Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson | Blog Tour

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ARC Provided by Simon & Schuster
Publication: October 5, 2021

➽ An Enchantment of Ravens
➽ Sorcery of Thorns

 

“If I could read humans’ minds, I wouldn’t have ended up trapped inside a little girl’s finger bone.”

I have enjoyed everything that Margaret Rogerson has written thus far, but I do think Vespertine may possibly be my favorite of them all.

Artemisia is a Grey Sister, working alongside nuns at the convent, preparing dead bodies for their final rest. Before the convent, and when she was only a child, she was forced to use the most extreme measures to purge a revenant who was possessing her, and now has disabled hands. But because of her past, she likes to keep to herself and live a quiet life with very few friends. But when an army of possessed soldiers come to destroy the only place that has ever made her feel like home, she is forced to use a saint’s relic that allows a very powerful revenant to share a body with her once again, while also protecting the monastery. But Artemisia quickly realizes these soldiers are not the only ones being possessed by so many different spirits of different powers, and the only hope for this world could be her and the spirit that is currently inhabiting her own body.

Word quickly sweeps across all the lands of a Vespertine who has the power to cleanse and save them all, but there are many who will stop at nothing to ensure she does not come into her full power with her revenant who remembers the past these people are trying to hide very well. But Artemisia must learn if she can even trust this spirit, especially because she has his relic which she must protect because if it is destroyed, the revenant will be destroyed with it.

 

“On this day, we honor her by denouncing the Raven King, bringer of the Sorrow, ruin of the Age of Kings. May his face remain forgotten. May history scorn his name.”

I know the premise of possession can be a little questionable, but Artemisia and her revenant (and their banter) was truly my favorite part of their book. And their friendship, and their trust in one another, while also learning boundaries, was really enjoyable to read. Also, her having that relic and power over the revenant was very important for me, as a reader! And I think the author does a really beautiful job also always remembering and discussing Artemisia’s trauma from her past, while allowing her room to grow but to also decided for herself how she wants to heal and grow, regardless of how linearly the healing is throughout the story and throughout Artemisia’s life.

Artemisia is also very inspired from Joan of Arc, who was also believed to be a saint under divine guidance from a higher power to save her people, even though she was “just” a young and poor girl. Since this is the first book of this duology, I do hope Artemisia does not meet the same end, but the parallels were very subtle and loud at the same time, but always very beautiful.

 

“I wondered if I should pray. But the stars were gone, the Lady’s gaze obscured. I had no sign save the hundreds of voices chanting my name outside.”

I also really loved this whole entire world and magic system. The different castes and hierarchy of spirits and discovering all their different levels and powers was so absolutely fascinating. Even how the cause of death would impact what kind of spirit manifested! I also loved every stop Artemisia and her revenant would make on this journey, and all the new things about these spirits we, as the reader, would learn alongside Artemisia. If you’ve read the author’s previous works, you know that they just really excel at world building and crafting the most beautiful settings, and Vespertine was no different. And I was happily exploring cities and inns, and cathedrals and crypts, with Artemisia.

Overall, I just really loved this and it was a true joy to pick up each time. The side characters were also very amazing, and each friendship that Artemisia chose to start really was beautiful. And I loved seeing Artemisia realize that she is deserving of safety and happiness, regardless of what happened to her in the past. And also seeing her realize that the family you choose will always be more important than the family you were born into. I really recommend this one for so many reasons, but I also think most of you know I just have a really big soft spot for magical fighting nuns always, too. Happy reading!

5


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Maëlys & Evie! ❤

Content and Trigger Warnings: abandonment, child neglect + abuse in past, possession (the mc uses self-harm in the past + threats of suicide to get spirits to leave her body – both very brief mentions), brief mention of animal abuse, mention of animal deaths, blood depictions, vomiting, drugging, anxiety depictions, talk of plagues, loss of a loved one in the past, mention of spiders, talk of suicide, death, and please note this is a book about sharing a body with an ancient spirit, so i can see that making some people uncomfortable, please use caution!


When not writing I can be found drawing, reading, gaming, making pudding, or creeping through the woods in search of toads and mushrooms. I enjoy coMargaret Rogerson is the author of theNew York TimesbestsellersAn Enchantment of RavensandSorcery of Thorns. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, beside a garden full of hummingbirds and roses. Visit her at MargaretRogerson.com.


Kingdom of the Cursed (Kingdom of the Wicked #2) by Kerri Maniscalco

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ARC provided by the publisher

➽ 1.) Kingdom of the Wicked ★★★

“And there is nothing more dangerous than love, is there? People fight for it. They die for it. They commit acts of war and treason and all manner of sin in its name.”

Whew, what a rollercoaster again! Kingdom of the Cursed picks up immediately after the events of Kingdom of the Wicked, and with Emilia trying to pick up the falling pieces of her life. Her main priority is to still avenge her sister and discover who was killing witches in her Italian town, but this time she is looking for clues in the land of actual heck, where she is promised to one of the seven demon rulers, and not the one she already has feelings for. Yet, Wrath escorts her back to his personal heck kingdom, and Emilia soon realizes there is much more she has to be in search of if she ever really wants to live a normal life again.

I feel like talking about my thoughts on this series is just so difficult. Let me start out by saying that this was the most easily consumable book I’ve read all year, and there wasn’t a moment I wasn’t thinking about it while not reading. The atmosphere, setting, and entire vibe is perfect, especially for the autumn time! The main character and her quests for vengeance and for her own discovery really is phenomenal. The writing is lush and descriptive and feels like its own sort of magical teleportation. And the story itself feels enthralling at every turn, and plot points are constantly being set up to leave the reader anticipating that next page, while also begging for the next book.

“When the demon responsible for Vittoria’s death finally felt the flames of my fury, I’d hopefully have burned this House of Sin to ash.”

But there was just a horrible chapter that really dampened my entire reading experience and it really breaks my heart because this is one of those situations where I truly believe if publishing houses would just hire beta readers who review critically, this could have been such an easy chapter to fix. I actually believe that if chapter 17 did not happen, this could have been a five star book for me and you could have seen me holding it up as a new profile picture in 2022. But that scene just 1.) made me wanna throw up and 2.) made it so hard to root for the romance after, even though the author constantly tries to make an excuse for the behavior, but it honestly just makes it feel even worse. Also, I wouldn’t make excuses for anything that happened in that chapter, but once I finished the book I realized that the “training session” was so unnecessary, at least in this book, and again it just ruined my reading enjoyment.

For the sake of the rest of this review, I’m just going to ignore this chapter. But in my review of Kingdom of the Wicked, I said how this series is the first series in so many years to remind me of those fantasy series I read when I was younger and truly could not put the books down, and I would look forward to their next installments being released months and months in advance, while trying to devour to story when it hit my kindle at midnight!

And this story was extra reminiscent of those feelings because this second book takes a very large jump in the adult or new adult fantasy genre. This book is very steamy, and Emilia and Wrath have very sexy thoughts on the brain 24/7. This author also makes full use of this series being about demons inspired off the seven deadly sins, and this story uses very public displays to showcase this. (I do scream at Emilia not knowing about oral sex though, especially when she claims to have read such naughty romance books in her past though!)

Overall, again, this is just a hard one for me to review and rate. I will for sure read book three and see how it all wraps up, because I am actually unhingedly invested in everything, especially with how this second book closes! I really loved all the new developments with Emilia’s powers and with all the witches and the history of witches, actually. I loved a lot of the side characters we were introduced to too, and maybe one demon prince will actually pull a Rhysand, which would be insane but I’d really welcome it at this point. I also want to see all of the different lands and castles of hell, too, because so far every exploration has felt magical and so exciting! I do apologize for this review being all over the place; middle books are always a bit more difficult for me to review, especially ones where I am trying to pretend an entire chapter didn’t happen. I’m going to be very curious what everyone thinks of this book once it releases!

“Not all stories end happily, Emilia”

Trigger + Content Warnings: a lot of blood descriptions + depictions, grief, gore, violence, mention of loss of a loved one, brief mention of the topic of rape, drugging, a lot of sexual themes and scenes, and a full warning that chapter 17 has very questionable physical consent involving mind control powers using magical compulsion – truly full dubcon vibes but sex does not ultimately happen, but it is just a very uncomfortable scene that actually made me nauseous, so please use caution while reading.

3
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Buddy read with Maëlys & Lea! ❤

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao | Blog Tour

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ARC Provided by the Author & Caffeine Book Tours 
Publication: September 21, 2021 by Penguin Teen

“This world does not deserve my respect. It is not worthy of my kindness or compassion.”

I’ll be completely honest, when I read the author note at the start of this book I knew I was about to fall in love with a new story. Xiran Jay Zhao lets the reader know that you are about to get a love letter to Chinese culture, Chinese history, and the only female Chinese emperor! The author does not shy away from the ugly things, but always shines such a powerful light on all the beauty, and truly crafts such an inspiring tale of a girl who will rise up the ranks and become more powerful than anyone ever let her believe or dream, including her family, her country, and even herself.

This story is Asian, queer, and all about abolishing the patriarchy and gender roles that every society tries to make people fit with their judgement, expectations, and laws. “Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale in a polyamorous reimagining of China’s only female emperor” is the perfect tagline for this book! And this story is truly so powerful, so beautiful, and so high on my recommendations lists for you all!

Okay, on to the giant transforming robots and what the story is actually about! In this world, Huaxia is trying to protect the Great Wall against Hunduns and their alien mechs (who have already developed and established their own society and way of life on the other side of the wall And Huazia has modified versions of these robots that they call Chrysalises, and constant waves of battle are happening and being broadcasted for the people to watch and be entertained by. The pilots of these mechs are able to transform them into East Asian mythical creatures, and sometimes they are able to gain more special abilities under very specific circumstances when two pilots are able to bond together, weave their qi together, fight stronger together, and have a big adventure in battles together. But there are so few bonded pilots in this world.

But in Huaxia, young boys are hailed as heroes for piloting these machines, but it always takes two pilots, no matter how much society wishes to forget about the evils of the other seat. Young girls are given up by their families to serve the army and have their qi tested to see if they would be able to help pilot alongside a powerful boy. The thing is, most times the boy completely invades, using a psychic link, and uses up every ounce of lifeforce the girl has, killing her during battle.

“I wouldn’t live and suffer for anyone else, but I would die to avenge my sister.”

➽ Wu Zetian – our main character, who is ready to enlist herself in to the army, to the same pilot who her big sister was enlisted to, but only her ashes were given back. On a mission of pure vengeance, and being sick of being held back because of the gender she was assigned at birth, she finally wants to reclaim some semblance of power for her sister, even if she has to pay for it with her life. But when she gets into her first mech as a concubine-pilot, the world is not ready for the power she truly has to offer, even if it could change the war for once and for all. She also uses a cane and sometimes a wheelchair because of the seriousness and pain of her footbinding.

➽ Li Shimin – the Iron Demon, pilot of the Vermillion Bird, and the scariest and most powerful pilots of them all. Not a single girl has made it out of his mech alive during battle. Was on actual death row for murder because his qi power was tested and noticed and now he is forced to endure another type of prison. He also is bisexual and half Rongdi. He is also struggling with alcoholism and immense trauma and grief. (unrelated, but I would give my life for him this very second.)

➽ Gao Yizhi – son of a powerful man who controls many of the social and public relations standards of Huaxia. Yizhi would sneak out and meet Zetian once a month in the forest of her village and help teach her things and just be a good friend to her. When I tell you I would die for this character. I also feel like the author really gave him some 11/10 one-liners. He is also bisexual and really does such a beautiful job teaching Zetian about polyamory. (yes, these three end up in a relationship together, even though it is not the central plot, it is perfect and I hope we are able to see more stories in the future normalize polyamorous relationships in the seamless way this one did!)

“love isn’t some scarce resource to battle over. Love can be infinite, as much as your heart can open.”

But we follow (and fall head over heels in love with) this trio, while they attempt to dismantle the patriarchy and different types of oppression these people have been facing since even before Zhou fell. I know I just gave you a lot of information, but I promise you the author does so much of a better job immersing you in this story and world. Their writing is actually the best writing I’ve read in the past few years and the amount of highlights my eARC has is actually sickening.

I also just deeply loved the themes of feminism and how sometimes things can feel exceptionally heavy when you have been raised your entire life to honor your elders and trust that they know best, when we still have so many systems (and corrupt governments) to dismantle in our world today. I’m typing this review in 2021 where you are still unable to get a divorce in the Philippines that isn’t an annulment, and how living in the US means constantly seeing powerful men make laws that take away women’s rights to their own bodies.

“I close my eyes, picturing myself taking command of a Chrysalis, towering over buildings and smashing the earth with my colossal limbs or luminous qi blasts. I could crush anyone who’s ever tried to crush me. I could free all the girls who’d love to run away.”

Overall this was just the Asian, queer, polyamorous, feminist sci-fi story of my dreams. The layers were so haunting and deep, the themes were so loud and important, the writing was pure perfection and genius levels of lyrical, and the characters were completely and wholeheartedly unforgettable. And I truly believe that book two, and the conclusion to this duology, will be even better come 2022.

Also, this author is just really cool and creates really amazing content on youtube and their blog. I truly think they are just so inspirational, and I believe one day they will have a few stories written about them and the hope and happiness they are giving to so many, including so many Asian kids all around the world who are feeling so seen and feeling even more pride in their cultures.

Also (lastly for real), this book being published on September 21st, the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, and celebrating another story about a woman, a rabbit, and their sacrifices brings actual tears to my eyes. Very galaxy brain of this author and pub house and just a really beautiful final touch.

Iron Window will for sure make my best books of 2021 list, and I am so truly proud and honored to have been on the blog tour for such a powerful story.

Content + Trigger Warnings: murder, death, torture, violence, gore, human sacrifices, thoughts of suicide, a lot of abuse (including domestic abuse and parental abuse), talk of sexual assault, extreme alcohol addiction, lots of consumption of alcohol, lots of depictions of blood, lots of depictions of trauma, depictions of depression, anxiety depictions and panic attacks, many mentions of needles, forced body modifications including footbinding and stolen organs, humiliation, misogyny and sexism, talk of disease, themes of colonization, and war themes

5


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

(i’m the worst) buddy read(er) with May ❤

Xiran Jay Zhao is a first-gen immigrant from small-town China who was raised by the Internet​. A recent graduate of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, they wrote science fiction and fantasy while they probably should have been studying more about biochemical pathways. You can find them on Twitter for memes, Instagram for cosplays and fancy outfits, and YouTube for long videos about Chinese history and culture. Iron Widow is their first novel.

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A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee


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“Once upon a time I found it so easy to forget the stories about Godwin House and the five Dalloway witches who lived here three hundred years ago, their blood in our dirt, their bones banging from our trees.”

I feel like all of Goodreads was screaming “sapphic dark academia with murder and witches” at me to read this, which I very happily obliged, but even with keywords as magnificent as those I still found so many other things to fall in love with about this story.

This is such a beautifully crafted and hauntingly atmospheric book staring a lesbian main character who is coming back to finally finish her senior year at a very spooky boarding school. She is also living with an immense amount of grief, anxiousness, and psychotic depression.

Dalloway School is a very isolated school, and the house that Felicity is going to be sharing with four other girls is even more isolated from the rest of the campus. And even though there are beliefs of witchcraft all over the school, the Godwin House is where five young suspected witches lived before they were murdered 300 years ago.

The writing in this is so wildly fresh, and pleasing, and dare I even say the most aesthetic. The word choices and how each sentence is structured feels so very deliberate and it truly made the whole reading experience even better and even more haunting. Truly some of the best words and passages I’ve read in such a long while and it was truly a treat every single time I picked up this book, while I also seamlessly fell back into the story.

There is also a major theme and plot of literature and how these five girls are working on different theses. Felicity’s thesis is about misogyny and the portrayal of women in horror literature. Where a new girl named Ellis is working on an entire book, trying to research these murders to help be inspired for her next award winning novel. And because their projects kind of go together (and because they are living in a really creepy house that five women lived before they were murdered) they decide to work together, and Ellis very much wants to prove to Felicity that magic is not real once and for all.

I really loved the constant bringing up of mental health in the past and how women who were not understood (even without mental health struggles) were so easily deemed witches and made them pay for it with their lives. I also just loved how we get to see an unreliable narrator talk about lots of unreliable narrators! Again, the writing in this book is just so well structured and it is so impressive all the building layers.

But this book also centers around some very heavy and important things, like the importance of taking your prescribed medications, and how scary isolation can be and how it can also make you much more susceptible to be abused without necessarily realizing it easily. And also, how much darker things can turn when those two things are happening to you simultaneously!

I just had a really good time reading this, I think it’s not only beautiful but it’s so very important, and the ending will truly leave you screaming.

“…old and rotten tales about missing girls and desolate mountain cliffs, how Felicity Marrow claimed it was an accident, but no one else was there to say for sure.”


Trigger and Content Warnings:
murder, death, gore, violence, grief, loss of a loved one, a lot of blood depiction, rituals, a lot of alcohol consumption (under aged), a lot of smoking, substance abuse, talk of racism, anxiety, anxiety attack, vomiting, self harm (to get blood), talk of suicidal thoughts, actual suicidal thoughts, talk of being institutionalized in past, mention of illness with an elderly family member, lots of mentions of not taking prescribed antidepressants, gaslighting, manipulation, abuse, a situation with sever parental neglect and abandonment, and animal deaths that are pretty dark. in general, this book is very graphic, and have very visceral depictions of struggling with mental health, please use caution!

4
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February 2021 TBR

Hello friends! I am still redoing my space as you are reading this (my desk tops come in this weekend and hopefully everything will be perfect after that), so I’m not sure I will read this first week of the month! But I still wanted to tell you six things that I’m planning on reading, and I’m very excited to review on the blog! 💘


The First Sister (The First Sister Trilogy #1) by Linden A. Lewis

This was an amazing gift from my amazing friend Genny! This story looks like is is queer scifi with lots of diversity, and I think I’m buddy reading this with Maëlys, Romie, Lilly, Lili, & Star! (And that… makes my heart soar, truly!) And extra perfect timing for F/F February!

➽ The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) by Nghi Vo 

Maëlys gifted this novella (and the second, because she is too kind and I love her so much) to me for Christmas, and Tor recently sent me The Chosen and the Beautiful, and I really can’t wait to fall in love with all this queer Asian lit!

The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1) by Namina Forna
February 9th 2021 by Delacorte

Fairyloot included ARCs of this in one of their past boxes in 2020 (with really beautiful teal sprayed edges, to boot!) and I am so excited for this African fantasy debut! Also, all my early reviewing friends have adored this one! (Oh, and you might see me unbox a finished copy of this on instagram this month too, muahah!)

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi
March 2nd 2021 by Simon Schuster Books

Mary HK Choi has my whole entire heart, and her books are always and forever my favorites! I can’t wait to read and love this third novel from her, and I’m sure I will be gushing about this all month and for forever after that too!

Raybearer (Raybearer #1) by Jordan Ifueko

This was the number one book I was so sad I didn’t get to in 2020. I feel like every friend of mine who I have similar reading tastes to adored this one and put it on their best books of the year list. I can’t wait to read it and hopefully be able to scream <with luv> about it with them asap!

A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses #4) by Sarah J. Maas
February 16th 2021 by Bloomsbury Publishing

Listen, I laugh at myself because you all know how much the last few SJM books have ultimately let me down. But this brand new spin-off start is starring one of my fave characters so I have a lil hope, and I will jump in the trash can extra and read this at midnight when it drops, like I do all SJMs because of 1.) hype and 2.) not wanting to be spoiled by lil shits!


February is also Black History Month – and here are some cool readathons you should check out:

The Black Lit Challenge 
Blackathon 
Black Author Readathon

And just in general, I hope you are being conscious of picking up more books by Black authors, not just in February, but always! 💕



Tell me a book you are extra excited to pick up this month! I hope transitioning into this wild new year has been treating you and your family kind. I am sending you all my whole heart always, and I hope you are having happy reading!   💗

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Favorite Non-Book Things | 2020

I always try to make one end of the year wrap up post about things that brought me a lot of new joy that year! This year, I did seem to find a lot of love and comfort in already established happiness, but I still thought it would be fun to make a list of just a few things that helped make 2020 a little brighter (even if #10 is truly the most cursed timeline and I have no idea so I got here but…)! 💗

➽ 01.) Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Cream

Dr. Jart+ - Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Cream 1.69 oz/ 50 mL

2020 was truly a year of me trying to find a good night time moisturizer after Drunk Elephant Lala Retro reformulated. (I still love CLINIQUE Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator and/or Tatcha The Water Cream for in the mornings!) But basically, I truly would buy a new moisturizer every two months in hopes of finding a new love, and then I finally found (my number two non-bookish 2020 happiness on this list, which lead to me finding…) Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Cream and fell so in love! But also, honorable mention to PURITO DEEP SEA PURE WATER CREAM, which my family gifted to me for Christmas, and I very much am loving it and it has a much better price tag! And I imagine the PURITO Centella Green Level Recovery Cream is similar to the Dr. Jart one, and might be better for the colder seasons!

➽ 02.) Beauty Within

BeautyWithin | sundays

Truly, my new favorite youtube channel of 2020 is easily, hands down, Beauty Within! Felicia & Rowena are two Asian women with two very different skin types, and they use, review, and give the best recommendations for all price ranges! They have helped me so much with my skincare journey and they are truly just the sweetest in general, on top of being the most helpful and inclusive that I’ve ever found! Rowena has also very much helped me in 2020 to stay organized, to be more productive, and even help sparked my love for Notion!

➽ 03.) Notion

How I'm Using Notion to Track my Life in 2020

This summer, May posted some of their Notion pages on twitter and I was instantly intrigued! I love any and all kinds of different mediums for organization, and I quickly fell completely down the rabbit hole with the rest of the book community! I won’t lie, I have fell off a little bit in December keeping up with things, but I blame that on setting up a lot of my 2021 physical organization methods! Hopefully lots of new 2021 pages soon!

➽ 04.) My Cat

The light of my days, always. She deserves her own spot on this list for her cuddles alone!

➽ 05.) Writing Letters

There are many, many reasons for this, but writing letters has been something that I have really adored doing all 2020. To my family, to my friends, to different trades in the kpop community, I just really love writing letters! And I forever want to let me loved ones know I love them in every medium. Also, save the USPS!

➽ 06.) Going Outside

I will never take just being outside for granted again, ever. I feel like I am still very bad at reminding myself to go outside, which doesn’t make sense because I always feel 100 times better on the days that I do. But a lot of times, when I am finally free to go outside, it is too dark. But that special time, right before it gets dark, and I can just breath in all the crisp air right now, while looking at the mountains, and hearing the river (with no boats on it, please god, I am begging), it feels rather magical and extra healing, and a lot of those afternoons have been my favorite of all 2020.

➽ 07.) World of Warcraft

It is so wild, because 2020 is the year I should have the most free time (from not being able to commute alone), but it is the year I played less videogames and I read less books than any other. It is very strange to think about, but I think most people were just kind of focused on surviving and learning how to live in this very different world, and valid. But I still plated a lot of vanilla wow, and my guild is still going hard in Naxx. I also play a little retail wow with the new expansion, Shadowlands, but I still don’t love it as much as classic wow.

➽ 08.) Jocie B ASMR

Jocie B ASMR - YouTube

Would this be a meltotheany favorites list without incorporating at least one ASMR artist? So, I started watching Jocie in 2019, but I fell extra hard in love with her in 2020, and her ASMR really got me through some shit™! She has such a range of ASMR styles, and is never afraid to try new things. I also think she is very inclusive with the items she uses, and I think she is just amazing. Also, she does do fairy ASMR, and it really works for her and I love it so much!

➽ 09.) jtotheimin

I couldn’t really think of how to include this, because I am still a little scared to talk about my other channel to the book community, but the last half of 2020 had a lot of happiness brought into my life because of my BTS (and a few other kpop group) youtube channel, jtotheimin. Not to get too real, but it does feels strange to be in a different online space away from books, but I feel proud that I grew something without a Goodreads following and without feeling like I will never live up to the faith people have in me. (Or… just feeling like I’m letting people down by not being able to control my anxiety better and film a new booktube video.) A lot of bookish spaces in 2020 felt really unsafe to me, and I didn’t know what to do, or if I was just going to give up everything, but learning to have confidence in myself again, and getting to talk about being seen in a different way, was really healing to me, and I am so very thankful for this channel.

➽ 10.) Survivor

Survivor28logo.jpg

Listen, I really don’t know how I truly got here, but I have currently watched almost ten seasons of this damn show and I can only blame only leaving my house once in almost a year. Basically, two seasons dropped on Netflix and one of those seasons was set in the Philippines, in the north province of Luzon (Cagayan), and I was like “why not?” but it truly awoken something in me. Well, after I unexpected cried my eyes out because Cliff Robinson was on that first season I watched, and it truly was the heartbreak I didn’t see coming. But the TL;DR is that I am not emotionally, unstable, invested in Survivor, and I am currently using my parents Hulu membership to continue on with using my precious reading time to watch this show and get upset when they vote the wrong people out.

The way I am truly giggling after writing that last one. 2020 truly just threw all the curveballs, aye? But I hope you enjoyed this post, and maybe something on this list will interest you and make your 2021 a little more fun. Tell me something non-bookish that made you happy last year! And I’m sending you all so much love and light always. Happy reading (and watching questionable shows)! 💗

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Favorite Asian Books of 2020

Hello friends! I hope you enjoyed My 2020 Reading Year in Review, but I just wanted to give a little bit more love and celebration to a few books that mean the whole world to me! Growing up, I couldn’t even dream that I would be able to pick from so many books from Asian authors, featuring Asian main characters, with Asian families, and just celebrating Asian lives. I truly feel more and more blessed every year, because I feel like every year this list gets harder and harder to make because we are getting more and more ownvoices stories that are going to make it easier and easier for kids to see themselves completely whole, not just bits and pieces. (Obviously publishing has SO MUCH work to do, but I can’t help but smile when looking at this list and how much overflowing love I have for these stories!) But here are my five favorite books written by Asian authors in 2020. 💕

➽ 5.) Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe 

“Sometimes all you need is a pinch of magic…”

Japanese influences + Kiki’s Delivery Service inspirations + the power of friendship and having people who will unconditionally love and support you = perfection. This was truly the perfect middle-grade for me, and one that will be in my heart forever. 

➽ 4.) The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire, #1) by Andrea Stewart

“A made thing could grow and change beyond its original purposes. I would show the Emperor: I’d grown beyond mine.”

Every pov, every storyline, every plot twist, every companion, perfection. I am still so blown away by the debut novel, the magic system, and how the last page left me feeling. I am absolutely begging for book two and more of this Asian inspired kingdom! (and more of my favorite crustaceans love story sapphics!)

➽ 3.) The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #1) by K.S. Villoso

“They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.”

This so beautifully (and sometimes heartbreakingly) incorporated Filipino culture, I was completely immersed and utterly captivated on every page. I truly inhale read this in 48 hours and I could not be bothered to tear myself away for anything besides work. This book truly reminded me of that magical feeling that reading can give you, especially when you feel safe and seen and so in love. 

➽ 2.) The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar 

“What I want more than anything else in the world is to feel like being myself isn’t something that should be hidden and a secret.”

This book was everything and had so many perfect layers, from seeing this main character unapologetically talking about their diaspora experiences, from the real truth about fetishization, from cultural appropriation and how it is never okay, and how westerners treat Asians, but south Asians in particular. But also, this book had the perfect sapphic romance interlaced throughout, where real learning (and unlearning) happened so beautifully. 

➽ 1.) The Burning God (The Poppy War, #3) by R.F. Kuang 

“Rin had spent so long hating how she felt when she burned, hating her fire and her god. Not anymore.”

The Poppy War trilogy is truly once in a lifetime and this conclusion was honestly a work of art all itself. This series is a military epic fantasy that is ownvoices and inspired from the authors family history and the stories she learned from them. Heavy themes of war, colonization, racism, colorism, genocide, cycles of abuse, and so many different types of trauma are never shied away from. I’ve read and reviewed many books these last six years of my life, and I’m not sure a series has impacted me more than this one. Every sentence has meaning, every chapter is so well planned, every event conveys layers and layers of thoughts and feelings. History is truly created by the victors mostly with the most blood on their hands, and the stories that get told are mostly through a white and colonized lens. R.F. Kuang has done so much with these three books and they mean so much to so many Asian readers. 

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