review: the shadowglass, the conclusion to one of my favorite fantasy trilogies

the shadow glassTitle: The Shadowglass
Series: The Bone Witch #3
Author: Rin Chupeco
Published in 2019 by Sourcebooks Fire

I won’t provide a synopsis because this is the third book in the trilogy and would contain spoilers for the previous instalments. If you want to read the premise of The Shadowglass, you can click on the title above or the cover, which will take you to the Goodreads page.

My review on the first book, The Bone Witch.

 

 

my thoughts on june 19

The Shadow Glass was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and one of the only books I pre-ordered. I’ve been in love with this trilogy ever since receiving an e-ARC of the first book in 2016. I was both excited and scared to read this conclusion, because it would wrap up one of my favorite stories. Would it be a good ending? I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed by this book at all.

Obviously, I can’t say much (or anything at all really) about the plot or storyline of the book because it would spoil the events of the previous two novels. I’ll keep it very general and abstract for you.

I absolutely love the twists and turns in this story. Throughout this entire trilogy, I found myself doubting every character and interaction. I didn’t know who to trust, much like Tea doesn’t know who she can rely on. I was taken by surprise multiple times throughout this book, which doesn’t happen all that often anymore. It was a wild ride, and I even shed a few tears at some point.

That is the nature of tyranny, young Tea. Maintaining power is their sole intention. Why worry about retaliation and revolution when they have always intended to wield the sword?

What makes this trilogy stand out to me are the characters. They’re all so well-developed, given their own time, and have their strengths and flaws.

Tea is a badass woman, but she isn’t infallible either.

“We all admired her, Knox.” Lord Besserly raised his glass. “Let’s raise our glasses to the Dark asha. As strong and mighty as we are, able warriors one and all – may nothing we do piss her off.”

She’s way too impulsive and emotional at times, which leads to rash decision making. The great part is that she’s very aware of her personality flaws and they don’t overtake the story – if that makes sense. Love, family, and friendship are incredibly important to her, which shows in the way she treats her friends. She’d do absolutely anything for them. While she has a strong sense of duty, she won’t let it overshadow her humanity, or her as a person.

“I am selfish. I am not the compassionate woman she is. Sometimes I feel she is far too kind for her own good. I will serve the kingdoms, but not at the cost of my health.”

Another character I want to bundle up in a blanket and protect forever is Likh. In the entire trilogy, we’ve seen how fluid gender is through Likh’s story. While the rest of the world considers Likh a boy, she has always been drawn to the asha (female witches) over the Deathseekers (males capable of drawing runes and magic). Likh loves the intricate hua of the asha, the way they perform and carry themselves. In The Shadowglass, we see Likh realize which pronouns actually fit her and how she explains it to the others. Seeing this transition, this realization and acceptance, was wonderful.

Aside from gender, there’s also diversity in terms of sexuality. There’s an f/f relationship I absolutely adore, but I feel is more prominent in the second book rather than the third. There’s a male character who is primarily attracted to other men as well.

If you haven’t read this trilogy yet, please give it a try. I promise it’s worth your time. I’m so happy to say that this Asian-inspired fantasy series written by a Filipino author belongs on my favorites shelf. 

10 of my unpopular bookish opinions

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. For today, the topic is ‘unpopular bookish opinions’. I really hope I don’t have to say this, but I’ll do so anyway just in case. These opinions are in no way meant to offend anyone. There you have it, disclaimer done. Let’s get into it!

I love breaking the spine of paperbacks

I said it! I love breaking the spine of paperbacks, and seeing the lines it leaves on the spine. I really like the way it looks on my shelves. It makes me feel like the book has been read and loved, like it has a history of its own. I don’t always do it as some paperbacks don’t require bending it somewhat to be able to read it properly, but it does happen quite often. Don’t worry, I don’t really lend books from others, so I’m not breaking other people’s book spines! Just my own.

I prefer paperbacks

I’m sure this is not that much of an unpopular opinion, since many people love them, but I do think there’s this love for hardcovers in the bookish community. Which is fine, obviously! Who am I to say which format you should love more? I personally prefer to read and collect paperbacks, however. I find them easier to hold and read, like the way they look read and loved (due to the spine), and am grateful they are usually cheaper.

The one thing I hate about paperbacks, however, is that there are 234234 different sizes and the chance of my series not matching is high. Looking at you, Nevermoor.

I love used books

I know that a lot of people prefer to buy their books new because they look pristine, haven’t been handled yet, or are a more direct way of supporting the author. I happen to love used books, however, and will almost always seek out a used bookstore before a regular one while traveling. Like I said with the broken spines, it makes me feel like a book has a history already, one that’s now being transferred to me.

sometimes the movie really is better

OOPS, I SAID IT. The book isn’t always better, guys. I do happen to enjoy the book more 90% of the time because there’s usually more time and space to explore the characters and world, but that’s definitely not true for every movie or TV adaptation ever.

Annihilation is a fantastic movie adaptation, for example. More on this later!

I don’t own/want to own a lot of bookish merch

Don’t get me wrong, I love bookish merch. I love the way it looks, and I admire the creators who have put so much of their hard work into it. However, I don’t own all that much. A few pouches, some socks, and a tote. That’s pretty much all the merch I’ve bought myself. Why? I honestly prefer my home to have a more minimalistic style (even though I definitely own too much to truly call myself a minimalist). Having too much stuff makes my house feel cluttered, which stresses me out.

The only bookish items I would buy are things I would use on a daily basis: (travel) mugs, pouches, a welcome mat, or a tote bag.

Obviously, no offence meant to those who do! This is just a personal preference when it comes to keeping my home uncluttered.

5 books I have unpopular opinions on

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
It’s clear how unpopular my opinion on this book is by the amount of annoying comments I get on my review. If I get one, just one, more comment that starts with “you completely misunderstood…” I’m going to scream. I absolutely despised this book and made a review/rant video to talk about the reasons why. Out of all the negative reviews I have ever made, THIS is the one I get the most hate for.

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
What the fuck was this book. Seriously. SOMEONE EXPLAIN  how this one has an average rating of 4.28 on Goodreads. I hated every single sentence in this book with a fiery passion, and wish I could erase it from my mind immediately. Since that’s not possible, I decided to grace you all with a review full of quotes so you can experience the horror that is this reading experience too. This is a definitely a case of ‘the movie was better’.

The Cursed Child by John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
Perhaps a bit less unpopular than the previous two, but still. As a Harry Potter fan, I am deeply disappointed in this one. Yes, I knew this was a play before reading it. Yes, I knew it wasn’t written by Rowling herself. Those are not the reasons I hated it. I disliked it because it broke the few rules of magic established in the original series, because the characters didn’t even seem like themselves, and because of the blatant queerbaiting.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My hate for this book is no secret. I simply don’t understand why everyone loves this, or why it’s a classic in the first place. Supposed symbolism aside, let’s all agree on the fact that this book is incredibly boring. Nothing happens. At all.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This was such a popular mystery novel/thriller when it first came out, and it even won the Goodreads Choice Award in that category. I thought it was incredibly boring, and really struggled to finish it.

Do you agree with my unpopular opinions? Tell me some of yours in the comments!

my thoughts on put your head on my shoulder (thoughts on TV)

put your head on my shoulderPut Your Head On My Shoulder (2019)
Country: China
Genre: drama, romance
Rating: ★★★★.₅ – loved it

As Si Tu Mo’s graduation is nearing, she is confused about her future plans. She tries out all sorts of things all the time and is unable to make her own decisions. Her ordinary days are suddenly shaken up when the genius Physics student Gu Wei Yi appears in her life. The two accidentally end up living together and chaos begins.

Watch it here!

 

my thoughts on june 19

I stumbled upon Put Your Head On My Shoulder in my recommended videos on YouTube, and decided it was worth a shot. Weeks later, I find myself thanking YouTube because I’ve found another drama I adored. I don’t often watch shows where I have to wait for the next episode to come out, but that was the case with this one. Each Friday and Saturday at 2PM (my time zone), two episodes would be released. So you had to wait a little less than a week but you did get 4 episodes a week.

I haven’t seen many people talk about this drama, which is why I wanted to make sure to do a ‘thoughts on TV’ post on it.

What I loved about the show

⭐️ a main character I admire. I truly think Si Tu Mo is a heroine I could get behind. She’s trying hard to get a job in a field she wants to work in, even though her educational background doesn’t fit with it. She works hard when she finally gets a chance at an internship. She has a crush on her best friend, but doesn’t let him get away with taking advantage of her feelings or taking her for granted. She loves her friends, and supports them always. I absolutely loved her.

⭐️ soft boy! You all know how much I love a soft boy. Gu Wei Yi is such a kind person, and is the perfect love interest (in my opinion). He tries his best to do things she likes, to learn more about her interests, and to communicate in a way she understands. It’s all the little things that she doesn’t necessarily pick up on, but he tries so hard to make her happy.

⭐️ two people who are very different, falling in love. When I talk about being very different, I mean it in the way they process the world and communicate. Si Tu Mo is a very creative and outgoing person, who values relationships and communication. Gu Wei Yi is a scientist, and more quiet. He isn’t really used to expressing his thoughts and feelings, and struggles with communicating them to others.

⭐️ the best friend (who doesn’t deserve her) does not end up with Si Tu Mo. That’s not a spoiler, since you can tell from the poster and the description of the drama that the relationship will focus on Si Tu Mo and Gu Wei Yi. However, at the start of the show Si Tu Mo is very hung up on her best friend, Fu Pei. He takes her for granted though, and does not treat her well at all. I’m glad that this shows there’s no excuse for it, and you will lose the girl if this is how you behave. Sometimes, the best friend really doesn’t deserve the girl.

⭐️ don’t let go of your dreams because of a relationship. This is such an important message to me, so I’m glad this drama included it. I don’t want to spoil anything for you all, but they have to make a decision for their careers and lives that will make their relationship harder. Yet it’s an important opportunity, and I love the way they dealt with it.

⭐️ no tons of unnecessary relationship drama. I really hate having to watch the main characters get together only to have them separated an episode later. That’s not the case here.

There really wasn’t anything about this drama that I didn’t like. I’d highly recommend it, if my description sounds intriguing to you. It’s easy to watch as well, since they are all subtitled and available on YouTube! I will say, this is a very cute and bubbly show. If that’s not something you like, you won’t be able to watch this. I feel like I’ve gotten quite used to these types of shows because I’ve watched quite a few Asian dramas now, but I know not everyone will like it.

may in the life, a personal wrap up

As always, I write a bookish monthly wrap up and a personal one, in which I talk about the movies and shows I watched, the music I listened to, and the things I did in the previous month.

what i watched 19

I didn’t watch that much this month, which makes me wonder what I actually did in my free time in May. I didn’t read that much, I didn’t watch that much… What on Earth did I actually do?

Either way, I watched a few more episodes of Game of Thrones season 8. I’ve only watched three episodes of the last season, but thanks to the wonderful people of the internet who tweet spoilers without any contextual words in it, I already know how it ends. I muted SO MANY words, but obviously that doesn’t help when people live tweet pictures without words.

I also finished watching Put Your Head On My Shoulder, a Chinese drama I’ve been obsessed with. I think it’s one of those shows that’s quietly beautiful, since there isn’t that much drama in this romance. The main love interest is a soft boy, and you know that’s what I’m about.

what i did 19

I feel like I didn’t do many noteworthy things in May, to be honest. Seriously, what did I actually do last month? I had my nails done twice, and went to a shoe sale. I went to a restaurant with my family to celebrate some birthdays. I helped my mom with a garage sale she did. I went and voted in the regional, national, and European elections. Let’s not talk about that one though, before I become a fiery pit of rage again. I also went to a Korean restaurant/take-out place in Ghent with one of my friends, which was phenomenal.

Since I needed something to return to in order to keep my sanity intact, I started doing some yoga again for the first time in months. I’m really going to try and keep up with it this time because it does me so much good.

what i listened to 19

Time for the music part!

WINNER – Ah Yeah
I’ve been playing this song on repeat ever since it came out. It’s such a fun summer song, even if it’s about a breakup.

ONEWE – Reminisce about all
A completely different vibe than the previous song, but no less beautiful. I absolutely love bands, and I can’t wait to see what the future will bring for them.

A.C.E – Under Cover
THIS SONG! AND THESE OUTFITS. Don’t talk to me about the yellow bee/wasp outfit, because I’m deceased. How does he manage to look badass and good in that getup? I can’t fathom.

ONEUS – Twilight
I absolutely loved ONEUS’ debut song Valkyrie so I listened to their comeback as soon as it was released. There’s something about the vibe of their songs I really dig. I’d also like to know where they filmed the MV because the scenes are stunning. I’d guess it was somewhere in (Southern) Europe, but I’m not sure.

Lee Hi – No One (ft. iKON’s B.I)
This might be the catchiest and most fun song on the list this month. I love her voice, and the drop is fantastic. The MV is slightly weird though, with the whole cat thing… Also: B.I!

How was your month? Did you watch anything fun? Listen to any good music? Do some fun things?

recommendations from my favorite genre (some more fantasy for you all)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, we’re talking about books from our favorite genre. For me, that’s fantasy. I’ll try to give some recommendations I think a lot of you haven’t read yet. Here are my picks for this week.

A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke
This fantasy novel is perfect for a cosy winter day. It’s a polar fantasy, in which the main character goes on a quest to the Goddess to save her village after the red lights in the sky appear. After all, red is a warning.

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco
I want more people to read this incredible Asian-inspired fantasy trilogy. It’s one of my favorite series, and I own them all in hardcover. If you know me, you realize that’s a big deal. I usually buy paperback only. It has witches, necromancy, betrayal, royalty, and battling kingdoms.

The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova
I have seen quite a lot of people talking about Elise Kova’s Air Awakens series, but not necessarily about her Loom Saga. This is a new adult fantasy series in which the Five Guilds were conquered by the Dragon King. Ari is doing everything she can, as an engineer turned thief, to thwart the Dragon usurpers. It’s brilliant! By making this list, I’m also reminding myself to finally read the third book…

Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn & Grim #1) by Juliet Marillier
I’ve mentioned Juliet Marillier quite often, because she’s such an underrated author when it comes to fantasy. Dreamer’s Pool follows Blackthorn and Grim, who live on the fringe of a mysterious forest. Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance in exchange for freedom, and now she has to spend 7 years assisting those who need her help.

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier
I’ve been in love with this series since I was a teenager, and I’m still urging people to read it to this day. The first book is the story of 7 siblings, 1 sister and 6 brothers, who have been cursed by their stepmother. The 6 brothers have turned into swans, and the only way Sorcha can save them is by weaving them shirts from weeds with painful thorns and not uttering a sound until she can put the clothes around their necks.

White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black
Out of all of Holly Black’s novels, I feel like I barely see anyone talk about White Cat. I absolutely loved this urban fantasy trilogy, so I’m boosting it here. The main character, Cassel, comes from a worker family (think maffia) and has conned his way into a fancy school. I’d suggest listening to the audiobooks of these, as they’re narrated by Jesse Eisenberg.

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik
Once again, a popular author in the bookish community, but an frequently overlooked series. Temeraire follows Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, during the Napoleonic Wars. Sounds epic, doesn’t it?

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
For those of you who are craving a graphic novel, I’d recommend Nimona. Nimona is a young shapeshifter who wants to become the sidekick of a villain. Together, they battle the good side! But is it really the “good” side?

Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers #1) by Rachel Aaron
Another urban fantasy for you all, and another dragon book! Heartstrikers focuses on Julius, the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan. He’s always looked down upon by the others because he’s a nice dragon. Dragons aren’t supposed to be nice. It has magic, dragons, ghosts, ancient feuds, evil, scheming and backstabbing, and everything you could ever want.

Sunbolt (Sunbolt Chronicles #1) by Intisar Khanani
A very underrated fantasy series to close off my list. Hitomi gets caught working for the Shadow League, an underground movement, by Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame and she’ll need every ounce of courage and magical powers she can summon to escape. Be prepared and buy the second book immediately, though, because the first one is very short and you’ll be left wanting more.

Have you read any of these books? Which fantasy novels would you recommend me?

may wrap up – everything I read last month

A mini reading slump hit me last month, and I found myself unable to commit to a book. I finished a lot less books than I did in the previous 4 months, but that’s okay! Reading is a hobby, after all, and shouldn’t come with pressure. Let’s talk about what I managed to read in May, shall we?

Death Note Black Edition Volume 2 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★★
The first volume of these black editions left me pleasantly surprised and wanting to continue the series, which is exactly what I did at the start of May. This might be my favorite Death Note volume yet. It was absolutely brilliant, and I ended up devouring it.

Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor #3) by Mark Lawrence – ★★★★.₅
You knew Holy Sister would end up in the wrap up, didn’t you? I fell in love with this series last year, and was both excited and sad to read the final book in the trilogy. I have to admit that it was a lot shorter than I was expecting. While I still adored it, I prefer the first two books in the trilogy over the conclusion. It seemed a little bit rushed at times, and I just wanted a tad more from the romance. It’s still a 4,5-star read though. If you haven’t picked up the trilogy yet, please do so.

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 3 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★
Aside from Death Note, I’ve also been endlessly fascinated by Fullmetal Alchemist ever since I started the manga this year. I think the first volume is still my favorite, but I really like every volume I’ve read so far!

Death Note Black Edition Volume 3 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★
After the brilliance of the second volume, I had to continue with the manga as soon as possible. Death Note is so compelling! I find myself glued to the pages whenever possible. Volume 3 wasn’t as great as volume 2, but I don’t think it’s possible to be as great or better than the second one.

Death Note Black Edition Volume 4 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★
Once again, after finishing volume 3 I immediately picked up the next one. I was absolutely devastated at something that happened in this one, let me tell you. I might never be the same again.

Death Note Black Edition Volume 5 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★
After the devastation of volume 4, I was hooked. I immediately bought the remaining two volumes and devoured them. I don’t love this volume as much as the early ones, but it’s really incredible to see the characters’ journeys. Light has come from a arrogant high school boy into an adult with the largest God complex I have ever seen. It’s fascinating!

 

Death Note Black Edition Volume 6 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★.₅
This finale had me stressed to the max. I didn’t even know how I wanted it to end. Good vs.  evil – who should win? I’m very satisfied with the conclusion to the series, even though I’m a little sad the story is over. I’m definitely watching the anime adaptation soon.

The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart – DNF
There you have it, my first DNF of the year. The Sacrifice Box is a YA horror novel of which I received an ARC at YALC in 2017. I know, I got a copy almost two years ago and still hadn’t read it. After 200 pages, I still couldn’t care less about the novel. I wasn’t attached to any of the characters, wasn’t interested in what the evil actually was, or how they would survive what was happening to them. I simply didn’t care, so I decided to put it down.


Apparently, May was the month of manga for me. Or maybe it was just the month of Death Note? I fell into a mini reading slump at the start of the month, and manga is a great way to try and crawl out of the slump. If you have any manga recommendations for me, I’d love to hear about it! There are so many on my to-buy list, but I can always use more!

Have you read any of these books? What did you read in May?

review: winter garden

winter gardenTitle: Winter Garden
Author: Kristin Hannah
Published in 2010
Genre: contemporary/historical fiction
Rating: ★★★★★ – a new favorite

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard: the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night.

On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time – and all the way to the end. 

my thoughts on june 19

I have put off writing this review for months now, because I’m not sure how to explain my love for Winter Garden. However, I’ve realized that not talking about it at all is not an option either. I’ll try to sort out my thoughts today, and hope that the resulting review is at least somewhat coherent.

When the novel kicks off, Meredith and Nina’s father is dying and the family has to come to terms with losing the linchpin of their household. Their mother has always been standoffish and cold, which is why the sisters have a much deeper connection with their father. Aside from dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, they also have to find a way to connect with their mother now that their dad isn’t there to mediate anymore.

The two sisters couldn’t be more different, really. Meredith is the “responsible” one. She’s the oldest, has a husband and two adult children, and works for the family company. When their father passes away, she takes over the family business. Nina is the “free” one. She’s a photojournalist, and travels around the world capturing photos of heartbreaking scenes. One is portrayed as uptight, strict, and a creature of routine while the other is free and following her dreams.

At first, I disliked Meredith and loved Nina. As someone who loves to travel and consider themselves independent and free, her character spoke to me more. Whereas Meredith spent a lot of time judging her sister’s choices at the start of the book. About halfway through the story, my perspective on the sisters changed. I started to see Nina as not only free, but also more of a selfish person than Meredith (which is not always a bad thing, people). Meredith is the one who shoulders the responsibility to make life for her loved ones easier, and that’s not an easy role to take.

There’s this weight of guilt and responsibility that comes with taking care of your family. How do you find a balance between taking care of them enough, yet not losing yourself in the process? Meredith reminded me of my mom, in a way, since she is the one who is always working for others and always ready to help, yet never seems to receive any thanks in return. It’s something I’ve been trying to work more on, to say thank you more often, because I don’t want people’s efforts to go unappreciated.

The main plotline of the story is related to the fairy tale their mother tells. I don’t want to give much away here because that would take away from the impact of this story, but just know that it is absolutely heartbreaking. I wanted to hug this woman so badly.

If you’re interested in adult contemporary fiction or adult historical fiction, I would highly recommend this story. While it isn’t my favorite Kristin Hannah novel, it still had the emotional impact I expected from her stories.

Have you read Winter Garden?