Publisher: Harper Voyager Publication Date: 23/08/2022 Length: 544 pages Genre: Fantasy | Historical Fiction | Dark Academia
Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.
1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.
Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.
Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?
I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of 2020, it’s insane to think about when how long this year felt back in the Spring! I hope you all managed to enjoy the holiday period despite the pandemic. I haven’t read as much this month which was to be expected with Christmas and New Year, plus I have been working on getting blog content ready for 2021, however I did still manage to read some great novels this month!
Books read this month
This month I read a total of 6 books (6 physical and 0 ebooks)
The Burning Godby R.F. Kuang I doubt that this comes as a surprise as all as both of the instalments before this one have made it to this section in previous monthly wrap ups! As you can tell from my previous review, I could talk about this book for a while so I will keep this brief: this is a great end to the series. It was brilliant and bittersweet. I’m genuinely sad that this series is over but it has spurred me to read many more fantasy series in 2021!
The Beast Playerby Nahoko Uehashi This is one fantasy series that I will be continuing in 2021 after loving this first instalment. Although I’ve been reading more fantasy novels this year, I have been slightly disappointed with the lack of fantastical creatures in them (even if the novels were still great) so when I came across this novel all about fantastical beasts and caring for them I was thrilled. I loved the characters in this book and even though it is a title from Pushkin Children, it is one that I would encourage everyone to read no matter how old you are.
little scratchby Rebecca Watson My full review of this novel will be coming out in a couple of weeks, so you’ll be able to see read my gushing then! Just know that this is a very challenging novel due to its content and the writing style and I loved every page of it. It’s a very raw and refreshing read that I’m still thinking about even now.
Elantrisby Brandon Sanderson In 2020 I rediscovered my love for fantasy novels and my last book of the year became one of my favourites of the year when I read Brandon Sanderson for the first time, after his books have been recommended to me for quite some time. Filled with brilliant characters in an expertly crafted world with such fascinating lore. I’m very excited to read more of his work in 2021.
Did you manage to get much reading in December? Was it a race to meet your reading challenge goal or did you fit in reading time around what festivities you were able to have? Let me know in the comments!
Publisher: HarperVoyager UK Publication Date: 26/11/2020 Length: 640 pages Genre: Fantasy
CW: sexual assault, violence, drug use
After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead.
Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.
Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it?
Publisher: HarperVoyager UK Publication Date: 08/08/2019 Length: 658 pages Genre: Fantasy
CW: sexual assault, violence, drug use
In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.
With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.
But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.
I’ve had such an amazing year in terms of books, I seem to have read so many brilliant ones which hasn’t happened for a while! So, it’s going to be tough to just pick my five favourite reads of the year. In order to make it slightly easier for myself I’ve decided to just focus on those books that were published in 2020. Although, that’s still going to be a challenge!
These aren’t in any particular order as I loved all of them and couldn’t choose between them to even have a singular favourite out of the five!
This novel combines two of my biggest loves: Japan and cats, however this novel went way beyond what I was expecting. Whilst the novel sounds like it is a collection of short stories of different people in Tokyo, they are actually all related to each other in some way some with just subtle nods and others more detailed. Each story too is told in a different way, not only does Bradley wonderfully craft a brilliant cast of characters, but each segment is written in a different genre, from mystery fiction, to haikus, to manga this book has it all! Although the novel is written this way, it doesn’t feel disjointed in the slightest, in fact it makes it feel even more cohesive as it gives each character a unique voice and really emphasises how many different types of people there are in Tokyo (or any city, for that matter). It also emphasises how talented Bradley is as a writer.
This is easily one of the most unique novels that I have ever read. I was drawn to this novel by the beautiful hardback and the mysterious description. It’s impossible to capture the brilliance of this novel in just a few words, especially as going into this novel completely blind really makes the experience even more magical and more impactful. I loved the protagonist and the way he views, and catalogues, the world that he is in. After finishing the novel I just wanted to re-read it immediately and experience it all over again as I was in denial that it was over. Once I had finished Piranesi I just had to sit quietly for a while afterwards just absorbing what I had just read and, almost mourning the fact that I won’t get to experience the novel for the first time again. This narrative and story is one of the most unique I have ever read, I can’t think of another novel like it and I doubt I’ll find another one like it for years, if ever.
This is one of the strongest debut novels I have read in a long time and has me very excited, not just for the rest of this series but for any work Gong releases in the future. As an English Literature graduate, I love Shakespeare so I’m always intrigued by adaptations of his works and this was, without a doubt, one of the most refreshing takes on Romeo and Juliet since Baz Lurnham’s. This take on Romeo and Juliet is set in 1920s Shanghai, home to the blood feud of two rival gangs, with a slight fantastical element too, is just such a unique way to transform a classic work of literature. Don’t be fooled, however, just because you may have read and studied Romeo and Juliet there are still many surprises and twists that you won’t see coming.
This novel was very bittersweet for me, as I’m sure it was for everyone else. Not only was the novel a great ending to the series but it also means that the series has ended. Going into this book you know that you won’t get a ‘happily ever after’ ending, no matter how much you may want and wish for it. If you haven’t read any of these books, you need to do so in 2021 as they will have a huge impact on you. What I often worry about with the last book in a series is whether everything in the previous instalments were relevant to the ending or completely disregarded. However, that certainly wasn’t the case with The Burning God – Kuang continued to build upon the character development but there were also many callbacks to the first book too. This novel was a wonderful end to a wonderful series and I can’t wait to see what Kuang does next.
I received this book as book mail from Bloomsbury, which was a complete surprise to me, and I adored this book. Alam is a very talented writer, who expertly managed to make even a list of items bought whilst shopping make me feel uneasy. I could have happily read another few hundred pages as the novel quickly sunk it’s claws into me, and still hasn’t completely let go even now. Which is even more impressive when barely any of the characters were even likeable, but that was all part of the books appeal-these characters are flawed, average, people not heroes or anyone special which had a much bigger impact when it comes to the suffocating and unsettling tone of the novel. I feel that this is another book that will continue to reveal different things to you on each read.
It was very difficult to narrow my favourites list of the year down to five books, and I still keep changing my mind on which books I want to feature! Hence why I’m posting this list now before I change my mind again…! I may have to do a part two focusing on books that I read in 2020 but wasn’t necessarily published in 2020… Let me know if you’d be interested in reading that!
What were your favourite books of the year? Did you read a lot of great books this year or did you have a slightly disappointing book year?
This month was slow starting for me in terms of reading, I’m not sure why but I was in a bit of a slump! Maybe it was because I was being good and not doing a monthly haul this month so I didn’t feel that I had to race through to get to my new books. It definitely picked up
I’ve tried to focus more on blog tour books and review requests this month in the spirit of ‘Galleyathon’ – even if they didn’t all come from NetGalley specifically!
Books read this month
This month I read a total of 13 books (7 physical and 6 ebooks)
Nevernightby Jay Kristoff This is the first in the Nevernight chronicle series which is definitely one that I will be finishing after such a strong start! I adored this fantasy novel, I loved the world, the characters and the tone of the novel. I wasn’t expecting this novel to have as much humour in it as it does which I really loved.
There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura In this novel Tsumura brilliantly captures work burnout and jumping from job to job as a temp. I especially loved how each job wasn’t exactly what it seemed and there was some kind of mystery surrounding them.
The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang It’s no surprise that this made it onto this list as I loved The Poppy War. All the characters were wonderfully developed and you could clearly see how they were impacted from the first novel. This was a brilliant second instalment to the series and had me incredibly excited for the last novel The Burning God.
The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji I do love a good detective fiction novel and this is one of the best that I have ever read. It simultaneously feels like a classic detective fiction novel but it also feels very contemporary and subversive in some ways, despite the novel originally being published in the 1980s.
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam I can’t remember the last time a book left me as unsettled as this one. Alam has such a way with words and tone that you feel suffocated from the very pages, yet you can’t help yourself but keep turning them. Alam also clearly understands people as his characters don’t feel like characters at all, but people you have met in passing instead.