Mini Reviews #27: Late June – Early July 2022

In the Vanisher’s Palace by Aliette de Bodard

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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I’ve been seeing this book a lot lately so I decided to pick it up on a whim. From the beginning, the setting really intrigued me with our main character coming from a dying world, where people who got sick with the plague either died or being quarantined and killed. This plague is the result of “The Vanisher”‘s experiment, a group of being who ruled over the humans and ancient Gods before moving to a different world. Our main character, Yên, is at a perilous situation for being a daughter of a healer but without magic herself, rendering her useless. When she was sold to the dragon Vu Côn, she was apprehensive but quickly got used to her.

The fantasy aspect of the story is kinda hard for me to grasp. I don’t think I got a clear idea on who The Vanisher was; I felt like it was a metaphors for the colonizers with how they erased ancient Viet language and weakened the Gods and the people, but I’m not entirely sure. The magic was interesting in the way that it’s a series of poetry-like words rather than simple incantations, and while The Vanisher’s palace was interesting, the concept really confused me. The attraction between Yên and Vu Côn wasn’t really something I cared about, I wished it developed better. The best part of the story would be the twins, Thông and Liên, who provide much needed vitality to the story. I also love how in this world choosing their gender and pronouns are the norm. The world building really felt like a mix between Strange the Dreamer and Tensorate series!

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land…

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village’s debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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This is my second book by the author and I really enjoyed this one! It’s a story full of hearts; of love, loss, and grief, or unlearning and learning, of secrets and family. It took a while for the girls to learn about each other, but even before they know each other we can see how each of them grief differently– Yahaira’s was tinged with regret, anger, and bitterness while Camino’s was tinged with yearning and fear for the future. Not only finding out about the father, both girls learn about the family and their past history and for Yahaira, about her roots. At first awkward and bitter, they both learned to embrace their relationships and becoming sisters for each other.

As with With the Fire on High, family and mother figures played an important role for our character’s story. From how their story begin, to how it left them as such a different situation, and how it helped them heal and support them in facing the future. Aside from loss, it also touched about racism with how easy Yahaira came to the DR while Camino had to wait for years for her chance. There’s one scene I don’t think need to go that far/to happen at all but it became a turning point in uniting their family; I just wish it didn’t have to go to that road.

Overall, it’s a fantastic book with fantastic audiobook narration!

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Rating: 5 out of 5.

No one is more excited than I am to report that yes, I finally read one of the oldest book on my TBR and yes, it was as amazing as I expected it to be!

Grave Mercy tells the story of Ismae, who after a brutal upbringing and sold to an abusive husband, was rescued to the Convent of St. Mortain. This is not your ordinary convent, as Brittany’s God of Death, the convent honor its god by assassinate anyone marked by the god himself.

Set in the era where Brittany fought for its independence from French, this book is a perfect blend of historical fiction, romance, political intrigue, and action. Most of the characters and events were based from real historical fictions, including the successive betrayals and disgusting marriage proposals. Due to the many events that transpired, the plot was fast paced and action packed, but it still allowed the characters to shine and the romance to blooms. Ismae is an amazing character, from the beginning I admire her will to fight and her sense of protectiveness even to those she doesn’t know (like Sybella & Annith). Her wit and will is the perfect match with Duval’s own political minds and protectiveness of the Duchess. Anne, Duchess of Brittany is also such an admirable figure with despite how young she was, she knew the duty of her station and not only her privilege. Honestly, this book was everything I imagined and more; I’m a bit wary to continue with the series as it focuses on a different character but at the same time, I’m also excited to go back to this world!

Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Focusing on Sybella, the second book in His Fair Assassin series is an explosive one. Not only due to Sybella’s personality, but due to the amount of secrets and twists revealed in this book.

Sybella’s past has always been a mysterious one, even for Ismae and Annith. In this book, we got why Sybella took such pains in hiding her past as well as the cause of the state which she came to the convent. It was dark, it was painful, and something that made me think this book should be adult instead of YA. From murder, to incest, to abuse, Sybella’s past has it all. This book is also darker since Beast and Sybella went down to the fighting field, we see war and its toll on death. While Ismae’s story and ability to see the mark is only for her victims, Sybella was able to see the mark on her companions the night before they rode out which made their ability and story much more impactful.

I adore the Beast; I’m glad to see more of him and certainly think he’s someone worthy of Sybella’s love from the way he accepts her wholly and how well-matched they are in the fighting field. But I do wish it has slower progress and we see more moments between them. A huge part of the book is spent on the road during the Beast rescue, and then when both of them went fighting on the field which is great but personally, I do prefer being at the court with all its political intrigue.

I have to say I prefer the first book, but I can see why this book and Sybella is so many readers’ favorite story!

Sybella’s duty as Death’s assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic,vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy in the critically acclaimed, New York Times best-selling His Fair Assassin series, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Kristin Cashore, and Victoria Aveyard.

The convent returns Sybella to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

Return to the world of the critically acclaimed His Fair Assassin series in this “romantic fantasy with a vengeance” and sequel to Grave Mercy that takes reader’s deep into the wicked world of corrupt politics, dangerous love, and hard-won vengeance.

10 thoughts on “Mini Reviews #27: Late June – Early July 2022

  1. Agree with you about Clap When You Land, I really liked it too for the most part. I keep telling myself I need to read Grave Mercy but then… I never do heh. But you loved it so much, I might need to make it more of a priority! The premise of Vanisher’s Palace sounds SO good, but if the fantasy is hard to wrap your head around, then I doubt it will work for me- that is usually when I have a tough time with fantasy, when I just don’t get it. Wonderful reviews, glad this was a mostly good bunch for you!


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