It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! My last post like this was over a year ago now. I might try to do one of these every few months with a different challenge. It might help me weed out some of the books I’m no longer interested in, and it’s also just a lot of fun!
Today’s books were all picked for me by other people. I asked two family members and two friends to pick a book for me off owned TBR shelf on GoodReads. I didn’t know which books any of these guys would pick, and I was pleased when three of them picked out books that I’d owned for a while. The fourth book was a more recent purchase but is also the most anticipated release on this list. So it’s a good mix there.
Genre-wise…this list is all fantasy. I do own a lot of fantasy books, so this wasn’t a huge surprise. But it would have been nice to have a little something else on there. Especially when two of the books are very political fantasies involving marriages…yeah.
I will say that I mostly had good luck with this pile. So let’s get started!
Phoenix Extravagant – Yoon Ha Lee
The first book I picked up was one my brother picked for me. I know for a fact that he solely picked it as it had a cool cover. He couldn’t go through the list himself, so I asked him what type of book he wanted me to read. He said dinosaur, and I told him the closest I had was dragon books. That was fine with him. I then showed him the two books he could pick from…and he obviously went with this one.
This book follows Jebi, a painter who wants to take on a painting job with the ministry. When they get the job painting sigils onto their war automatons, Jebi discovers where the pigments for the paint comes from. Unable to accept this, they decide to steal the ministry’s dragon automaton and fight back against them.
The plot did sound a little weird, but I was interested. I also loved the fact that we follow a non-binary protagonist.
Unfortunately…that remained all I liked about it when I read the first chapter. The writing really didn’t work for me. It felt simple and repetitive, and I didn’t care. I know not very much happened in what I read, but I still should’ve been curious about what was going to happen. Instead, I didn’t even finish the first chapter.
There were some interesting elements. I like the hints we get from history. The conflict in this world seems to be inspired by the Japanese colonisation of Korea, even the things with the name changes. I found that fascinating and would have liked to have known more. I just didn’t want to actually read any more of it.
A Dragonbird in the Fern – Laura Rueckert
This was a book I got in a book box, but one I had been interested in myself. Yeah, the plot is very typical YA fantasy, but it still sounded fun, and I was curious. Add the fact that this book was blurbed by Sarah Glenn Marsh, a friend and a favourite author? Yeah, I was going to want to read this one.
Jiara’s older sister was assassinated, and now as the family mourns her, her vengeful ghost stalks the land. When Scilla’s former fiance visits the kingdom during the mourning period, it’s decided that Jiara must marry him instead for the sake of her people. She agrees, but she’s terrified as her dyslexia makes it hard for her to learn another language, and she fears being stuck in a country where she can’t communicate. But when evidence arises that suggests her sister’s killer may be in the King’s kingdom, Jiara decides to track him down to release her family and put her sister’s ghost at peace. That is unless the killer gets to her first.
The use of dyslexia? The vengeful ghosts? All this makes this novel feel like a standout YA fantasy. But the book itself, at least the first chapter, did feel very typical for the age range and genre. You get hints of what the ghost can do, and that was enough to grab my attention. But I’m not sure if this is a book I’m going to obsess over as much as I thought I would. Though I think that could change later in the book. Fingers crossed!
Crown of Coral and Pearl – Mara Rutherford
Having read another one of Rutherford’s books recently, I can say I’m even more excited about this book than I was when I bought it. A friend picked this one out for me as they adored it when they read it. They loved it to the point where an original story of theirs takes some inspiration from it. Which I find very cool. That said, the plot does read like your typical political fantasy. A girl takes the princess’s place, discovers her new husband isn’t who she expects and has to save her kingdom. The good things I’ve heard give me hope that the plot does take an original twist, but we’ll see.
This book follows Nor, a young girl who had been expected to marry the Prince until a scar meant that her twin sister would be the only choice. But Zadie is injured before she can leave, and Nor is sent in her place. In the palace, she discovers her new husband is cold and finds solace and friendship with his brother instead. But whilst there, she uncovers a plot by the kingdom to destroy the village her family is from, and she has to discover some way to stop them.
I am still curious about this book. The writing was easy to read, and I enjoyed meeting the characters. I found the focus on beauty for women was interesting as it’s not something you see often in fantasy books. Not so much now anyway. So we have a protagonist who knows she’s beautiful, aside from a little scar you can barely notice, and you know that’s going to be interesting.
I didn’t really have any thoughts or feelings when I read this book. Do I want to read on? Yes. Am I particularly excited? Eh. But I am curious to see what I’ll think compared to my friend.
The City of Dusk – Tara Sim
So, this was the book I was most excited to try out from this pile. It was also the most recent purchase. I have the Fairyloot edition, which is fine with me as I adored Tara Sim’s Scavenge the Stars duology. I’m very excited to see what she’s going to do in adult fantasy, and I have no doubts that this will be amazing.
In this world, there are four realms – light, darkness, life and death. All four of these realms and their gods converge upon the city of Dusk. Within the city limits, we follow four characters as they sacrifice everything they can in the hope of saving their city.
I don’t want to go into too much detail with the summary, as the first chapter only gave me a glimpse of one of the characters. There was an odd page-long paragraph to start with that intrigued me. But I can’t really tell you anything about it as I had no clue what was going on with the boy. But Risha? Risha seems interesting.
Risha is our necromancer, and we see her sneaking around the city with her brother. He buys some things, they get stolen, and she goes after the thief. Cue me shipping Risha and the thief as that seems fun. The use of language wasn’t too overly flowery or historical feeling, and it was just so easy to read. I can already tell though that this book is likely going to be dark and heavy on politics. I’m slightly concerned that by the time I get to it, I might not feel like reading something like this. But it definitely was the book from this pile that I am most excited about.