Review: The Burning God (The Poppy War #3)

Review: The Burning God (The Poppy War #3)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

This review will be spoiler-free for The Burning God, but will mention content that will be spoiler-ish to the two previous books in the series, The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic.

Betrayed once again, Rin returns home to the southern provinces of Nikara and begins to take her own stand for her future. The people of the South are fighting two battles: one with the stranded Mugen soldiers and another with the Dragon Warlord. Rin can help, but she faces even more difficulty as the Southern Coalition aren’t too happy with her arrival. But the common people rise behind her, and she quickly realises that power is within the people who are done with being treated as fodder. But will Rin be strong enough to resist the Phoenix who calls for her to burn the world, along with everyone she loves with it? As she begins to grow her army, Rin must make her final stand against the Hesperians, or lose her country to colonisers once again.

I remember reading TPW for the first time back in 2018. It was exhilarating and one of the best books I had ever read. (Still is one of the best books I’ve ever read.) Kuang makes her mark with this series, and in this finale, the stakes are higher than ever before. And I can now confirm that The Poppy War trilogy is one of the best series I have ever had the privilege to read. This trilogy is just pain in three acts. Not one of the books falter, and Rin’s story remains incredible and deeply saddening at the same time.

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Review: The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2)

Review: The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After causing the fall of Mugen and the ending the Third Poppy War, Rin is on the run. Hiding from her vengeful god, who rises to wreak havoc, hiding from the Empress who sold out her country, while plotting her revenge. But the Cike is a only a few numbers and with no other options, Rin must join the Dragon Warlord, who plans to remove the Empress and establish a brand new Republic. Struggling to control her power, Rin throws herself into the democratic turmoil, learning that the Empress holds darker secrets than she first anticipated and the Dragon Warlord’s beliefs are not what she expected. She might have ended the Third War, but another is about to begin and Rin will do anything to exact her revenge.

I had put off reading The Dragon Republic for so long. After reading the emotional turmoil that was The Poppy War back in 2018, my anticipation for its sequel, The Dragon Republic, was sky high. Life got in the way and a pandemic finally gave me time to read its sequel in time for the finale. The Poppy War was a wild fire start, burning from the first page. We witnessed Rin grow from a young child, unaware of her past to a young adult, that quite literally lit the world on fire. The Dragon Republic continues straight from the aftermath of TPW, Rin is tired and confused, while also battling the literal god that resides within her. She had ended the Mugen Federation overnight, but now she must face the consequences, and prepare for her next move: killing the Empress. Which is hard enough when her band of friends are labelled enemies of the Nikan Empire, and Rin struggles to control herself without the use of opium.

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Crowning Soul – Blog Tour (w/ PC & Mobile wallpaper!)

Crowning Soul – Blog Tour (w/ PC & Mobile wallpaper!)

Be swept away in this unique fantasy debut from Sahira Javaid. A spellbinding adventure of belonging, finding hope and where the price of a soul is another soul’s fate. Perfect for fans of InuYashaChildren of Blood and Bone and The Candle and The Flame.

Nezha Zaman considers her gift to control fire a dangerous secret. A secret that unravels when she encounters a vengeful shadow jinni in a maze garden that has been stalking her family, and knows about her power. Weeks after seeing the demonic being, Nezha is torn from her world through her backyard pond and transported to another dimension which sought out the light inside her heart.

Nezha learns from two unicorns that the dimension is her family’s roots, and the light is a fragment of an angel’s shattered soul. The three must work together to find the soul’s shards in a land teeming with shape-shifting jinn. If Nezha fails to stop the corrupted Iron Prince, the malevolent jinn at his side will shatter her soul next.


Hello all! It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. It almost feels alien typing this right now. A while ago, I reached out to Qamar Blog Tour since I was interested in joining their first ever blog tour for Crowning Soul by Sahira Javaid! They are a blog tour specialised in organising promotional book tours for Muslim authors! They also prioritise Muslim reviewers and aim to invite as many international reviewers as they can. So check them out!

Unfortunately, I was unable to prepare a review for this tour, so I thought the best way to promote this tour was to share these downloadable wallpapers, featuring three quotes that I really stood out to me in this book! Below you can see the previews of the wallpapers together. There is a PC version and a mobile version. I tried to keep the sizing as universal as I could but they easily fit most devices. You can either download them from Google Drive or MEGA. (Link can be found below the previews!)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Image Credit: Mari Potter and Joshua Reddekopp

Image Credit: Joshua Newton

Like these quotes? Well, Crowning Soul is available for purchase now! Add on Goodreads!


GOOGLE DRIVE FILE DOWNLOAD | MEGA.NZ DOWNLOAD

Follow the tour and check out the twitter thread with everyone’s linked post!

About the author!

Sahira Javaid is a YA Fantasy writer and poetess from Ottawa who shares her poems on her Twitter page and her website. Fond of animals, nature and learning, she passes time with reading about the world around her, nature’s healing ways, chatting with friends and making others smile and laugh every time she gets. Her poetry book Crack of Dawn is available on Amazon and other online retailers.

Twitter | Site | Pinterest | Goodreads

Review: I’ll Be the One

Review: I’ll Be the One

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Skye Shin takes a chance by auditioning in a US K-pop music competition where contestants must compete against each other to impress the judges in a bid to win an opportunity to train in a South Korean music company. She’s up against hundreds of hopeful youths who are aiming to please the crowds, and she nails her audition, despite facing comments about her weight from the judges. But she has her sights set on success and no one, not even her overbearing mother and a growing crush on her competition, can stop her.

I had very high expectations for I’ll Be the One, and it’s so frustrating when you read a book that has so much potential, but it fails immensely in its execution. Skye is a young teen who has faced continuously comments about her weight, from passerby’s and their wandering eyes to her mother, who never fails to make at least one comment about her daughter’s body. She has grown quite the thick skin which makes her audition for a rising K-pop star competition go viral when she stands up to the judgemental comments about her body. Suddenly, everyone wants to know who she is and the comments come flooding in. Her mother wants her to quit, but Skye can’t give up the opportunity this win could give her. A chance to live in South Korea while training to be a potential K-pop star. That doesn’t help that Skye also has a crush on a fellow competitor, Henry Cho, who comes from a chaebol family (business conglomerate) and is notoriously known for his social media presence.

I’ll Be the One‘s greatest strength was the conversation about body-shaming and Skye’s journey as she navigates her life as a fat girl.  Even though it isn’t own-voices, it was the part that stuck out the most to me and felt the most realistic. My own body isn’t that far off from Skye, and it truly felt like I was looking through my own eyes in some moments. I’m not Korean, but there is a similarity in Asian cultures about body types. My heart ached for Skye as she tries to prove her worth to her own mother. The latter who brushes everything off and continues to force very harmful ideals to her daughter, and does not take into account her feelings and thoughts in the entire process. I also really loved Skye as a character.

Okay, and here comes the rest of it. A lot of the book is about Skye’s internal struggle as she faces fatphobic comments about her body, and I wish the rest of the novel also stood as firm as those elements. Everything else about this book just felt flat. I found the writing style to be so weak, close to the point where I almost didn’t enjoy the book anymore. The dialogue felt so bulky that it read as unrealistic at some points. Some characters were terrific, especially Skye’s little group of friends that she makes in the competition were so sweet. You get some brilliant characters that are well thought out, and then others feel one-dimensional, and it was quite jarring to read. The romance for me was a miss, there was no build-up between the two, and it all felt forced for the sake of the plot. At one point, they would’ve been better off as close friends. There’s a lot of moments where we’re told how to feel rather than showing it play out, and it makes the story progression feel too easy.

The thing about I’ll Be the One is that I can see what the author was trying to create her, and I was so ready to praise this book hard from the very beginning. Still, it lacked in small areas that, overall, impacted my reading experience. I understand this review feels so negative, but I do believe in this book. And I would recommend it to anyone interested in the summary because it was still a fun book to read. It’s one of those books where you really have to take into account your own reading taste. Because I thought I would enjoy this, and while I did somewhat enjoy it, it still lacked in certain aspects. I don’t know if this book will continue to be a series in the future. And I’m not sure if I would be ready to follow Skye’s story in the future.


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Review: How It All Blew Up

Review: How It All Blew Up

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

After fear of being outed by a classmate, Amir Azadi runs away and finds sanctuary in Italy. And when in Rome, right? Homeless and alone, Amir finds an unlikely community in Italy and learns to rediscover himself, all parts of him. But on his way home, after an incident on a plane, he’s forced to recount his days and tell his story in front of an interrogation room. All while his family are in another room telling theirs.

As a reader who is very neutral towards contemporary stories, How It All Blew Up was surprising and super refreshing. I liked it; it was something different. The story follows Amir as he recalls his entire journey to and from Italy to airport security. His family were flagged after the flight and separated so the staff could understand what was happening. Amir is an Iranian-American teenager who was moments away from graduation when a classmate threatens to out him to his Muslim family. For a while, Amir is able to buy his silence. Still, it all becomes too much on the day of graduation and, instead of heading to school, he makes his way to the airport and jumps on the first flight out of there. There he makes the decision to go to Italy and is quickly introduced to a community of people who help young Amir as he struggles to let go of his past.

I feel like the bare bones of this novel is extremely good. A story about a boy who doesn’t know what he wants just yet meets a crew of people who are willing to help and learns to understand himself in the process. I just feel like the execution of it was entirely rushed. I have to admit I was entirely hooked from the very beginning. Still, as Amir makes his roots in Italy, the story seems to lose all its interest. If you’re a reader who can suspend enough belief, this story can be magical and thrilling. But I just couldn’t engage with the story, and it began to feel very under-developed very quickly. Despite never having step foot in Italy before the novel, Amir can navigate Italian society quite quickly thanks to his new friends who help him become more comfortable with himself. The age gap between Amir and his friends was a little unsettling. At first, I didn’t think much of it, mainly because they are introduced as essential figures in Amir’s life who help him come to terms with his sexuality. I really found them all sweet in the beginning, giving Amir much-needed stability. Slowly, he realises he’s been looking through rose-tinted glasses, and his perfect friends aren’t as perfect as he’s built them up to be. I feel like the age gap between Amir, and his friends should’ve been acknowledged more, especially since two of them make a move on him when he’s only just turned eighteen.

What the synopsis doesn’t tell you is that the book is also told from other perspectives, mainly Amir’s sister. She is desperately trying to find her brother with quick scenes from his parent’s views. This gave them a lot more depth and understanding. I actually really liked the pacing between Amir’s chapters with the ones of him family as they all tell their part of the story, piecing together and leading to the moment where it all, essentially, blew up. That part was quite fun. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of the story being told in the middle of an interrogation mostly. I guess for the sake of the story, it added a dramatic flair, but I wonder if there was another way of doing it.

I wasn’t anticipating for this review to come out so negative. I quite enjoyed Amir’s story at the beginning. How It All Blew Up was uplifting and adventurous. I was rooting for a better life for Amir. It’s a shame this story was lacking a lot in terms of pacing and characterisation because the plot was so good that I was disappointed that the rest didn’t hold up.


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Review: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

Review: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

When aboard the ship and amongst the crew that saved her life, Flora becomes Florian, a former street urchin turned crew hand who is desperately trying to make a life for herself and her brother. But her voyage takes a turn when the captain decides to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery and assigns Flora as the guard to young Evelyn. Unaware of the captain’s plan, Evelyn believes she is en route to an arranged marriage and doesn’t anticipate the impact of meeting Florian. Together, they must work to fight for their own freedom without losing themselves to the depths of the sea.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was rather interesting. It was quite a punchy, fast-paced read of two young adults desperate to do the right thing. I did come into reading this with very high expectations, and while a lot of them were met, I wasn’t exactly all too blown away with this book. But I still enjoyed this story. I consider it a solid and entertaining debut.

What I loved most about this book was the world. I believe it’s the book’s strongest point. At the time of writing this review, the author has stated it is currently a stand-alone, but I would be interested in seeing what else the author has to offer from this world. Even if we don’t continue Flora and Evelyn’s story, the brickwork that the author has laid down here has SO much potential. I love how dark this book was, and I wasn’t expecting it, so it came as an exciting surprise. I truly loved how the author uses the Sea as this dark mother nature figure who is wholly vengeful and protective over its inhabitants. This comes in the form of a mermaid who Florian and Evelyn work to save as the crew members terrorise the mermaid for its mind-altering blood. Florian then encounters witches and finds themselves delving deep into witchcraft in order to protect themselves. There is an excellent commentary on the impact of colonialism and imperialism. Flora strives to be free from imperialist forces and wishes to live without fear of capture alongside her brother. We are also introduced to side-characters who bring much-needed depth to where I think Flora and Evelyn fail to give due to their limiting world-view, this includes a fellow crewmate, which I would love to read more about, what we’re given about him is so intriguing, even a short story to delve into his past would be enough.

The story is fun, and the characters were engaging to read about. And while I did speed through this book, the pacing in this book is a little off, as it is split into three sections. Some moments are rushed through while other areas are given time, which I don’t think it really needed. What didn’t work for me in this story was the relationship between Florian and Evelyn, more specifically, their romance. This book is dependent on them falling in love, but it falls rather flat, which is why I had decided to rate this book much lower than I wanted. The duo meet quite late in the book, and coupled with the weird pacing, the impact of their relationship didn’t feel right or even believable because it’s all based on a handful of short conversations between the two and the rest of the development occurred off-page and told to readers in between chapters. I really liked Flora, they were such an interesting character, and I was genuinely rooting for them and their dream for a better life. Their relationship with their brother was so good, and it’s such a shame, we don’t get to delve deeper into it. Because of the length of this book, it meant so much is introduced and then discarded so the story can continue, and I left sorely disappointed that the narrative just doesn’t return to something that is set up to be necessary. The lack of tension is what led the stakes and story feeling sorely under-developed and lacklustre.

Overall, The Mermaid, The Witch and The Sea was an interesting read. I feel like this story has a lot of potential in its world and characters. I still enjoyed it for what its worth but I really wished we had more time which would’ve made the story feel more fluid and move more realistically. As I mentioned before, the world-building is a shining point, which is why I would recommend and I would definitely pick up any future novels set in this universe because I don’t think it was fully utilised in this book.


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