The Poppy War
By: R.F. Kuang
Published: May 1, 2018 by Harper Voyager
Rin, a war orphan from Rooster Province, is about to be married off by her foster parents, The Fangs. She refuses to let it happen, and decides she wants to take the Keju test (an Empire wide test that finds the most talented students to study at Sinegard). Of course, she ends up passing with flying colors it and being at the top of everyone else. When she arrived at Sinegard she learned that she didn’t fit it, being the dark-skinned peasant that she was. She soon discovers that she has a power of shamanism, which not many have. From there is takes a turn, and it involves Gods, federations, and of course…War.
I could see how this received such praise, but I just didn’t find it to be that good. There were some problematic events that took place and it just completely made me not look at the book the same way. The beginning of the novel was honestly the best part of the story. I enjoyed learning about Rin and her studies at Sinegard, before she became dramatic and rash. My favorite character from the whole novel was probably Tutor Freyik who helped her study for the test and even escorted her to Sinegard.
Everyone mentioned that it read in between a young adult fantasy and adult fantasy. I honestly felt like it leaned more towards young adult. It was a very entertaining read, but I wanted more from it. I wanted it to be dark and gruesome. It definitely lacked, and that’s the main reason I picked this up. For all those reasons I couldn’t bring myself to give it 4 stars.
The Two Towers
By: J.R.R. Tolkien
Published: September 18, 2012 by Mariner Books
This is the second book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so I will try to be vague and brief. In this second installment, you follow all the characters that have been split up after what had happened in the first novel. You are still following Frodo, and all his companions and enemies, on his journey to destroy the Ring at Mount Doom.
I was actually a little disappointed with this one. It didn’t keep my interest 80% of the time I was reading it. I understand that the third one is the climax and this is just the in between. I don’t have a lot to say about it other than that. All the characters were the same as the first one, and they were continuing on their journey.
Side note: I don’t know if this is an unpopular opinion but I just love Smeagol. He’s hilarious. I’m glad we get more of him in this one. I watched the movie right after finishing the book, and I can definitely relate to Smeagol and all of his melt downs (haha).
I still recommend this one, just because you will have no idea what’s happening in the third book. Just know that it’s shorter and not that interesting. I still enjoy Tolkien’s writing though and I will obviously continue!
The Invention of Wings
By: Sue Monk Kidd
Published: January 7, 2014 by Viking
Genre: Historical Fiction
In this novel you are following a young slave, Hetty (Handful), and Sarah Grimke, daughter of a wealthy family. It takes place in mostly Charleston, but some of the characters travel north later on in the book. On Sarah’s eleventh birthday her parents, Mary and Judge John Grimke, gifted her Hetty as her slave. Sarah wanted no part of owning a slave. She knew that her goal in life is to do something large in the world. The 35 year span (1803-1838) of the novel takes us through a journey of these two women and how they try their hardest to live lives of their own. Eventually the two sisters, Sarah and Angelina (Nina), become one of the most famous and infamous figures of the abolition and women’s rights movements.
*If you did not know, this story was inspired by the real Sarah Grimke. In the author’s note at the end of the novel, Kidd tells us everything that was fact and fiction. I actually recommend you do read the author’s note.
In all honesty, I never really felt connected to any of the characters. It was heartbreaking to read what happened to the slaves, but I just felt like they all fell just a little flat. For that reason it probably didn’t pack a big enough punch for me to move the rating to four stars. I’m also not saying that I didn’t enjoy the writing and the story. The writing was beautiful, and I will probably read other novels by Kidd. I just figured for the rating of the novel on Goodreads it should have hit me harder.
I am going to recommend it to you though. I think that there is an importance to the novel considering the time period. A lot happened then and everyone should learn even just a little bit about it. If you pick this up and absolutely hate it you still will have learned just a little bit more that maybe you haven’t learned before.
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Let me know what you thought of any of these if you have read them.