August Wrap-Up: A Long but Good Month

Books

This month, I read 25-28 books. August is the first month where I have decided not to finish books – there were three that weren’t for me, but that others may like.

My favorite books were The Final Strife, The City of Dusk, and Siren Queen. I also re-read a few books, including the These Violent Delights duology which was just as amazing as the first time I read it.

College

I started university on August 29! I am so surprised because I like all of my professors, which is very lucky. My favorite class so far is Global Studies 101. I was worried that I wouldn’t like the readings, but I love them. I feel affirmed in my decision to have already declared my major. I don’t have a least favorite class; however, I do not like my ENVS 101 class because it is at 8:30 AM.

I need to give credit to students at my uni for following my #Bookstagram and getting me to 1.4k followers!! I have been hovering around 1400 for so long.

Life

Life is pretty good. I am excited for my birthday in September, and I am glad I get to celebrate with my family.

Yesterday, I went to WorldCon for the first time. I cannot believe that I just found out about it a week ago! I met N.E. Davenport, Xiran Jay Zhao, Gene Ha, and Apara Verma. Later this week, I will hopefully have a post up about my first WorldCon experience (it was amazing and I really hope to go to the Hugo Awards the next time!).

I also took a lot of photos for my ##Bookstagram account before I left for university, and I hope I have enough to last me the semester.

The An Ember in the Ashes Quartet by Sabaa Tahir.

September

My only goal for September is to get through my first month of college: go to every class, not get covid, read for fun, and make time for my own hobbies. I also have a few books I need to read and review from NetGalley: I am reading Study Break right now and I LOVE IT!! Being a first year college student, SB came at the perfect time.

How was your August?

Summer 2022 Wrap Up: Books, Internship, and College

I bought a copy of The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang this month and am so happy to finally have the complete trilogy!!

Yes, I know summer isn’t over yet; however, I move in to college this month. . .omg. Therefore, I am posting this wrap-up now because I don’t think I’ll have a lot of time for personal reading during the last couple of months of this year. Here is my Summer 2022 wrap-up!

Books

This summer I read 63 books (including the months of June, July, and August as of August 19). Of those books, 16 were re-reads and 27 were published this year. Overall, I have read 135 books this year (including re-reads). My top six favorite books were:

  1. The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah: Chelsea Abdullah’s world building is INCREDIBLE. This multi POV fantasy swept me away to a magical and deadly world.
  2. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi: One of the 16 re-reads! This remains one of my favorite series of all time. I love the cast of characters and I hope Roshani Chokshi returns to this world someday.
  3. Siren Queen and The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo: these are both amazing historical fiction novels with a touch of magic.
  4. The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi: another new fantasy novel, also with multiple POVs. I could not put this book down, although I’ll have to re-read it because there is so much detail.
  5. We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal: very long, dense, and intense – I loved it! I cannot wait for A Tempest of Tea to expand this world.

Other books I enjoyed: The City of Dusk by Tara Sim, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin, and Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li.

Life and College

I finished my first internship with a book publishing company! It was from November until the end of July. I had a decent experience, although for my next internship I hope to be in person because virtual internships can be a bit lonely.

There has been a three week period between the end of my internship and when I’ll move into college. I am super excited and there’s a book club at my uni that I already know I want to join. Packing wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be – I am only bringing three of my personal books because I have 13 for my classes. Also, I only have one 8:30 A.M. class (yay!) and all of my classes end before 4:00 P.M.

Looking Forward

I don’t set numerical reading goals anymore; however, there are some books I’m really excited for:

  1. Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn: this was one of my favorite books of 2020. I love the Fairyloot editions of this trilogy!
  2. Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong: I am super excited for my preorder to come!
  3. Babel by R.F. Kuang: I have also preordered this one!! I have heard so many great things about it.
  4. Strike the Zither by Joan He: I have preordered this one as well : )

How was your June-August? What books are you looking forward to?

Midyear Book Tag

Looking back on this year so far, I realize I haven’t loved a ton of books. There are a few standouts, but I find myself feeling less connected to YA books and more into Adult Fantasy/Contemporary and nonfiction books. Here is my 2022 Midyear Book Tag!

Best Books I’ve read so far

  • The Ikessar Falcon and The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso: I would love for more people to read the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy because this ending. . . .ahhh!!! Talyien is one of my favorite heroines of all time.
  • The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri: I received an e-ARC of this from Netgalley last year, and DNF’ed it, but this year, I finally read a finished copy! This feminist sapphic fantasy is about two women and their lives during a time of revolution and sexism.
  • The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport: N.E. Davenport is my new favorite fantasy author. Ikenna is amazing and I cannot wait to see her journey continue in The Blood Gift.
  • The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah: What a great start to a new fantasy series!! I received an e-ARC from Netgalley but was able to check out a copy from the library soon after it came out.
  • Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li: I LOVE ART MYSTERIES!!!! Especially ones that address art stolen by countries that they don’t belong to. Every main character in this book is Chinese American and is a part of the diaspora.

Best Sequel(S) I’ve read so far

  • The Ikessar Falcon and The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso

New Release(S) I Haven’t Read yet, but want to

  • Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel: I’ve seen positive reviews of this one and I hope to get to it soon!
  • The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi: I’ve been following Saara El-Arifi for a few weeks now, and this is the start of a new fantasy trilogy.

biggest disappointment

A Show For Two by Tashie Bhuiyan. I couldn’t get into it. I think I’m gravitating away from YA Contemporary.

Biggest Surprise

A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair. I don’t read a lot of romantic adult fantasy, but I think to compare this to some other older fantasy books is unfair. I liked Keera a lot and her growth throughout the novel. *I received a free ARC from the publisher, which did not influence my opinion of the book.

Favorite author (debut or new to you)

N.E. Davenport!!! She is amazing and I am so ready for The Blood Gift!! I read The Blood Trials in a day. Her writing is so cinematic.

The Most beautiful book you’ve bought or received this year

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. I love the character illustrations throughout and the library themed endpapers.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

  • The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo: I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet. It will happen soon!!
  • Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang: I will read anything R.F. Kuang writes.

Favorite book to movie/tv series adaptation you’ve seen this year

None. . .I am really enjoying Only Murders in the Building, though!

Thoughts? Any adult fantasy book recs for me?

September – December 2021: Thoughts, Aspirations

I love fall and winter. My birthday is in September, my family has birthdays, there’s Halloween, fall weather, Christmas. It’s basically a time of food and and fun in my house. . .and also a time of great book releases!! However, I am a senior, so I have college applications. Here’s what my blog and bookstagram will (tentatively) look like this fall.

Blog

There’s a few ARCs I need to review:

  • Our Violent Ends
  • Fools in Love
  • The Bronzed Beasts
  • A Clash of Steel – for Colored Pages Book Tours – look out for my post September 10th!
  • The Red Palace
  • Within These Wicked Walls

Tbh, I DNF-ed OVE, FIL, and WTWW just because I was in a reading slump in August, but I really need to get those reviews done. I highly recommend all of the books btw!

I also want to make more lists of books with certain tropes/genres, maybe an article on why I don’t use online book tracker apps, my third year bookstagram anniversary post. I have a lot of ideas and hopefully can use my free time to work on something other than applying to college.

Bookstagram

Ah, my main platform! Time to pull out the fairy lights and wayyyyyy more props. Another fun activity that calms me during the school year.

The main post I want to have up in October is a cosplay of Kallia from When Night Breaks – I cosplayed a modern version of her in 2020, and it’s one of my favorite posts ever.

And of course, 2022 has many great book releases in store (All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir comes to mind), so I will definitely be promoting those.

Additionally, I think J. Elle may have another street team for Wings of Ebony’s sequel, so I want to sign up for that. The cover for Ashes of Gold is out!!

Shopping

Recently, I’ve gotten into online shopping. I am looking for clothes that I don’t have in colors I don’t have. As a shorter person, I fit in clothes from middle school, but then grow out of others, and I recently got some money, so that’s really fun.

I also am limiting myself to buying five books this fall, however, it depends on if I get anything for my birthday (September 25). I am grateful to have parents who support my book lovingness.

Wishlist

I am really hoping to buy more contemporary, fun books. I own a lot of fantasy series/first books in fantasy series, and I am realizing that I cannot own every single one because I am already having to double stack my books, which is not great. I actually got rid of a lot of books, or not got rid of because they are still where I live, but it feels good because I have friends who love books, so they are going to good homes. I also want to start a book collecting project at my school, but as a senior, I think I’m going to wait for myself to get into a routine before jumping into another project.

As for things other than books, I am looking to add a few new pieces to my fall and winter wardrobes that can work for both seasons AND for every occasion. There’s so many fancy pieces of clothes I have, so I’d like to add some casual clothes as well.

School

I am a high school senior. My first app is due November 1, and then I have an interview really soon.

I am taking two APs, Bio and Stats, and both go together, so I feel good about my AP classes. Stats is involved in Bio, and I love math, so I am excited to use math in bio!! I am also in Graphic Arts where we’ll get to use paper AND iPads. Art used to be something I wanted to do in college, and I want to take it as an elective because while I love talking, debating, and writing, art lets me use my thoughts in a different way!

Life

Honestly, I have such great friends both offline and online, so I am grateful to have support! August wasn’t a good month for me except for Santa Monica and LA which I am glad to say were bright spots. I am doing better now and am so grateful for the support I received in August, not only from my family, but also from my friends and school.

Do I have any goals? One of my CA’s is due Nov 1, I want to be done with my apps by December 17, and I want to find some clothes I do not have – I’m getting into experimenting with my outfits, which is a lot of fun.

Anything you want to do in Sep-Dec? Book recs for me?

July 2021 Wrap Up

Hey everyone!! This month, I read 24 new books. 6 less than last month and the same amount I read in May, which is a pretty good accomplishment because I had my academic summer program for four weeks in July. (I hope I did well because it was my last summer.) So far, I’ve read 107 books.Here’s what I read in July and my goals for August, as well as some of my favorite IG posts.

A black and white plaid blazer and skirt set along with a red shirt and an ARC of How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao (only 17 days away!!) and a sword necklace.

Favorite Quote

CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

“Beneath the beat of the sun, all he saw was the starkness of her skin and the sharp cut of her lips. But last night, beneath the glow of the moon, that skin had coaxed and those lips had beckoned. They still do.” – Nasir’s thoughts, pgs 294 to 295

Books I Read (bold = author is new to me, italisized = re-read)

  1. Everthing that Burns by Gita Trelease – started in June
  2. Blackout by Angie Thomas, Dhonielle Clayton, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon, Nic Stone, and Tiffany D. Jackson – FAVORITE
  3. Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield – FAVORITE
  4. Witchshadow by Susan Dennard – Least favorite
  5. The Archer at Dawn by Swati Teerdhala – FAVORITE
  6. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal – FAVORITE
  7. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – FAVORITE
  8. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – FAVORITE
  9. Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto – FAVORITE
  10. A Chorus Rises by ┬áBethany C. Morrow – FAVORITE
  11. Every Body Shines edited by Cassandra Newbould
  12. What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka – Least favorite
  13. The Chariot at Dusk by Swati Teerdhala – FAVORITE
  14. Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury – FAVORITE
  15. The Marvelous by Claire Kann
  16. A Universe of Wishes edited by Dhonielle Clayton
  17. Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson – Least favorite
  18. Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney – FAVORITE
  19. Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta – an almost 100% new FAVORITE but some things could be improved
  20. Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson – FAVORITE
  21. Darling by K. Ancrum
  22. Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June
  23. Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma – FAVORITE
  24. XOXO by Axie Oh – FAVORITE
  25. Off the Record by Camryn Garrett – FAVORITE
  26. The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison

Overall, 14/24 books I read were new favorites!! That’s about 60%. I didn’t like Witchshadow because the plot was all over the place and some parts seemed unecessary/there were a lot of POVs. I know this series is very popular, but it just didn’t land for me. And What’s Not to Love seemed so interesting, but I really feel like I want to read more rom-coms with people of color. Xoxo and Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance made up for What’s Not to Love.

I also did a buddy read with @sagarific and @yourlocalbookreader!! It was super fun and you all should definitely follow both of them. We read Iron Widow and it was super engaging and the ending. Oh my gosh.

Finally, if you read five books from this list (cries in I can’t choose but I will for now), read Blood Like Magic, Dial A For Aunties, and The Tiger at Midnight trilogy, and Off the Record, and Rise to the Sun.

August Goals

I hope to read seven books and have my TBR! I also am hoping to finish my e-ARCs of Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong and When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles!! I also got an e-ARC of The Red Palace by June Hur. Furthermore, I hope to post more reels this month.

As for non bookish/slightly bookish goals. . .

  1. I want to finish my commonapp essay. I have a second draft. If anyone else is applying, please message me and I’d love to talk about college. Also, narrow my college list/do more research.
  2. Rewatch some shows.
  3. Relax!!! My academic program was super fun but I also like having unstructured time.
  4. Hangout with friends. Hanging out in person is different than seeing someone through a screen.
  5. Start planning for Model United Nations. It’s my last year and I really hope in person conferences will happen.
  6. Get 10 people to read How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao – it’s one of my favorites of this year!!

My Favorite Posts of July

What did you do in July?

What do I want this blog to be?

One particular post I am super proud of – the first book I ever got sent to me because of publisher because of Shealea @shutupshealea’s Asian Bloggers Directory. Go follow her!!!

Recently, I’ve realized that there is a cycle that I go through on bookstagram that I think started in March 2020: first, I’ll feel really good about what I’m posting. I’ll feel so inspired. Then, the second part of the cycle is me looking at other people’s posts and comparing myself to them. Finally, I’ll start to worry that what I post is not good enough, and that I’m not being aware enough. This causes me to either 1. want to delete my account, or 2. delete Instagram off my phone. Then, the cycle starts again. How do I break the cycle? Here’s how I think I can:

First of all, the past two days, I’ve deleted Instagram off my phone when I start to do homework until my school day ends. This is really helpful because I’m becoming less attached to my phone in the morning. My eyes feel better and there’s more separation between my life outside my phone.

Second of all, I am someone who tends to overanalyze a lot and therefore, this causes me to think people don’t like me. I know this is a very convoluted way of reasoning. For example, if someone responds to a text with a period in their sentence, I’ve worried that they don’t want to talk to me.

Finally, I realized recently that I just wasn’t liking what I was posting, including what I was posting here on the blog. I didn’t like how I was just trying to maintain a certain aesthetic instead of contributing to educating others, and I repeated some of the same questions that I tried to use to talk to my followers. I think some of these feelings might be from me growing up in a competitive schooling environment where I was always second best from sixth to ninth grade. I get jealous of those who are so amazing at writing reviews, but I must realize that it takes time. I also need to accept that it’s ok to feel sad if I do put a lot of work into something and I get no response. I need to let go of relationships that are one-sided. Furthermore, I actually stopped talking about problematic books a while ago, but now, I feel like I should because white authors are still getting away with a lot. I don’t remember the author’s name, but she was harrassing someone who gave her book 4.5 stars on Goodreads.

GOALS

  1. Use my platform effectively.
  2. Create work that I’m proud of.
  3. I’ve seen this phrase many times and I did not come up with it: post with intention.
  4. Recognize that I don’t need to post everyday because my main “job” right now is to finish the school year and to continue researching colleges.
  5. Honestly, this goes for ALL parts of my life: recognize that stress is ok.

Overall, I think I do have to accept that analogy that “there will always be a car ahead of of me on the highway.” I feel like, as a high schooler, I’ve gotten caught up in the mindset that I need to have everything in my life figured out in addition to maintaining a certain image, but that’s not what I want this blog and bookstagram to be about. I wouldn’t want to monetize this hobby right now because my main concern is school, although it would be very cool to get paid to promote the books I love. I still get jealous of those bloggers who’ve been around for the past 5-6 years who have really pretty aesthetics and the perfect layout and sound so smart, while I’m over here with incoherant messes of reviews, which makes me think I’m not working hard enough to be taken seriously or for people to want to be friends with me, but I must recognize that comparing myself to others won’t help me make progress in where I want to be.

Thank you for reading! How are you?

Thoughts I Had While Reading We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal – SPOILERS

We Hunt the Flame and We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal.

Hello everyone!! I am currently reading We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal. I thought it would be fun to do a reaction post of my thoughts and emotions while reading this book. I am taking this idea from Epic Reads: An Ember in the Ashes live read is one example. It was such an honor to be a part of the Zumra, and I’m so happy this book is in the world. Warning: there will be spoilers for the entire book. Again, there will be spoilers. Also, I will be starting from about 12% into this book.

  1. Absoultely devastated that Ummi is dead and Zafira and Lana’s village is destroyed.
  2. Why would the village be attacked?
  3. I wonder how Zafira feels/what her interactions with Nasir will be.
  4. “There was always more to lose.” Nooooo, I really hope there’s a happy ending for the Zumra.
  5. I wonder how Lana will react to the Jawarat.
  6. “I can be lots of fun, Zafira.”
  7. “You seem to have no trouble being the end of me.”
  8. Hafsah Faizal is really good at balancing actions and descriptions. I can’t wait to see more of the Great Library.
  9. “Tears aren’t a measure of heart. We grieve in different ways.”
  10. I like that Zafira and Nasir are having a heart to heart conversation. It’s nice to see them let down their guard now that they’ve journeyed together.
  11. Love seeing Kifah’s interaction with the team.
  12. I’m interested in seeing more of the House of Dreams.
  13. I think Zafira’s relationship with the book is the most intriguing aspect so far.
  14. A vision.
  15. What is happening?!
  16. Maybe the hilya will play a role in Hafsah Faizal’s next series?
  17. This world building is so immersive and immense. I think WFTS will be even better than WHTF. The characters seem to be moving around a lot, which I like. – Chapter 14
  18. Love that Nasir is opening up to friends.
  19. “What was next?” Yeah, what IS NEXT, NASIR?
  20. Kifah and Nasir are not just allies, they are friends.
  21. Also love seeing Zafira and Lana’s relationship.
  22. Nasir is a poet.
  23. So the Lion is Altair’s father.
  24. I really can’t tell what Altair’s fate will be.
  25. Pausing at chapter 17 – 2.24.21. I really like this book so far! I feel like WHTF set up a lot of everything that’s happening now. I like the fact that we’re seeing the characters interact more with the world outside of each other.
  26. How did the Lion get there?
  27. They are definitely pining.
  28. “It was quite something, to be the cause of another’s joy. To be the pride of someone’s eye, if only for a fleeting moment.”
  29. So since Altair and Nasir are related, I wonder when we’ll see Nasir’s powers?
  30. I love Kifah and Zafira’s friendship.
  31. I appreciate that Deem is still mentioned.
  32. Oh my gosh.
  33. I would 100% buy a graphic novel of WHTF and WFTS.
  34. Now I’m really interested in seeing if/how Nasir uses his power.
  35. The world has expanded so much in terms of where Zafira is traveling.
  36. “Already wearing the crown, I see.”
  37. “I’m not either,” Zafira said, looking away with a barely restrained groan.
  38. Already fighting?
  39. Another daama!
  40. Oh no. Zafira shouldn’t have to give up her Baba’s dagger.
  41. Oh my gosh.
  42. Oh my gosh.
  43. So Altair was unifying the kingdom – what will happen at the end to his relationship w/ Nasir?
  44. Zafira.
  45. “He was alone without her, a soul-deep desolation. Drifting in a world where no one really saw him.”
  46. Faizal is one of my all time favorite writers.
  47. “She didn’t think it was possible to stand footsteps away and miss him even more.” I hope Zafira and Nasir talk soon.
  48. Dreamwalk. Interesting.
  49. They’ve found the Lion’s hideout!
  50. An arrow!!!! Noooo!!!
  51. So much is happening.
  52. “. . .her fingers brushed his, warmth tangling for the briefest of moments.”
  53. The tension between Zafira and Nasir.
  54. I hope Altair gets out of there soon.
  55. “She laughed, and his heart leaped at the sound.”
  56. I’m so ready to see this world come to life in the TV adaptation.
  57. I think a book about Altair before WHTF would be interesting.
  58. Ok finally Altair and Nasir are back together.
  59. “and unleashed her arrow, knowing it was her last.” WHAT.
  60. “His compass. His queen. His life.” My heart, oh my gosh.
  61. I do not accept this.
  62. OMG Yasmine and Zafira are reunited!!!!
  63. Love the fact sisters play such an intergral role in this book. Zafira and Lana’s relationship is so great to see.
  64. Zafira and Nasir are reunited!!!!
  65. Chapter 70.
  66. Zafira’s character development and journey is so amazing.
  67. Oh my gosh.
  68. “He bit back a smile at her flustered attempt to act unflustered.”
  69. “Let me be your everything.”
  70. “Sweet snow, this was going to be some journey.”
  71. So much has happened and I don’t want this book to end.
  72. The Silver Witch is back.
  73. “. . .I do love a challenge.”
  74. Hirsi!!!
  75. The Great Library is on fire!!
  76. PART THREE: THE END OF THE BEGINNING.
  77. OH MY GOSH!!!
  78. This Nasir and Altair team-up is one of my favorite parts so far.
  79. Nasir gives his crown to Altair!!!
  80. “Why be one of nine when I can be the one?” Kifah is one of my favorite characters of all time!!!
  81. WHAT.
  82. It’d be interesting to see a story about Qismah.
  83. ZAFIRA IS BACK!!!
  84. “I hear Sarasin is in need of a calipha.”
  85. “And to think, once upon a time, Nasir Ghameq, Caliph of Sarasin and Crown Prince of Arawiya, had wished he could feel nothing at all.”



Oh my gosh. We Free the Stars is my second five star read of 2021. I am so happy with how this duology ended and I now want to go back and re-read it again. I’ll probably be writing a review soon, but here are my top three favorite moments in the meantime: Zafira and Kifah traveling together, Zafira using the Jawarat, and when Zafira comes back at the end.

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?

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?