The first book was just delightful. I can’t wait to meet some Victorian Witches now.
Author Archives: bethlylou
Review: Babel by R.F. Kuang
I’m not sure where to begin with this novel. It was good but it didn’t grab the way The Poppy Wars did. I would have to say this is much more of a slow burner for me. I was almost half way through before I truly got interested in Robin’s story and wanting to know how it would end. From a young age, Robin was taken to England from China under the guardianship of Professor Lovell. Despite the fact his family was poor, they always had a lived in tutor to teach him English. He soon discovers that it Lovell who had been paying for her. When he is brought to England, he is immediately put to work to study languages as the end goal was for him to go to Oxford and join Babel, the translation school that controls all the silver in the world. England has found a way to use language to power silver and to expand their Empire. Robin goes on a journey of discovering who he is and how he has been essentially been weaponized against his own country. It’s not an easy read as Robin questions ourselves we also must question our own culpability. Like in the Poppy Wars, R.F. Kuang is unflinching when she comes to describing the effects of colonization on the world but also to people of color who live with their on colonizers. On the one hand, Robin is very lucky to be taken out of poverty and given the opportunities to be learn at Oxford and live a comfortable life but he was also taken from his family and his homeland without much of a choice and forced to learn what his guardian wanted him to learn. It’s an allusion of freedom. For me one of the most effective characters is Letty. She is in Robin’s cohort at Oxford and the only white student. She is the perfect example of white privilege and not understanding her privilege. She is the daughter of an admiral. Raised on the aristocracy but because she is a woman she has always been looked down or given much thought even though she was always a bright. If she was a boy, she would have been seen as the genius that she was but since she wasn’t she was raised to be the perfect wife and mother one day. She resents the privileges that she saw her brother waste and when she is given the opportunity to take his place in Oxford she grabs it. But even there she has to have a man vouch for her to take out a book at the library. She has to live off campus and has to deal with sexist comments. She felt she finally found people who could relate with her POC classmates but being white she will never truly understand their struggles. So when they start to rebel against the nation that she feels has given so much instead of them being grateful she feels betrayed. As if they have personally offended her. Even though she helps to cover up the same crime she is spared any of the backlash because again she is white and still she doesn’t understand why they have right to be angry. I can see why Letty as a character would upset many readers because we have to confront our own privilege and that’s not a comfortable thing. So If you are looking for a challenging book, give this a try.
What I’m Reading Now: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton
After Babel. I think I need something a little lighter and this seems lovely.
Quick Review: Chain of Thorns by Cassandra Clare
This was the last book in the Last Hours trilogy and honestly, it’s a good thing. I don’t think I really connected to any of these characters as much as I have with other characters in Clare’s other Shadowhunter’s novel. It’s not that I think they were not interesting. I appreciate that she continues to populate her books with a diverse set of characters, even in Edwardian London but maybe there are so many times you can save the world. I realize that these books takes places in different eras throughout history but it’s like the later generations have no idea of what happened before them. Which is weird since history since so important to Shadowhunters. So this was fine. It ended as I expected. They saved the world. Mos of them survived. Set up was made for not just the previous books that we already know what will happened and the next series coming out in a couple of years. Maybe I’m ready to move on from series as they are becoming predictable.
What I’m Reading Now: Babel by R.F. Kuang
I remember this being big on Booktok last summer and how many men did not like it and and that just made it more interesting to me. After starting this, I feel like this is also up Kate’s alley too.
What I’m Reading Now: Chain of Thorns by Cassandra Clare
Truth be told I’m actually almost finish with this one. I’ve just been bad at posting.
Quick Review: Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye
Sloane is a scion in a world that has tried to erase them. She has powers believe to come from one of her people’s Gods but all traces of their heritage have been all but erased by a Colonial like authoritarian regime that has taken over her country. To make matters worst she has been drafted into a child’s army in service of her oppressors. She has to hide who she is while trying to survive basic training. This book is not for the faint of heart. It does have a trigger warning because the topics of Child Army, sexual assault and violence and doesn’t shy aware from any of these things. The very first chapter there is an attempted Rape. The death count in this novel is very high. Al I can say is don’t get too attached to any characters. As a hard of a read to get through, I found myself spellbound by it. I had to know what Sloane was going to do next and hope that things would work out for her. Well, that’s yet to pan out and this is only the first book in the series. I didn’t know that when I started it. The sequel can not come out soon enough.
Quick Review: Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
Hell Bent picks up a few months after the end of The Ninth House. Alex is still looking for Darlington who is still somewhere on the other side. Alex and Dawes will do anything to get him back but of course nothing goes right. To complicate things even more, Alex is also dealing with the consequences of the past and juggling both at the same time. I like this series . It’s dark and crazy and never goes where you think it will. Alex is so smart. Her life experience is so different from everyone else in Yale and is why she is underrated but also why she ultimately succeeds because she’s a survivor. I liked that. I am sorry that as a character has had to go through so much trauma but I can’t help but admire her ability to think her way out of a situation. To fight with all that she has and how to bring people together. She may not be the most ethical but she knows how to get things done. So yeah this is a great series and I’m looking forward finding out how it will end.
What I’m Reading Now: Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye
I bought this book on a whim and so far it has been very good. Brutal but good.
Review: Legendborn and Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn
What can I say about this series that the internet hasn’t already said? It’s great! Amazing! Spellbinding! I truly love it and there better be a third novel. I read that it was conceived as trilogy but I have yet to read any announcement of when the next book will be released. So crosses fingers!
Bree has just lost her mother in a car accident and is grieving in when her and her best friend, Alice start classes at Early college program at University of North Carolina. Bree immediately starts noticing strange things around campus and can’t help but think it might be connected to her mother’s death. With the help of Nicolas, the boy who is supposed to mentor her, work together to infiltrate a secret society based around King Arthur and Round Table and well things are more than what she bargained for.
This novel not only goes into the myth of Arthur but also the brutal of history of slavery and racism. This may be 21st century America but the legacy of Slavery is still far too close to us. Bree does what she has to do to fit in and has the right heritage but will never be fully accepted because of the color of her skin. It’s a complicated history that I can never do justice here. The other major theme of this series is Grief and generational trauma. Which seems to be a trend among popular media these days but that’s another essay. We begin the series with Bree being angry about her mother’s death and needs someone to blame for it and the society with all it’s money and trappings is the perfect target. She’s not entirely wrong for blaming them but not for the reason she thinks. This is really her journey to get herself through the trauma of it and coming out the other side. I highly recommend it for all fantasy fans looking for a new take a old story because it is a quite a ride.