. Initially, I would have done an eloquent and meticulous review for this work of art but due to unforeseen factors (i.e. life at summer school and life in general) I have to settle for this.

  • The family aspect of this book is the bomb. Totally relatable especially with how their sense of duty to the family comes first over their desires. I’m not saying I can relate because my family is like this, but it is rather the concept of “family first” mindset that’s so pervasive in the Philippines.

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  • In just a  matter of 3-4 bite-sized chapters, the characters and the main cast were quite well fleshed out with their distinct voice and motivations. Their personalities were all crystal clear because of Fonda’s depictions. It’s not just solely shown in their demeanor, profile, histories, but is explicitly studied from their interactions. I’m a sucker for well fleshed out relationships and characters; Jade City totally didn’t disappoint in this department.

Some beautiful quote

“Expectations are a funny thing,” Wen said. “When you’re born with them, you resent them, fight against them. When you’ve never been given any, you feel the lack of them your whole life.”

  • Gangsters? Clan Wars? This type of political setup is just so new to me as opposed to the usual kingdoms and whatnot in Fantasy. This aspect skirts different factors in its workings like how the business sector and patrons have a distinct role while it is interspersed with street politics. There is such a  unique playing field in this setup and I’ve gorged it up quite shamelessly.
  • The economic aspect was also well delivered here like YESSSS GURLL GIVE IT TO ME. The practicality in the conflict was one thing I really liked here. Kinda weird I know, but it’s nice to read about the wonders of bookkeeping and stats sometimes in a Fantasy driven world. It gives a sense of clear cut reality that grounds it.
  • Magic System on point! The way jade works are so nice to read. It’s not very unique that I may say, but the inner workings of the limits and ground rules of using it makes it all the more believable.
  • LAN. OHMYFCKINGGLOB. LAN.
FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF*
  • Usually, in books like these, I’m more attached with the reckless and black sheep character which is Hilo in this case. But the ever sensible, rational, heroic, humble, cunning, and fcking good-hearted Lan is the show stealer for me. I just really like him. Definitely someone whom I want to spend the rest of my life with HAHAHAHA. Idk why but he is such an endearing character. Thanks Fonda for introducing me to another fictional man I’m never ever going to meet irl.
  • The characters were all just well fleshed out that I can’t help but FEEL them as an intrinsic part in my humanity.
  • The writing is so easy to read, it’s not overwhelming and it’s not too flowery. It just pushes me to read and read and read and read AND BREATHE.

I’m so hyped up for Jade War??!?!?!?!?!?!?! I hope I could join the blog tour for it this year huhuhuhu I NEED IT. I CRAVE FOR IT. Also, this is by far the most disorganized review I wrote I’m mentally slapping my self for this incompetence. But it’s also pretty cathartic so there’s that?

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Never Die by Rob J. Hayes Book Review | Partly Entertaining, Mostly Dead To Me

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Title: Never Die

Author: Rob J. Hayes

Date Published: January 29, 2019

Rating: 2.50/5.00

Synopsis:  Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.

Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can’t do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.

Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper’s war.

Add it on Goodreads | Buy it on Amazon

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Hello there allies, archenemies, and everyone in between! This is officially the first book I’ve read for the #Avengersreadathon19 with the prompt “Book with a Colorful Cover” and while Never Die’s book cover has only a limited color palette, it is a freaking masterpiece. It’s so beautiful, I HAVE TO READ IT. Despite the fact that Never Die has a lot of high reviews in Goodreads though, I find myself in the minority.

Fast paced and Action Packed

Let me give you a glimpse of the prologue (which I think was golden!)

Prologue

Itami Cho woke to the screams of her own death. She remembered it all.

Yes. That was the whole prologue and I immediately got intrigued! The first few chapters were exceptionally crafted to propel the story into action without sparing any breath for flowery imagery. It was still beautiful though in its own way.

References Rich Asian Mythology in the World Building

There are a lot of Japanese references here and if you love anime, you’ll surely be squealing with delight! There’s a shinigami, there’s yokai, the art of wushu, martial arts, katanas, qui/chi/chakra and, A LOT MORE. This is the initial aspect that hooked me because I totally got most of the references!!! Rob J. Hayes may not be an Asian author but I’m sure as heck he did his research. ((I also lowkey think that he’s an avid anime fan and gamer))

Archetypal Characters With Lackluster Relationship Dynamics

Never Die has six main characters as you can see from that (gorgeous!) book cover. It was designed by Felix Ortiz and the typography is designed by STK.Kreations. Make sure to check out these artists’ page!

  • Itami Cho “Whispering Blade”

She is somewhat the quiet and contemplative type that has her own personal issues.

Some swords strike with a growl, some with a roar.

Some shake the battle like a rock slide, some bring ruin like a wild flame.

But there is one sword that passes with but a whisper, and you shall know it for it says:

Death has been here.

  • Zhihao Cheng “The Emerald Wind” 

The resident “outcast” here; Zhihao is I think supposed to be the most likable due to his morally grey nature. He denies the ways of a hero, yet deep inside wishes to belong.

Whither it blows, east to west or north to south, The Emerald Wind carries the stench of death.

Such is the way of those who prey on the living, and steal from the dead.

  • Chen Lu “Iron Gut”

Iron Gut Chen is honestly more of a comic relief for me.

To master one’s qi is to master one’s body.

To master one’s body is to master one’s self.

To master one’s self is to master one’s destiny.

Now bring me another chicken!”

– Iron Gut Chen, on the mysteries of qi.

  • Bingwei Ma “Master of Sun Valley”

The humble master, and somewhat embodies most of the desired heroic qualities.

None so strong and kind.

None so skilled, none so humble.

None so free of fear.

  • Roi Astara “Death’s Echo”

The unknown variable of the lot. I actually don’t like him that much.

Somewhere between the crack of thunder and the hammer striking the anvil, lies Death’s Echo.

Those who hear it have mere moments to describe the sound, for they are already dead.

  • Ein – The little boy who was the main game changer in this book.

As you can see I have sparingly described all of the main characters here. The very fact that they were assembled as a roster to defeat the Emperor aka the final boss entails that their relationship and camaraderie will have to evolve throughout the book. And this, for me, was where it fell short the most.

The characters were archetypal in nature for me. They may be morally ambiguous, but they were also the conventional types I often see in books, anime, and video games. Now, while that may be the case I had hoped that I would have been attached to them more with their relationship dynamics, which again, failed to deliver. There wasn’t enough banter or any relationship devices that made this little ragtag team cohesive. Their dialogues were also not engaging. I didn’t connect with them and I was most disappointed in this part because this kind of setup usually entails for the characters to build a relationship.

I adore character driven books than plot driven ones, but if they were perfectly blended it would definitely be a top-notch book. If only the characters relationship were well fleshed out, I think I would have loved this book.

Formulaic Plot Sequences 

This was very predictable and, tbh there’s nothing wrong with predictability as long as it delivers. Which it didn’t. Never Die is heavily dependent on the plot which made little room for character relationship. So naturally, since it already fell apart in the character aspect I hoped I could see more of the plot’s ingenuity; It has after all, a very intriguing premise. However, it was just like a video game where the characters meet and assemble, take on a trip and defeat the corresponding monsters. As the level rises the level of difficulty also increases, theeeeennn everyone will work together to defeat the final boss at the end of the lane.

I do know that this sequence is a staple, and a lot of books had also used this. Harry Potter does this, and PJO as well. This is definitely not a new plot sequence, but the way Never Die’s plot was laid out was pretty clean cut. Do this, do that, and we get to that. It’s frustrating and highly unentertaining.

Overall Verdict

I initially love this one, with its pacing and Asian references and themes but because this fell short in fleshing out the relationship of the characters, I ALMOST decided to DNF this. If you like anime, and Japanese mythology, I think you will fairly like this. For me, not so much.

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Avengers Readathon 2019 | Of Frantic Feels and Intimidating TBRs

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Hello there allies, archenemies, and everyone in between! Guess who’s impulsively been dragged on another reading challenge again by Justine @ Bookish Wisps????? Honestly, I couldn’t thank you enough for persuading me to read more. HAHAHAHA. Well, this one is so much more timely and exciting, especially that Avengers: Endgame is coming right up our alley next week! Tissues are ready, and I can’t wait for Ant-Man to do his “thing”. ALSO, THERE’S JUST GOING TO BE TOO MANY FEELS OOF. :>

This Avengers Readathon 2019 is made possible by Noura @ The Perks of Being Noura  you can head over her blog to sign up and read the details!!! The prompts are all laid out perfectly!

THE AVENGERS OF MY CHOOSING IS…

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BADUMM TSS. At first, I wanted to choose her AND Black Widow but who am I kidding????? I’ve got a lot on my plate now. ESPECIALLY SINCE I DON’T REALLY DO WELL WITH TBRs. Mood reader dilemma’s fam! I’ve also watched the movie and while I love the themes, I find myself not really loving it as I hoped to. IT’S STILL A MUST WATCH THOUGH!

Anyway here is my TBR which I dearly hope I’ll stick to. ((Plus, it took me 5 hours to contemplate and pick the books since I’ll have to plan all the other contingencies i.e. mood reading.))

First Female Hero: Feminist Read

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

I’m definitely with Justine in this pick. You could NOT ask for a more feminist book than this one. I mean duh? QUEENDOMS. MATRIARCHS. FEMALE WARRIORS. Also DRAGONS????
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Goodreads Blurb:

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

Kree: Book Set In Different Universe

Want by Cindy Pon

I’ve only read one short story from Cindy Pon which was absolutely a fave. (It’s a Chinese derivation of the Greek myth of Medusa) Want is set in an alternate dystopian Taiwan, and I’ve been there for a school trip last year!!! I’d love to see more of Taiwan from here.

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Goodreads Blurb:

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

Captain Marvel’s Suit: Book With Red, Blue or Yellow

Enchantée by Gita Trelease

This is a fantasy historical fiction speckled with all of Versaille’s grandeur! I fcking love that cover design and I’m all here for the world building and architecture!!! Also, it fits the prompt so perfectly AAAAAAHHHH.

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Goodreads Blurb:

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

Captain Marvel: New Release

Descendants of the Crane by Joan He

My most anticipated book of 2019!! Every book blogger I stan really loved this, so can you blame me??? Also check out Justine’s 119 Thoughts While Reading Joan He’s Descendant of the Crane post!!! I really got all hyped up because of it.

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Goodreads Blurb:

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

Carol Danvers: Badass Female Character

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

I actually want to read more high fantasy books by male authors this year. This is because I’ve ALWAYS read fantasy books by female authors which is nice but I also want to push my comfort zone!

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Goodreads Blurb:

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

Mar-Vell: Written by a Female Author of Color

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Also another anticipated book for this year! I love the diversity present in this one and I’m very excited to read about a Filipino character here!!!!!! It would be definitely a first! And that cover design is one to die for.

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Goodreads Blurb:

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history—but only if they can stay alive.

The additional prompts for Captain Marvel’s challenge are the following:

1 ASSIGNMENT FROM THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY PROMPT

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Andromeda Galaxy: Book with a Colorful Cover

Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

I am so in the mood for Asian inspired fantasy worlds!!! Which is why I particularly chose this book. This has also very convincing reviews from GR reviewers that I revere. Namely Petrik @ Novel Notions, he is such an eloquent reviewer and has very high standards. I aspire to be at the same level and knowledge with high fantasy as him!!!

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Goodreads Blurb:

Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.

Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can’t do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.

Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper’s war.

 

1 ASSIGNMENT FROM THE BLACK PANTHER PROMPT

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The Black Panther: Book with Royalty

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Nothing fits the prompt right than this book! A royal bastard hurhurhurhurrr my favorite booktuber Bec @ becklepanda actually persuaded me to read this.

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Goodreads Blurb:

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

1 ASSIGNMENT FROM ANY OTHER CHARACTER

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The Hulk: Book with Green on the Cover

Certainly the last BUT not the least…

Jade City by Fonda Lee

My all-time favorite Filipina book blogger Shealea @ Shut Up Shealea worshipped this book so much it pushed me to build this book blog HAHAHAHA. Welp. Definitely gonna watch out for this!!

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Goodreads Blurb:

Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for — and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now, the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone — even foreigners — wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones — from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets — and of Kekon itself.

Jade City is the first novel in an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.

Phew that was too much. As you can see there’s a lot of Asian theme going on and that’s because I’m trying to finish my #YARC2019 as well. I’m scared yet super excited to start and finish this readathon!!! I don’t know if I could pull this off in a month honestly but I GOT A FULL WEEK TO READ A LOT BEFORE OJT AND SUMMER CLASSES START. *fingerscrossed*

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