Nectar by Upile Chisala

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In nectar, Chisala guides readers through a beautiful process of growth and renewal. These poems celebrate our always complex, sometimes troubled roots while encouraging us to grow through and beyond them toward a passionate self-love. Chisala’s hope is that her words will encourage readers to sow seeds of change in their own lives and the lives of others.

I received this from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Indivisible and the Void by D.M. Wozniak

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Each year, Democryos sends his brightest student into the war-torn countryside to work magic. But when his wife leaves him for a mysterious stranger, he finds his own life ravaged.

Forsaking the comfort of the citadel, he searches for her, traveling through the same forgotten lands where he sent his students. Along the way, he befriends an elusive member of the king’s harem, a holy man harboring guilt, and a maimed soldier. Together, they stumble upon a key—not only to the war, but to understanding the magic of voidance itself.

I received this from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review (it’s spoiler-free!!).

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Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Illustrated by Wendy Xu

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  • Goodreads
  • Amazon
  • Genre: graphic novel, supernatural (witches, werewolves, etc.)

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

Disclaimer: I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The content/art of the book as I read it is not the final version.

My spoiler-free review:

So this was a super sweet little graphic novel that I genuinely enjoyed reading! The whole thing was very wholesome and vanilla, with a cozy, witchy aesthetic that makes me wish it were spooky season. The plot was satisfying, although there seemed to be a few holes (that could have been a result of me not reading closely enough, though). For a graphic novel, I think the little world was very well-developed, and I liked the witch-culture that it established. I wish there had been a bit more structure to the magic, but that’s a personal preference. 

The love-story aspect wasn’t too overwhelming, just really sweet and heartwarming. I love the diversity of the characters, too—from hearing-impaired and Chinese to non-binary and queer, there was no lack of individualism in the protagonists. I liked it because although these characters have these diverse elements as a part of their identity, it doesn’t completely define them. They are just people who happen to have a hearing impairment or be gay. It doesn’t overwhelm the rest of their personality and become their single identifying trait. 

And of course, the art!  It was drawn in such a lovely and unique style. The colors were beautiful and engaging, and the panels were well-planned and easy to read and follow. My only complaint is that I received an advance copy, so the coloring wasn’t quite finished towards the end of the book. I guess that just means I’ll be buying a hard copy when it’s released 🙂

Bonus: there are cute cats and lots of puns!

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The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

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TW: rape, gore, war, drug addiction/abuse, genocide, racism

The searing follow-up to 2018’s most celebrated fantasy debut – THE POPPY WAR.

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.

The sequel to R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed debut THE POPPY WAR, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC combines the history of 20th-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating effect. 

Read below for my spoiler-free review. (Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, quotations may not be present in the published book)

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