Obscure-ish Fears of An Online Book Person (ft. solutions)

This will probably be deleted, however, I need to get my thoughts out there:

  1. What if I tag authors too much? Well, authors don’t have to respond to me, but it’s cool if there is a possiblity!
  2. What if everyone is secretly talking about me? Ha. Everyone? This is where I have to tell my ego to go away for a moment because 1. This isn’t middle school, and 2. Sometimes your mind messes with you.
  3. What if I need a Twitter to grow my blog? Untrue. Also, somehow I hit 70 followers? Nice!! Thanks to everyone for sticking around.
  4. What if I don’t read enough? Well, most of the books I’ve read this year have been awesome since my goal is smaller, so I’d say I am reading the perfect amount because I haven’t wasted a lot of time on bad books/books I didn’t like.
  5. What if people think I’m doing this for fame/clout? Once again, my ego is in the way. Stop it, ego! I know that I am doing this for myself and no one else, and that’s what matters most.
  6. Do people actually want to be my friend? Yeah, you’ve maintained connections with people for over a year, so I’d say I am at least acquainted with them. (Note: there are so many Internet friends I want to meet. BookCon 2022, anyone?)
  7. What if all the ideas get taken? Doesn’t matter. I have the ability to put my own unique additions to these ideas.
  8. What if people are faking being my friend? Hmmm. Would someone who you’ve known FOR A YEAR fake being my friend?
  9. Am I too cling-y? Oh gosh. I need to let go of my middle school nightmares. Seriously.
  10. What if people think I’m online too much? Lucky for everyone, that’s going to change because school starts tomorrow!

Anyway, this is how I get my brain to slow down. The Internet is not real life. I will definitely be doing some in-depth posts about school so all of you can get to know me a bit more beyond reading, which is my main hobby. I have no posting schedule, except the book tours I need to participate in and a few ARCs I need to review. Other than that, expect about 3-4 posts a week, probably one to two during exam times. Thank all of you for following me!! The best place to talk if you want is through DMs on bookstagram: I am @/solaceinreading_.

Iron Heart by Nina Varela: Caffeine Book Tours

This post plus this blog post took 2+ hours! It’s the most I have ever worked on a book tour. Goes to show that this is an amazing book.

DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED A FREE ARC AS A PART OF THIS TOUR FOR THIS TOUR. THANK YOU CAFFEINE BOOK TOURS. THIS DID NOT INFLUENCE MY OPINION OF THIS BOOK. NO SPOILERS FOR IRON HEART IN THE REVIEW SECTION. SPOILERS FOR CRIER’S WAR.

Book Information

Title: Iron Heart
Author: Nina Varela
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: 08 September 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Synopsis:

An unstoppable love between two girls—one human, one Made—both set on destroying the Iron Heart.

For too long the cruel, beautiful Automae have lorded over the kingdom of Rabu, oppressing the humans who live there. But the human revolution is on the rise, and at its heart is Ayla. Once handmaiden, now fugitive, Ayla escaped the palace of Lady Crier, the girl Ayla had planned to kill . . . but instead fell in love with. Now Ayla has pledged her allegiance to Queen Junn, whom she believes can accomplish the ultimate goal of the human rebellion: destroy the Iron Heart. Without it, the Automae will be weakened to the point of extinction.

But playing at Ayla’s memory are the powerful feelings she developed for Crier. And unbeknownst to her, Crier has also fled the palace, taking up among travelling rebels, determined to find and protect Ayla.

As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.

In this stunning sequel to acclaimed author Nina Varela’s Crier’s War, the love that launched a revolution must now pave the way for a whole new era . . . and the ultimate change of heart.

Review

Oh my gosh. I just finished this book yesterday, so everything is fresh in my mind. I do not have the words for this. Here is my review of Iron Heart by Nina Varela:

Crier’s War is by far one of the best debut YA novels of 2020. I fell in love with fantasy that focuses on royals again because of how amazing Varela is at writing: the worldbuilding, plot, and characters were so captivating. Now that is a trio. Master those three elements, and I am sure to love your book.

At the end of Crier’s War, Crier and Ayla were separated (crying face). Ayla and Benjy were going to Varn and Crier was planning to take down Kinok. I absolutely LOVE where Iron Heart starts off because it really feels like a natural flow from the end of Crier’s War to the beginning of Iron Heart. I knew Iron Heart was off to a great start.

And oh my gosh. Iron Heart is amazing from beginning to end. I felt the full range of emotions while reading this beautiful and perfect sequel. First of all, the world seems massively larger in this one because of the new locations we see and the new characters we meet. I LOVE travel in fantasy books because in the case of Iron Heart, I felt like I was actually traveling along with the characters. Furthermore, Varela is amazing at writing descriptions because, again, I feel like I am able to escape into every facet of this world, including the Queendom of Varn, and into the history of the world with the tidbits of history sprinkled throughout the book in between the chapters.

As for the plot, WOW. I love the fact that Iron Heart was faster paced because Crier’s War set up Iron Heart perfectly to do this. Crier’s War drew you slowly into a beautiful but deadly world by introducing the characters and the politics of the world, and Iron Heart takes you farther into how complex this world is with a plot that will have you gasping for breath (yeah. I felt very emotional when reading this book because I would scroll through the pages on my computer and felt so captivate. I finished this book in one sitting). Varela balances the political intrigue and action so well. The duality of Crier’s War and Iron Heart is what makes them work so well together: they complement each other.

Finally, the characters. Omg. I really wanted the best for Crier and Ayla and rooted for them the entire time. I love the fact that their personalities work so well together, and it feels like you are right beside them as they go on their journies throughout Iron Heart. I could read a book about them doing anything and be in love with them. Additionally, the sibling and friendship relationships!! Varela writes such beautiful relationships that made me realize that you should tell the people you love that you love them (yes, I am so soft over this duology).

All three of these elements work so well to create a stunning finale that will leave you on the floor as a pining and yearning mess.

Thinking Creatively

Books I Think Crier and Ayla Would Read.

I had so much fun making this photo! The stars represent Crier and Ayla’s star-crossed romance in Crier’s War, and the roses represent, well, romance! Once I get a copy of Iron Heart, I am taking so many pictures with it.

This feature is to take what I saw in Iron Heart and apply it further. There are so many books that I think Crier and Ayla would read based on [redacted] which happnes [redacted]. (If you’ve read the book, you know which part I am thinking of.) I chose these books for: their top tier world building and political intrigue.

  1. The Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy: I mean. The worldbuilding in the Crier’s War duology and the Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy? Amazing. I could live in these worlds forever, and they are vastly different fantasy worlds with unique plots and characters. Who do I think would read this? I think both Crier and Ayla. These are worlds where girls learn and advocate for themselves and each other. I feel like Ayla wouldn’t be afraid to yell at some of the character’s choices in Girls of Storm and Shadow, while Crier would smile softly at her. At the end, they would both comfort each other, and then read. . .
  2. The Never Tilting World duology: HELLO CRIER AND ODESSA BONDING? LAN AND AYLA BONDING? HELLO THE FOUR OF THEM? Wow, I need to write this fanfic. Crier and Ayla would 100% read The Never Tilting World and then develop a way for them to meet Odessa and Lan. Crier and Ayla would surely read this together, and I think they would definitely read it in one sitting. While Crier and Odessa are both princesses, they are quite different characters with different motivations, and I think their friendship would be amazing. They could discuss how it’s different/similar being a goddess who is also a princess and an Automa, who is also a princess. Meanwhile, Lan and Ayla would bond over how much they like to learn about the history of their worlds.

One of my goals is to write a fully fleshed out fanfiction where Crier, Ayla, Lan, and Odessa meet at some point in this tour to flesh out this idea a bit more. I had so much fun thinking about how I could take Iron Heart and think about it even more because this duology is going to stick with me for the rest of my life.

Nina Varela’s Biography:

Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays, short fiction, poetry, and novels. In May 2017, she graduated magna cum laude from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a BFA in Writing for Screen & Television. Crier’s War was her debut, and this is the sequel. She is originally from Durham, North Carolina, where she grew up on a hippie commune in the middle of the woods. She now lives in Los Angeles.

Author Links

Book

Thank you so much for reading! Here is the link to the tour schedule: https://caffeinebooktours.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/iron-heart-tour/. I hope you will follow along with the other tour hosts because this is my favorite tour I’ve been on.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee: Colored Pages Blog Tour

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee: cover.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy as a part of this tour. This did not impact my opinion, review, or anything else in any way. SPOILER FREE!

Title: We Are Not Free
Author: Traci Chee
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Genres: Historical YA Fiction 

Synopsis

All around me, my friends are talking, joking, laughing. Outside is the camp, the barbed wire, the guard towers, the city, the country that hates us. 

We are not free. 

But we are not alone.”  

From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes We Are Not Free, the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei,  second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II. 

Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco. 

Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted. 

Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps. 

In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.

Review

I went into this book with very little knowledge of what happened to Japanese people in the U.S. during WWII. I read a book for younger kids of a child at an incarceration camp about ten years ago, but as I read We Are Not Free, I soon realized that that other book was only one story about how people of Japanese ancestry were impacted by being forced into incarceration camps for years.

We Are Not Free details the lives of fourteen teens in these incarceration camps. What Traci Chee does with these fourteen POVs is amazing. All fourteen captivated me, and made me realize that there is a lot more to this time period in U.S. History than what I’ve been taught in schools. Yes, all fourteen of these teenagers are second-generation Japanese American citizens, and they all have different personalities and voices that are real. Because this is a real event in history.

The main themes I loved were hope and friendship. Chee allows her characters to be vulnerable and writes the human connection that really draws the reader into the story. This is a book that focuses on how friendships can be formed anywhere, and these teens did not have to be strong all the time. Hope can coexist with pain.

One storyline that I had no idea about before reading this book was that Japanese teens in these incaraceration camps were drafted into the U.S. military. Reading this storyline really impacted me, as did the entire book. I do want to talk about the author’s note as well: I hope every reader reads all the way through because Traci Chee dedicated a lot to this book. I also love the fact that Chee included a “Further Reading” and “Image Credits” section.

Overall, this book needs to be read. As someone who is going through high school in the U.S., this is a book I want to see in my classes for history and reading because to be perfectly honest, a lot of Asian American history is ignored, and it is disappointing that the incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry during WWII isn’t talked about more (at least in the school that I am at). I will 100% be advocating for Traci Chee’s book to become a part of my school’s curriculum because there is more to U.S. History than we’ve been taught.

Book Recs Based on We Are Not Free

  1. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee: This is one of my favorite books of 2019. Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid during the day and is an advice columnist by night. Jo is a Chinese American girl who lives in Atlanta around the year of 1890. Highly recommend. I am very pleased to see more books about Asian Americans in history.
  2. Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lại: This book is about Hằng and her search for her brother, Linh. “In the final days of Việt Nam War,” Hằng and Linh go to the airport. Linh is taken to the U.S., and Hằng arrives in the U.S after him. Six years later, Hằng and Linh reunite. Butterfly Yellow is about family and friendships, and how your feelings matter.
  3. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee: I read this in 2016 as part of a Battle of the Books reading list, and it is one of my all time favorite historical novels. Mercy Wong is a Chinese girl who lives in San Francisco in 1906 in Chinatown, and is a motivated 15 year old. When an earthquake uproots her life and school, Mercy wonders what she can do to help. Just thinking about this book makes me want to re-read it.

I chose these three books because in the U.S, the history of Asians living in the U.S. needs to be taught more. These books, along with We Are Not Free, are helping grow the number of books about this subject. Asians have been in the U.S. for a long time, and this history needs to be learned. It is important to note that all of these books tell very different stories. There are so many parts of the history of Asians in the U.S., and this is vital to keep in mind.

Links to Buy:

Author:

Traci Chee is the New York Times best-selling author of The Reader trilogy. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. She is Japanese American and was inspired to write We Are Not Free by her family’s experience during World War II. Some of the events she includes in the book are loosely inspired by their stories. She loves books, poetry and paper crafts, as well as bonsai gardening and games. She lives in California.

Author Links

Website: http://www.tracichee.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6567825.Traci_Chee 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tracicheeauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tracichee
Tumblr: https://tracichee.tumblr.com/ 

Tour Schedule

August 30th

Book Rambler – Welcome post & interview
Mellas Musings – Favorite quotes 
Debjani’s Thoughts – Review Only 
Sophie Schmidt – Review in Gifts

August 31st

The Reading Fairy – Review Only
Her Book Thoughts – Favorite Quotes
What Irin Reads – Review Only

September 01st

Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Author Interview 
The Confessions Of A Music And Book Addict – Review Only 
Emelie’s Books – Mood Board
Too Much Miya – Fanart /Art related to the story

September 2nd

Yna the Mood Reader – Favorite Quotes
The Writer’s Alley – Review Only
Marshmallow Pudding – Favorite Quotes

September 3rd

Div Reads – Reading vlog
Clairefy – Review Only 
Know Your Books – Favorite Quotes 

September 04th

READING (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICA – Book Recommendations Based on Book 
Per_fictionist – Favorite Quotes
Mamata – Review Only

September 05th

Wilder Girl Reads – Review Only 
Solace in Reading – Book Recommendations Based on Books 
A Fangirl’s Haven – Review Only

Being a Teen Blogger/Bookstagrammer

Disclaimer: This is my personal experience. This is about me and only me!

Ok. I really did not think about my age until this year when I started to join Discord servers, and other things. I really didn’t interact a lot until last fall, when I actually started to comment and join street teams, which is a lot of fun. However, there are drawbacks to being a teen in a community where most of the people speaking are adults and teens who are popular with over 1k followers on all of their platforms (or at least that’s what I see).

I love this community. I really do. However, sometimes I feel as though you have to be a specific type of person in order for authors and other bloggers/bookstagrammers to want to work with you: smart, kind, funny, over 1k followers on every platform, cute name, cute aesthetic, put together, not on too much, not on too little, not dramatic, and all of these other things all at once. I am not a very humorous person, and when I try, I feel as though people don’t care or are judging me and thinking that I am:

  1. immature
  2. too young
  3. don’t want to interact with me because I sound strange.

And listen, getting over this as a teen who gets overwhelmed very easily by social media is challenging. I get scared that my irl people who are following me are screenshotting my posts and making fun of me in group chats or that other people are making fun of me or that authors are making fun of me. I still get middle school flashbacks from all of my fake, gossipy friends. I get it, you might be like “that was 5 years ago! get over it!” But this is all on social media, which lasts forever. I might look confident, but that’s just an image. If some of you met me in real life, you might think that I am a cold, standoffish person because it’s hard for me to trust people because of what happened in middle school and a little bit in high school.

And some of you might think, “wow! she’s so overdramatic!” I ask you to consider this: if you were in my shoes and seeing teens constantly getting more shoutouts, ARCs, likes, comments, followers, praise, friends than you at a time in which teens are expected to just accept the fact that the government is controlling what we see and hear, I am wondering how you would feel.

I almost considered deleting everything in August, which would have been a terrible choice because I really have made great friends, which I know are more important than connections and getting ARCs and free stuff. Like, people want you to have the mentality that you’re doing this for yourself and that it should make you happy, but it’s been challenging to see how easily some teens can make friends and I’m over here in my small corner of the Internet.

Then I remind myself:

  1. The internet is not real life.
  2. I have friends in real life.
  3. I am doing this because I love books.

Love of books. That’s what got me into bookstagram anyway. Not the promise of friends, or fame, or being noticed. Books. Because all my life, when I had no friends, books were the only thing that kept me going somedays. And sure. Everyone at school doesn’t know me at all. It’s ok though, because I feel as though while I want to live in the real world, books are the one way for me to truly escape while also acknowledging reality.

Whatever. This is a ramble and I know people don’t care. Overall, being a teen blogger/bookstagrammer comes with needing to let go of wanting more and more of holding on to your purpose of why you’ve started this in the first place. I guess, as I get ready to go into junior year, that I need to let go of all of the fun times I had this summer, and all of you should know that I am not going to be online as often as I am now. Three AP classes + Dual Enrollment is a lot, and I need to get through it. However, being an online book lover and a school loving nerd are things that can coexist, as long as I remember my purpose in being here.

Creating a Bookstagram

I started my bookstagram in December 2018. Back then, I sort of had a layout but didn’t know what I wanted to focus on. It took a while to get to where I am now. There have been times where I’ve wanted to quit entirely, but as soon as I did, I knew I didn’t want to throw it all away (which is why breaks are SO IMPORTANT).

Bookstagram is definitely the book platform I’ve contributed the most time to. The most important “rule” you should have is to just do what you want to do, use your platform, listen to others, and compare yourself to you. Also, please make a close friends list!! Mine is pretty small and I really am friends with all of them.

Anyway, here’s what I wish I knew before starting a Bookstagram:

  1. It takes time to build your platform.

    Please don’t be discouraged if you see people with more followers than you. Chances are, the people with over 1k followers have been there for at least a year, and those with over 10k followers are able to post everyday. I used to compare myself to others, but now I know that it’s better to spend time on building your platform rather than spend time keeping track of how many followers you have everyday. I can write a more in-depth article on how to find your niche if any of you would be interested.
  2. Make friends!

    I have been able to create more personal connections on bookstagram because of DMs, and also because I would rather interact with one person at a time instead of a lot of people at once. Bookstagram is for you if you want to be able to find people with the same interests as you quickly. Even if we don’t know each other well, I still want to talk to you about books.
  3. Interaction is key.

    Listen, if someone wants to DM me about something in my story that they find cool, I will always be so flattered (there are exceptions if people are being creeps, but that is not what this is about). I used to just like every single post, and now I spend more time commenting (this goes for blogs too) on what I am truely interested in! This isn’t to say you have to be on Instagram all day, although I have been way more active because of summer break and quarantine.
  4. Your like to comment to follower ratio will be all over the place.

    I know people with 600 followers who get hundreds of likes and comments! I know people with 1.6k followers who get 300+ likes and around 50+ comments. For me? I have nearly 1.2k followers with an average of 65 likes and 10 comments. That is ok! A lot of people who follow me are inactive, but what matters are the relationships you make more than having 100+ people you don’t know like your posts.
  5. Post a lot at the beginning and then find a rhythm. Repeat this process after you’ve been inactive.

    Here’s the thing: This year, I had a goal of getting to 2,000 followers. Now, I don’t care as much about reaching milestones because I want people who are genuinely interested in following me and not just doing follow for follows. HOWEVER, it is ok to want to build up your platform! During March to May, I was so busy with school that I just didn’t post a lot. In July, I posted everyday and twice a day on some days, and I did gain a lot of followers. The key is to be consistent, but don’t get caught up in thinking you NEED to post on certain days. (If you are interested in a post about how to find your aesthetic or photography style, please tell me!)

Overall, that is my bookstagram advice. I really want people to feel encouraged to make one. It’s quite a nice community, and I’ve made some really great connections and friendships. If you want to reach out, you can DM me @solaceinreading_! I will not be super active this September, as I am going back to school, but will still be liking/commenting on others’ posts when I have time.

Do you have any questions about bookstagram?

Character Analyzation #1: Rin from The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang cover! Love this edition.

Repost because I re-started my blog! The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang is one of my favorite fantasy novels and series of all time. The worldbuilding and plot are amazingly done, and the characters are well fleshed out, ruthless, killers. I spent a good half hour writing this, so that was a lot of fun. This character analyzation of Rin from TPW and The Dragon Republic will include massive spoilers for both books. Please do not read on if you have not read both books. Turn back now. Also, TW for mentions of: genocide, death, murder, torture, abusive people, and violence.

Ok. At the beginning of TPW, Rin is just trying to get out of her province and away from the abusive people who take care of her. I loved how Rin dedicated herself to her studies in the beginning. From the very start, we see a girl (she is 16 at the beginning) who is willing to do anything to achieve her ends. And I mean a n y t h i n g. She uses hot wax to keep herself awake and stays up for hours and days to memorize what she needs to know to for the test she needs to get into Sinegard Academy, the empire’s top military academy.

And she is the only student from her province accepted because she scores the highest. As someone who is super dedicated to school, I loved seeing a smart character who was very motivated (especially a brown skinned, Asian coded character). Once Rin gets to Sinegard, she is intimidated by how all of the other students seem better than her. However, she quickly gets over this. I mean, this girl decides to get rid of her uterus in order to stay focused on her studies. I’ve seen reviews saying this is anti-feminist. However, I see this action as more related to how someone will survive in a ruthless world. After all, we see that Rin was the top scorer in her province, so it makes sense that she would take this action. Additionally, Rin is one of three girls at Sinegard, and I see this as an advantage for Rin (as someone who gets a period, I know that they are VERY painful and bothersome).

As we progress throughout Part 1, Rin continually rises to the top at Sinegard. At the beginning, I found Rin easy to root for since she, well, hadn’t used a god to commit genocide against an entire country (although her thought process behind this is SUPER nuanced, and something I will be writing about as we go through this). She is smart, willing to do whatever it takes, and uses the library. The inner nerd in me (Perhaps I shall do an analyzation of Kitay next?) felt so happy about this.

I know anyone reading this has read the first two books, so I am going to gloss over some stuff and get straight to three points: Rin’s battle with Nezha is one of her turning points into ruthless goddess (yes, she is a goddess. Or at least I hope she will be on in The Burning God.). She finds out she is one of the last surviving Speerlies, from Speer, which was destroyed by a genocide led by the Federation of Mugen. This motivated the Republic of Hesperia to act with the Trifecta. (Also: Hesperia is a clear allegory for the U.S. colonizing/getting involved in war at the last minute.) Rin is connected with the Phoenix, which I found represents renewel, ressurection, and victory (TBG theory: Rin will be reborn and we will think that she is dead OR she will make a sacrifice play to save Kitay or Venka.). Rin develops these powers to connect with the gods, but her mentor does not want her to use her massive powers, which could destroy the world.

Anyway, Rin graduates from Sinegard and the third Poppy War begins. She uses her powers against a general who won’t die, and also sees her mentor fall. This is another turning point for Rin because while she couldn’t control her power, she knew for certain she wanted this Mugenese general to die and suffer. Rin gets sent to work with the Cike in a coastal city, which is led by Altan, a survivor of the Speerly genocide, and the only other Speerly left. Let me tell you: Altan was so unexpected to me because I expected him to be this boring commander who thought he knew everything, like most of the characters who might be like him. What I got was someone very different. Rin’s relationship with Altan seemed like her first true connection/maybe friendship of TPW. They both survived the destruction of their people, but ended up in very different places. Both of them are ruthless, however, there is a moment in Part 2 where I knew Rin had turned to a dark and brutal killer: when they saw the destruction of Golyn Niis. Seeing all of that destruction after hearing about what happened to her people changed the Rin on page one to someone as dedicated to someone still dedicated, but also a brutal person who you should avoid. Additionally, Venka’s talk with Rin after was so brutal to read, and I cannot imagine what Rin was thinking about the Mugenese in that moment except for the fact that she wanted to destroy all of them.

Also, Altan dies. So here’s Rin, all alone, after being tortured, in a cold ocean, swimming to Speer to destroy the Mugenese with the Phoenix god. I mean, the amount that Rin changed makes sense to me! Here is someone who knows genocide destroyed her people, saw ruthless acts in school, saw Nezha die, saw the complete destruction and murder of Golyn Niis, got captured and tortured (and saw Altan tortured), and saw Altan die. No one person could handle all of that, and that is why Rin’s actions make sense (although it is a war crime. So please keep that in mind). She uses the Phoenix god and has the Phoenix commit genocide on her behalf against the Mugenese. This completes Rin’s dark descent.

Next, we go into TDR. The pace of this book was a lot slower but with some action, which I liked. I found that there were less vivid descriptions (but still take heed if you read this!!). Anyway, Rin is living with the aftermath of her choice, but it seems like she is ignoring it. Which again makes total sense!! She knows genocide happened to her people, she knows the horrors of war, and yet she did the same thing! I can’t argue whether or not she was in a position to use a god to cause a genocide in a second because it makes sense that Rin wanted revenge. She wanted revenge for all of her people who died in the genocide against the Speerlies. I understand her actions, but still condone them.

So Rin is ignoring her choice and feels horrible in about the first 50 pages of TDR. However, Nezha and Kitay come back, and it seems like she’s still angry but is controlling it to kill the empress. The empress does not die and Rin kills Feylen. The two biggest moments of this book are 1. Nezha’s betrayal, and 2. Rin saying she is the most powerful force on the planet.

How do these events/words impact Rin’s characterization? Well. Rin obviously hated Nezha in school, and then he came back, and then they worked together, and then he LITERALLY stabs her in the back! I mean. Rin has a right to be angry. I am! I hate character betrayals, and that is why I hate Nezha and don’t ship him and Rin. Rin is a strong goddess all on her own, and it’s amazing how quickly she turned on Nezha, although, once again, this makes sense because she’s chosen to work with the bloodthirsty Phoenix god. This goes into reason number 2.

Rin knows that she is powerful, she wants bloodshed, and she wants the South to war against the Dragon Warlord (who wants democracy. That’s probably not going to happen in TBG). This is probably the hugest moment other than the genocide at the end of TPW because now Rin has completed? maybe? her ARC from angry peasant to angry, bloodthirsty goddess. Once again, this makes perfect sense: add up the events of book one, take the bloodshed and betrayal of book 2, everything Rin has seen/heard about her people, the Speerlies, and you get a very brutal person you do not want to cross.

Overall, this analyzation is meant to make me think about Rin more. Rin is sooo complicated, and is one of the best hero-villain combos. You are not meant to root for her actions, but I think you are meant to feel some sympathy for someone who’s been through a lot as a younger person. While she makes all of the choices, I feel like her circumstances and choices put her in a position where she was tired of being stepped on. This isn’t mean to excuse her actions, and that is why Rin is one of the most compelling characters to read about. We know she isn’t the villain, yet she’s commited really appalling actions. “Power is getting to higher places than those who’ve stepped on you.” This quote fits with Rin 1000000%! What do I think will happen to her in The Burning God? Stay tuned for my TBG top 5 theories post next week. I do feel like it’s a bit synopsis heavy, so any advice is appreciated for my next character analysis: comment if you want Nezha or Kitay.

Do you agree? What do you think will happen in TBG? Do you want more of these?

Whimsical Wrap-Ups #1: August 2020

My favorite book of August that I own.

Everyone, I am just trying to come up with a cute name for this series of posts that will talk about my end of the month accomplishments/goals. Whimsical and Solace are words that go together-ish, right? Also, I coded part of this and now I get why the block editor is challenging.

Wikathon

I only finished two books: The Girl From the Well and Where Dreams Descend (WDD wasn’t even on my TBR). Both were amazing! However, I was doing so well with this readathon and then I got sidetracked by social media and now I am upset. On a more positive note, I am still going to finish PSON, WAYW, and TGW because they are some of my favorite books of all time

Books I Need to Finish in September

There are too many. Here’s a list:

  1. A Blade So Black – Since June
  2. Aru Shah and the End of Time – Since June
  3. Crier’s War – Since June
  4. Descendant of the Crane – Since June
  5. Patron Saints of Nothing – Since July
  6. The Gilded Wolves
  7. Hungry Hearts
  8. Night of the Dragon
  9. White Fox
  10. Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From
  11. White Fox
  12. Iron Heart – started in August
  13. The Damned
  14. A Torch Against the Night
  15. Goddess in the Machine
  16. The Best Laid Plans
  17. The Dragon Republic
  18. From Twinkle, With Love
  19. Late to the Party
  20. There’s Something About Sweetie
  21. We Are Not Free
  22. The Poppy War
  23. Only Mostly Devastated
  24. Now That I’ve Found You

  25. Yeah, obviously this massive TBR is stressing me out. I need to finish We Are Not Free, Iron Heart, and White Fox for sure because two of those are for book tours and I am part of the Faring Society. For some reason, I can’t focus these days, but at least I have my September TBR already set. A lot of books on this TBR are re-reads and I’m at least halfway through at least a third of these books.

    In August, I read 20 books! It would have been a lot more, but I read some really good ones that put me into a reading slump, such as:
    These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong is still in my mind. (Humble-ish brag: I got an e-ARC from Netgalley even before it was available because I e-mailed the publisher. It was my first time, and I got one of the best YA books of 2020.)
    The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang changed my life and also she’s amazing! I heard Kuang speak at her TPW recap and now she is the #1 author I want to see in person.
    Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles made me feel so seen!! I finally have a fantasy character who I can cosplay as. I loved all of the descriptions and characters, and I hope Angeles will take the worldbuilding farther in book 2 because the map was an amazing surprise.

    September Goals

    1. Finish my TBR from other months: do not start any other books. See, I felt so stressed this morning because I have a lot of books I need to finish.
    2. Post at least 2-3 times/week on the blog. School starts in one week and one day, so I will definitely not be commenting and posting as much. Some of my posts will be short updates/mini reviews/lists of what I am reading.
    3. Relax and feel calm about taking time for myself. This school year will be challenging, but I am going to be off social media a lot more since I need to focus and get my work done.

    August evaluation

    I’d say this month was pretty good! My dual enrollment class is going very well and I am going to be a teacher’s assistant (TA) for one of my favorite teachers from last year. I got my first package from a publisher for Where Dreams Descend because of Shealea’s Asian Bloggers Directory!!! I also got a finished copy of We Are Not Free for the book tour by Colored Pages Tours, which is so cool (it comes out tomorrow).

    Mentally, it could’ve been better. I deleted Twitter, so that really helped me. I only want to focus on my bookstagram and blog, but mostly my bookstagram because it really is my first joy. I joined the book community to share pretty pictures of books, and now some people say they’ve read books because of me, which is so kind.

    How was your August? What were your favorite books?

Solace in Reading 2.0: Addressing the Blog

Hello everyone! Happy Friday! I once again decided to restart my blog for the second and final time. “But Isabella! You had a lot of posts! Did you just delete all of them? How are you going to address what happened with HOV?”

Yes, I deleted all but four. I even deleted my drafted posts. The four I kept are all related to The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. I will be publishing those over time since my Rin Analysis post got me the second highest amount of views ever. (Rin’s power knows no bounds.) It was easy for me because I didn’t care about these posts. Of course, I want to promote books I love. However, my book blogging experience was tainted when I did not proof-read my post for HOV, where I stated incorrectly that the protagonist of a book was Taiwanese American. She is Thai American. I’m not going to say “oh, I am a teenager, so I didn’t know” because I even wrote in my notes for the post that Winnie is Thai American. From now on, I will be re-reading my posts multiple times before publishing.

I am remaking myself while still acknowledging when I messed up. I also didn’t really think about whether I trusted HOV Tours or not because it was the first time I worked with them. After my mistake, I saw that other bloggers/online book people were negatively impacted by HOV (ex. not getting ARCs on time and a lot of other issues). From now on, I will only be working with tour companies that I 100% trust and also know the leaders of these companies. For example, I’ve been following Shealea @shutupshealea for a little over a year. I have always had great experiences with Caffeine Book Tours. (Watch out for my posts for Iron Heart and Spell Caster!) Also, Shealea is super kind and does so much work for this community.

Also, Colored Pages Book Tours: I know and follow two of their team members, who I’ve always had great interactions with. Fanna @ Fannatality and Rameela @ Star Is All Booked Up are both amazing bloggers, bookstagrammers, and people. They are always kind and transparent. I am on their tour for We Are Not Free, so also look out for that post! Even though I just started following them this year, I still trust them 100% because their website is very clear about their privacy policy AND the representation included in books.

One person who I’d like to shoutout is CW @artfromafriend, who recently said in a Tweet that “from now on, i’m going to stop calling my book recommendations ‘diverse book recs’ and just call them ‘book recs’. you may correctly assume ALL my recs are for diverse books.” I agree! It’s so important to be specific, and also to “normalise recommending diverse books because they’re good books, not just because they are diverse.” ALL CREDIT TO CW!! I need to start doing this, and instead of saying “This book has x rep” first, I will mention that I liked the plot, characters, more specific info, etc. And then I will mention the representation at the end.

Switching to another fact: I am an adopted Asian American (Filipino American, specifically). Therefore, I sometimes feel like an imposter when reading books with Asian American mcs’ because my parents who adopted me are white. I am still learning about my Filipino heritage, and started in sixth grade because I wrote an essay about the Philippines during World War II. In freshmen year, I did a project about Filipino women during WWII, and in sophomore year, I did a project about Filipino immigration to the U.S. from the time of the U.S.’ unjust colonization to the 1970s. While I may not have the same experience as first generation Asian Americans, I can still teach myself about my culture. Also, do not ask me if I think I was “stolen.” Do not ask any adoptee that. Adoptees are not a monolith, for example, I was born and adopted here in the U.S., which is different from being adopted from another country. For personal reasons, do not ask me about my adoption “story.” Families are not a monolith. Thanks!

Ok. Let’s get to the point: I need to make some changes on my blog. Here are five changes in a short list that I will expand on in another post:

  1. Post 3-4 times a week (or at least twice). I have one Dual Enrollment class and 3 AP classes. I do not have time to post everyday.
  2. Write more reviews.
  3. Re-read my posts before publishing them!!!!!
  4. Follow more blogs that I actually like. I love the blogs I follow!
  5. Be myself. For a while, I tried being someone I was not: I am a teen! I have a lot of my life ahead of me, and spent a lot of time in school worrying about grades. No more,

Ask me a question? I want to do a post where you get to know more about me that will go up in late September!

Where Dreams Descend? More like Where the Best Book of 2020 Descends. Review for WDD by Janella Angeles.

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happy book birthday to the incredible @janella_angeles ! here i am as Kallia! Janella, she means so much to me. especially as a Filipino American girl who didn’t see people who looked like her in fantasy novels until Rin Chupeco’s Wicked As You Wish, which came out just this March! i hope i’ve done Kallia justice and to continue improving my cosplays and edits. i am about a third through WDD and know that it’s going to be a #1 book of 2020 for me! i love Kallia and her strength. (as well as Demarco ☺️) listen. somehow the best photo is of me mid blink. i have so much respect for cosplayers and once i did this, i have 200% more. you have to get dressed, find a good place, take the photo, take more, edit the photos, crop, edit more, then add to instagram, add a caption, and hope people like it. i tried adding a filter but swipe to see the original picture and tell me if you like it better!!! huge thank you to @shutupshealea for her Asian Bookish Creators Directory. without you, i never would’ve gotten connected with @wednesdaybooks and @lifeinfiction to receive this AMAZING book. the package came with some other amazing items that will def be in my other instagram photos of this book. all of you made my week. #wheredreamsdescend #wednesdaybooks #janellaangeles #book #Bookstagram #YABooks #kingdomofcards #kingdomofcardsbook1 #WDD #wednesdaydesign #kalliacosplay #Kallia #KalliaWDD #KalliaxDemarco #DemarcoxKallia

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Me as Kallia! I am a modern day version of her. Clothes are from Forever 21 2019 winter season, I forget where the boots are from, and you can’t see but I am wearing Fenty Beauty lip gloss (highly recommend).

Everyone, I have just read one of my #1 books of 2020 (I refuse to pick favorites because guess what? I’ve given up on choosing just ONE favorite because I don’t need to.). The other best books are: The Silvered Serpents, These Violent Delights, The Archer at Dawn, Incendiary, and A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. Side note: I could go on but then this would just be a best books of January to August 2020 list. I also haven’t read Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest yet and it’s just sitting at the bookstore WAITING FOR ME. So I need to wait before adding more books to my list of faves.

Listen: I am improving my review skills BUT I want to do something fun: an interview with and by myself. So: here is an interview with me, Isabella, from me, Isabella, about Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles: NO SPOILERS.

Me: Why did you want to read this? Naysayers might say it’s a knockoff Caraval.
Me: Who would say that? If so, you’re probably one of those who compares The Gilded Wolves to Six of Crows: WDD and Caraval are NOTHING ALIKE!!!! I’d say WDD is better because 1. It’s more interesting, and 2. Basically EVERYTHING.

Me: Ok but why? What made you continue reading?
Me: The cover, the plot description, the fact that this was in a book box, the fact that so many people I trust loved it! It starts off slow but builds to a crescendo that was so unexpected and incredibly well-done. In spite of the fact that I would rather have good worldbuilding and characters OR good worldbuilding and plot, this was an excellent combo of a plot and character driven story.

Me: So who was your favorite character?
Me:
Kallia. Absolutely. She is the protagonist of WDD, and is super ambitious. You know how there are those stereotypical “brooding bad boys” in YA? Or those girls like Aelin who want power but are just horrible people, so their thirst for power doesn’t read well? Kallia was a power-hungry, take no prisoners, brooding, secretive, angry, soft, and all around amazing heroine. She fights for herself in a world of sexism and in a world that is dominated by male magicians. However, Kallia also makes friends: I loved her friendship with Canary and with Aaros because she wasn’t using them. Kallia is a leader, but also knows that she doesn’t have to compete with the girls around her.

I’d also say that Aaros reminds me a bit of Kitay from The Poppy War. They have very different personalities, but both are there for their power-hungry friends no matter what, which I love! More friendships between girls and boys in YA are so needed.

And Canary! I would read a story with her POV for sure. I wish she played a bit of a bigger role instead of Jack, because the fact that she is in the Conquering Circus is so amazing and a lot cooler than Jack.

Demarco. Damn. It’s very rare for a love interest to captivate me since so many YA love interests are so alike (looking at Cardan, Rhysand, Rowan, Cal, Mal). Demarco was so sweet while also maintaining a hint of mystery around him (in a non-creepy way). It never felt like there was a power imbalance between him and Kallia.

Finally, Jack. Wow. This story’s villain wasn’t a person, more like sexism and girls being blamed for no reason. However, Jack was a super interesting character who I would also love to see more of. How did he get to Hellfire House?

Me: What did you think of the plot? Did the romance take over the story?
Me:
The plot was more character driven while also incorporating action at the right moments. Janella balanced her intense descriptions with action and snappy dialogue. However, Kallia’s thirst for power never felt overdone or out of place. After all, it’s Kallia who saw the world and said no thank you, while also maintaining a sharp and intriguing personality.

This book is like stepping into a fancy restaurant dressed up to eat fancy foods and to also have a bit of fun with a mysterious stranger. The descriptions of Kallia’s dresses, how Demarco sees her (wink wink), and the atmosphere all fit so well together. I just felt so empowered by how Kallia went after what she wanted while also being vulnerable at times.

The romance. Again, the fact that the LI asks for consent? One of the many reasons why I love Demarco. In fact, asking explicitly for consent? Hell yes.

Me: What do you want to see in the next book (no spoilers)?
Me:
Janella Angeles could go A LOT darker. I would say that this book is definitely not juvenile, but with that ending, Angeles has the skills to try to write more intenesly. I would also like to see more worldbuilding because again, Angeles has the skills. This book is a freaking debut and it really does not read like one. Angeles put so much into this book, and to see her take some risks to make the sequel straddle the line between YA and Adult fantasy would be amazing to see (however, the romance is so perfectly written. I wouldn’t change anything.). A darker sequel would just be so cool. I mean, come on. Kallia has powers and I want to see her fight someone with them.

Me: Songs you’d use to describe this book?
Me: Wow. Obviously anything Janella has said. For me personally? Fire on Fire, Surrender, The Man, Castle, Look What You Made Me Do, Movements by Pham, Bad B*tch, Hotter Than Hell, The Chain, Love to Hate It, Whatever It Takes, The Greatest, Nightmare, Monsters, Wicked Game, and You Should See Me In A Crown. All of these describe Kallia, and some describe Kallia and Demarco’s relationship.

Well, me, how do you feel?

I feel shocked. Kallia could rule my life. She is the embodiment of who I want to be: confident, stands up for herself, and doesn’t care what others think of her. Janella Angeles is a voice in YA who needs to be read. I look forward to Kingdom of Cards Book 2, and I hope anyone reading this will pick up Where Dreams Descend. If you like strong girls, intense magic, girls who hunger for power, girls who dominate, and a book that flips the roles of girls and boys in a romance, then this is the book for you. (Also, Kallia looks like me, so that’s cool! I guess I also added this to my Wikathon TBR because I read it in a little over a day.)

Bookstagram: What am I changing?

Hello everyone! If you’ve been following my bookstagram for a while, you know that I’ve had it since December 2018. I used to be @lives_in_ya_books, but decided to change my handle to @solaceinreading at the beginning of August. I don’t just read YA books anymore (because of The Poppy War), and I am getting older. It is time for a change.

What are my plans for Bookstagram?

My bookstagram is a product of work, time, and effort. I’ve worked it on since December 2018, coming up on two years this December!! I haven’t been as dedicated to something since rowing, which I participated in from September 2016 to March 2020, so about 3.5 years. I know I want to be a bookstagrammer longer because I can make friends (and already have so many amazing friends who I know are there for me), and love taking pretty pictures! I’ve developed real photography and writing skills. Here are five changes/updates I want to make:

  1. Not following a schedule. “Wait, don’t you have to follow a schedule to be sucessful?” Definitely not. I literally did not have a schedule from January 2020 to nearly the end of June. I still retained about 1,050 followers in spite of my sporadic posting, and that’s what I need to do when (takes deep breath) dual enrollment starts tomorrow. I like taking pictures when I want to take pictures. (Right now, I have no inspiration since I am waiting for Where Dreams Descend, lol.)
  2. Follow as many people as I want to. For some reason, I thought that I had to have more followers than people I was following. HOWEVER, I follow less people because now I can see that I have seen all the posts! I don’t see a million posts per day!
  3. Use stories less. I don’t want everyone to swipe through 15+ story posts per day because I really don’t need to be on Instagram as much as I am. I am going to make it so that I don’t feel like I need to post on my stories if I am not posting on my feed. I want to change my mindset from “this is a place to gain followers and free books” to “this is a place to meet friends and make life long connections.” (Lili @utopia.state.of.mind, ty for this!)
  4. Keep my Close Friends list limited. I like to rant there, and it is limited to people I’ve known for over a year.
  5. Maintain a theme. I like having organization online and offline. (If you ever meet me, you can get on my good side by talking about how much we both love pens and notebooks.)

What is your bookstagram (if you have one)? Would you be interested in advice posts about bookstagramming?