A Song to Drown Rivers

Book Cover: A Song to Drown Rivers

Ann Liang’s A Song to Drown Rivers is an emotional exploration of sacrifice and revenge.

Xishi is an unparalleled beauty who lives in a remote Yue village, terrorized by nightmares of her younger sister’s murder at the hands of Wu soldiers.

Enter Fanli, a famous military advisor to the Yue King. Fanli is searching for a beautiful girl to send as a bride to the Wu King, someone who can be trained as a spy and work to undermine the Wu kingdom.

Enlisting Xishi for this mission, Fanli trains her in deception, cunning, and intrigue. Xishi learns to use her beauty as both a weapon and as armor.

As Xishi climbs ranks with the Wu court and captures the attention of the Wu King, she finds it harder and harder to maintain her hatred. Yet, ultimately, she knows what she must do and the price she must pay for failure.

How much must Xishi sacrifice? For her family, her kingdom, and to avenge her sister? Who is the true enemy within this complicated web of lies?

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I loved the character development, the pacing, and the rise and fall of emotions. If this doesn’t leave you teary-eyed, you may have a heart of stone.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy in exchange for sharing my opinions. All opinions in this review are my own. Links in this review are affiliate links, and I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Real Americans

Real Americans by Rachel Khong is a multi-generational novel that centers on American identity and the theme of nature vs. nurture.

Book Cover: Real Americans by Rachel Khong.

The novel starts with Lily Chen and tells the meet cute story of how she meets and falls in love with Matthew. I found this part of the novel the most enjoyable.

Unfortunately, we then jump forward in time and follow Nick Chen as he struggles with feelings of not belonging. As we follow Nick, desperately seeking his place in the world, we meet May, Nick’s grandmother, and Lily’s estranged mother.

This introduces another time shift. Here, we learn how May and Charles fled from Mao’s Communist China and ended up in America.

Going back in time loses momentum in the story. Also, at this point, I don’t really care about the story or the characters. I just want it to be over.

Others may enjoy this more than I did. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not one that I loved either.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor for an advance copy in exchange for sharing my opinions. All opinions in this review are my own. Links in this review are affiliate links, and I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The Redemption of Morgan Bright

Chris Panatier’s The Redemption of Morgan Bright is a fantasy-horror novel with a patriarchy reminiscent of The Handmaiden’s Tale. In a world where men can have their wives admitted for psychiatric care against their will, all under the guise of “domestic psychosis,” Morgan Bright goes into Hollyhock Asylum with a secret.

book cover: The Redemption of Morgan Bright.

The novel is told from the perspective of Charlotte and Morgan and is interspersed with excerpts from police interviews and text messages. As the story unfolds, we learn that Morgan desperately wants to understand what happened to her sister, Hadleigh, who died while wandering alone along the road outside the asylum.

All in all, I felt the novel moved at a very slow pace. There’s a lot of character development and narrative twists throughout. However, the supernatural aspect of the horror elements didn’t do much for me. Additionally, the police interviews and text messages, while important to the story-telling, felt forced and intrusive.

If supernatural novels with an evil patriarchy are your jam, you might like this more than I did.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and Angry Robot for an advance copy in exchange for sharing my opinions. All opinions in this review are my own. Links in this review are affiliate links, and I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Mirrored Heavens

Mirrored Heavens book cover, featuring a woman with glowing eyes and large headdress.

Mirrored Heavens is the fabulous conclusion to the Between Earth and Sky trilogy by Rebecca Roanhorse.

With fantastic world building, magic, and intrigue, the Between Earth and Sky trilogy is on par with some of my other favorite fantasy series, such as the Broken Earth, and Inheritance trilogies by N.K. Jemisin.

Naranpa, avatar of the Sun God, and Serapio, the Crow God Reborn, both seek to save their people. They each face their own enemies, as we traverse the lands of Meridian, from the depths of the wastelangs, to Tova where the sun no longer shines, and the island of Teek, where the all-female islanders’ magic is fading.

At over 600 pages, it’s another long one, as are the first two books in the trilogy. However, I can’t recommend this enough! I loved the whole series, with its unique take on mythology, legends, magic, and the place of gods among us.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and S&S/Saga Press for an advance copy in exchange for sharing my opinions. All opinions in this review are my own. Amazon links in this review are affiliate links, and I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.