Spoiler Free Review: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Title: She Who Became the Sun

Author: Shelley Parker-Chan

Pub. Date: July 20th 2021

Genre: Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: TOR Books

Pages: 416 pages

It’s 1345 and China is under Mongol rule. A famine is killing many, leaving villages with nothing in its wake. To be born male is to be deemed of value and families will sacrifice their daughters in exchange for food and safety from bandits. We’re introduced to a boy destined for greatness and his sister who is one of the few (if not the only) girls left in her village. A prophecy is issued and the boy is said to be destined for greatness whereas the girl would amount to “nothingness.” When a bandit attack leaves them orphaned, it’s the girl who takes fate/destiny into her own hands. Taking her brother’s identity, Zhu Chongba begins her journey to greatness. She is 10 years old when she goes to the local monastery with hopes of being allowed entrance as a young novice. She spends several nights at the monasteries gates amongst others who are also trying to gain acceptance, a monastery is said to never go without food. She is beaten and pushed away until eventually she’s the only one left and therefore allowed access. Head shaved and prepubescent, armed with her brother’s identity, Zhu Chongba begins her journey to power. Her ambition and drive will take her to unthinkable heights. For Zhu a life well lived is one of value and accolades, she sees clearly the role that gender plays in politics and uses that insight to rise through the ranks as Zhu Chongba. Driven by purpose, Zhu will stop at nothing to achieve the greatness the prophet once said her brother would attain. 

“Most strong-willed people never understand that will alone isn’t enough to guarantee their survival. They don’t realize that even more so than will, survival depends upon an understanding of people and power.”
― Shelley Parker-Chan

I wasn’t expecting to get lost within the power hungry pages of this book but from the moment I picked it up I was transfixed by our main character. In a famine filled world where everyone is fighting to live one more day, our MC has the innate ability to turn the tides in her favor. Zhu is fiercely determined to make her life mean something by any means necessary. With every connection she makes, she strategically advances towards the top. Her biggest enemy is Ouyang, a Eunuch General who has his own agenda and has targeted Zhu as the only one standing in his way. Shelley Parker-Chan gives us a revenge plot along with themes of destiny, gender, power and the ambition to defy that which your gender has predetermined. These characters are ALL morally grey and multi-faceted, often times I found myself rooting for each of their agendas as cut throat as they were. If you love Historical Fiction and/or intricately written political power plays, this can absolutely be your jam! If you enjoy reading characters that have been discarded and despite all odds rise to the top, then this book will more than tick off the box! This book is violent yet engrossing with its animated war scenes and will leave you in awe of our MC. I simply cannot wait for the next book in The Radiant Emperor series.

Content warnings (as provided by the author):
* Dysphoria
* Pre-existing non-consensual castration
* Misgendering
* Internalised homophobia
* Life-altering injury (amputation)
* Ableist language
* Non-graphic depictions of death by torture
* Major character death
* Offscreen murder of a child
* Scenes depicting extreme hunger/starvation
* Graphic depiction of a person burning to death


🖤FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS🖤

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBooks

The Story Graph: LairOfBooks

Librofm Referral Code

May Wrap-Up & Book Haul…

Hola Hola Book Lovers! May was somewhat of a return to normalcy month for me after a rocky couple of months caused by health concerns. I kept my reading light (with the exception of one book that I mentally prepared for; The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore) and instead leaned more towards small towns both on Netflix and in real life. Road trips with the windows down paired with good music were my lifeline. New York City put on its best Spring dress after a long period of hibernation and like many others, I welcomed it with arms wide open (safely of course). Mother’s Day was SUPER special thanks to two tiny humans and my boyfriend who really marked the day with a variety of heartfelt gestures and gifts. Winter clothes officially went in drawers and out came my Spring/Summer dresses, shorts, skirts and sandals. My fridge is stocked with fruits for all your fruit bowl/smoothie/juicing needs. Last but not least, I went from drinking my Cafe Bustelo to Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew cause ya girl is too hot to be drinking hot coffee. Summer is almost here Luvs!!!

wrap-up-banner

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren (my review) -*4 Stars* The Romantic Comedy that had me once again pulling out all of my unread Christina Lauren books with plans to read this summer. Hate to love (sort of) romance, dating apps, BFF who writes the MC into her Romance novels, and super supportive grandparents. I smiled more times than I could count whenever Jess & Fizzy sat at the cafe talking about the odds of GeneticAlly truly finding their soulmate. This is one I’d watch a movie adaptation of in a heartbeat!  

 The Mirror Season by Anna Marie-McLemore – *5 Stars* I have yet to write my review and have no real promises to make. This was the hardest read I’ve picked up from one of my all time favorite YA authors. The subject matter being rape that is detailed on the page is utterly heartbreaking. To then read the afterward and see that it’s based on real life events the author and a friend lived through was devestating. This was still playing out in court in an open case at the time of publication and truly speaks to the strength of the author to bring awareness to something that many teens have experienced. I fully advise looking into content warnings. 

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala – *4 Stars* My very 1st cozy mystery and it did NOT dissapoint! I was excited to see the author’s cover reveal of the sequel (Homicide and Halo-Halo) that’ll be releasing in February 2022. Arsenic and Adobo was a fun murder mystery set in a small town, following a Filipino MC who is trying to find her path after a rough break-up. She returns home where her many aunties descend and begin to apply some pressure with a lot of love. Fun & addictive!

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (my review) -*3.5 Stars* We follow 23 year old Jessamyn who has left the states with her parents to return to Malaysia and find her footing. Jess is a stressed out Zillenial Queer trying to maintain a long distance relationship with her girlfriend who no one in her family knows about. That is why when she begins to hear voices she thinks it’s a byproduct of those stressors and NOT the ghost of her Ah Ma who she never met. Ah Ma is her grandmother who when alive, was a Medium for a quiet and mysterious spirit called Black Water Sister. Ah Ma needs Jessamyn’s help in settling a score on behalf of this God or risk her wrath. Dark but also well balanced with snark and humor between Jessamyn and her Ah Ma. I’d also advise looking into content warnings.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (my review) – *6 EPIC STARS* Save the best for last amiright?!? Truly wasn’t expecting this since I admittedly fell into the unpopular opinion of not really loving Red, White, and Royal Blue. I ADORED this book to pieces and the fact that it dropped on June 1st, the first day of Pride month is 100% apropos! If I start writing I’ll never stop so instead I ask that you click on my review link so that you can read my GUSH review on the Q train. That is all. 

haul-banner

4B2406C0-2499-4199-B362-3F734FEA8178

For more Bookish photos, click on the photo to follow LairOfBooks on Bookstagram

ARIADNE | THE HUNTING WIVES | LAST SUMMER AT THE GOLDEN HOTEL | REALM BREAKER | ILLUSIONARY | THE PRISON HEALER | SON OF THE STORM | BLACK WATER SISTER | THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUÍDEA DIVINA (ARC)

It was a heavy on the Fantasy type of haul with the exception of my Book of The Month picks. Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard is very special being that it is the first Bookish Mother’s Day gift I received from my little human, she went straight towards the sword on the cover which made me so proud haha! Then I was sent a ARC copy of The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina from Atria Books (very thankful), Zoraida Cordova is a favorite author of mine so this was an exciting package to open. I LOVE the Fairyloot edition of The Prison Healer with its beautiful purple sprayed edges *heart eyes* Son of the Storm was an impulse buy while on a road trip, book store sighting always is a good reason to pull over. My review for Black Water Sister is linked up above in the Wrap-Up.

what-i-watched-banner

98ce0823e048da59f1fc39776fd29891

CRUELLA (IMDB)

WOW! I should’ve known once I saw Emma Stone was chosen to play Cruella that it would be a solid performance. I was not prepared for this villains backstory but it is absolutely the BEST one I believe Disney has produced! While writing this post I had to stop and hop over to Spotify to download the soundtrack which was ON POINT! as were all of the costumes Cruella dons throughout the movie. The duality of this character is so well delivered that I honestly will always see this version as THE story of how she came to be who we all know. HIGHLY reccomend for those who love a good villain rising backstory, however It may throw off some of the younger viewers who only know the 101 Dalmations version. Still! This was EPIC!

remote.axd

VIRGIN RIVER (IMDB)

My go-to for whenever I need a pick me up, are books and movies/tv shows that are set in small towns with a cast of characters that feel like family. This was it! Jess over at Litnoob on Bookstagram recommended Virgin River and from the very first episode I knew I would be binge watching the first two seasons on Netflix. We follow a nurse who has just lost her husband and decides to sell her house in L.A. and relocate to a remote Northern California town. The job ad she responds to online however, isn’t quite what it claimed to be. Instead she arrives at a beat down cabin, a curmudgeon doctor/employer, and a town full of neighbors who are ALL up in one another business haha! I LOVED it! anxiously anticipating season 3 streaming in July.


🖤FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS🖤

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBook

Spoiler Free RAVE Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

 54860443Title: One Last Stop

Author: Casey McQuiston

Pub. Date: June 1st 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 544 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM

ButterflyButterflyButterflyButterflyButterfly

🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

The 411..

I will preface this review with first asking that you read this book when it hits the shelves next Tuesday June 1st! That it just so happens to be the very first day of Pride month makes this pure PERFECTION! This is a SUPER SEXY, Queer, time-slip Contemporary Romance filled with all the found family feels and New York City History. Specifically the history of the Queer community and the challenges they faced as well as the many strides made leading up to present day. We meet twenty-three year old August who is quite cynical and doesn’t believe in much. She’s spent most of her life assisting her mom in trying to crack a missing persons case and decides it’s time for a change. Moving into a New York City apartment with three other queer roommates and working the night shift at a 24 hour pancake diner fast track August on becoming a true New Yorker. Always on the go. The chances of meeting the same girl on the Q train every day at the same exact time seem almost too good to be true. Yet there Jane is, on the exact morning that August is having a bad start to her day offering her a red scarf to help cover up a coffee stain. Jane, a Chinese Lesbian wearing a leather jacket with 70’s pins. She’s cool and laid back yet charming, sexy and mysterious AF! August CANNOT get her off her mind and thus begins her every morning routine ensuring she gets on the same car train at the exact hour of their first meet. This is NOT for the feint of heart Book Lovers! *turns mini desk fan on* 

writing-final-thoughts-banner-2

I’ve been waiting to find a 6 star read this year and it being days away from June, I was breaking a sweat thinking it just wasn’t going to happen. This book changed that and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t expecting it to. Although I enjoyed McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue I didn’t exactly claim it as a favorite in 2019. One Last Stop however, was the EXACT level of romance, steam, and comedy that I crave whenever I pop into the Contemporary genre. This was also a love letter to NYC, the city I was born and raised in and was able to visualize while riding the Q train with these characters. I’ll also never tire of the found family trope because it’s one that I can relate to personally with my own group of life long queer besties. The side characters were also center stage and I loved this so much! they were each so deeply fleshed out and just what August needed as a welcoming committee to the city of NY. She’s a Bisexual 23 year old paving her own way in life and that can be quite scary to do alone…except she doesn’t have to do it alone. She has Niko, the Trans Psychic Latino who read her aura and pretty much decided she had a home with them from the minute they met. Myla, a queer electrical engineer/artist who has habit of inventing weird in-home games that often take a turn for the worse. Wes, a queer Jewish tattoo artist who is in love with their neighbor but can’t muster up the courage to act on it. We get it all in this book! NYC, one hot steamy romance, time jumps to the 70’s, pancake goodness and drag queens my luvs! I can go on for days but part of the fun is getting to know these characters and falling in love with each and every one of them. I’m ready for whatever McQuiston writes next! ❤

P.S. for those thinking of giving the audiobook a go, I’d highly recommend it! the narrator was on point and I have a referral link to Librofm if you find that you’re interested <3’s!


🖤FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS🖤

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBooks

The Story Graph: LairOfBooks

WWW WEDNESDAYS 2/3/2021

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three W’s listed below. Once you’ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Sam’s comments <3’s!

The questions:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Day 3 of a snowy wintry setting in NYC and although I’m working from home, I’m still feeling that cold air in my apartment. Cozy socks & coffee are on, my window blinds are open while I watch the neighborhood help each other dig their cars out of the snow. I also have an ongoing list of “Possible Reads” cause who am I kidding with TBR’s at this point? absolutely no one smh. February is Black History Month however if you’ve been following my blog and/or my Bookstagram for some time now, then you know I read books by BIPOC authors all year long (as one should) and promote their works. I didn’t join any of the Readathons this year since reading has been touch & go for me while I juggle life and physical fitness but my intention is to amp up my reading this month. In case you’re interested in any of these Readathons (run by some of the MOST down to earth people!) I’ll bless ya with the links here:

Black Author Readathon (Check out Steps Romance Book Talk announcement Video)

Blackathon (Check out Jesse @BowtiesandBooks announcement video)

Black buck by mateo askaripour

I’m 30% into this audiobook from Libro.fm and I’ve already had some “the audacity” moments! this is a satirical take on one young black mans shot to stardom when he gets offered a “once in a lifetime” opportunity while working as a Manager at Starbucks. Darren is 22 years old and unambitious, the former Valedictorian of his class at Bronx Science. His mother who he lives with in their family owned Brownstone in Bedstuy wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential. Rhett Daniels the CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup sees that potential and is intent on getting Darren on his team. Darren joins and from day 1 is met with some quite infuriating white leadership who dish out every single stereotype there is about black people. I’ve lost track of how many times Darren has been asked whether he’s been told by anyone that he looks like MLK or Sidney Poitier. Darren’s inner monologue has me smiling at times and other times laughing, fast paced and thought provoking this book explores race and ambition through a different lens.

the project by courtney summers

I actually had started my eGalley before getting swept up in Black Buck so it’s on a slight pause for now. I’m sure when I do pick it back up I will breeze right through it since it’s based on cults and YA Thriller/Suspense novels tend to be inhale reads for me. I’ve never read anything by Courtney Summers but I do own the Sadie audiobook I shamefully have procrastinated on starting SMH! Hopefully it’s as good as many of my bookish friends are anticipating it to be *fingers crossed*

winter counts by david heska wanbli weiden

Also a audiobook from Libro.fm that is fantastically narrated! I finished listening to this one on Sunday morning and immediately 5 starred it on Goodreads & Story Graph. Set on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota, we follow Virgil Wounded Horse a biracial Lakota local enforcer who is hired to take care of criminals when the tribal council & American legal system look the other way. Things hit close to home when his 14 year old nephew gets swept up in the middle of cartel drug wars. Virgil must find a way to get him out and get rid of these bad guys who are selling heroine & hard pills to the youth on the reservation. This was a DARK challenging read at times that is mostly character driven. I have a full review coming here on the blog next week but also have a post up on Bookstagram.

Continuing on with my list of “Possible Reads” pretty much makes any of these three a contender for my next read. However, I will definitely be starting The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis next week since it is a buddy read with Melanie over @Meltotheany that I’m really looking forward to. Chances are this may change mid week since I have a couple of library holds that are looking mighty close to coming through…I’m looking at you The Right Swipe & Ring Shout cause y’all are about to throw a wrench in my reading plans haha!


🖤FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS🖤

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBooks

The Story Graph: LairOfBooks

The One Where I Try To Read All The Books…

Hey Bookworms! It’s Saturday morning when I’m writing this post to go up on Sunday. TBH I had no intentions of making this “Official” I kind of always participate on the low 😂🙈 which is probably because of how high I set the standard for myself & don’t always meet it 🤷🏻‍♀️ This time, I wanted a bit of accountability. These are just the books I’ll be reading during Contemporary-A-Thon, my actual September TBR is dreadful & scares me putting on paper so that’ll just stay in my head 😂 This readathon is run by some truly fantastic Booktubers I adore to pieces & you should definitely consider checking out:

Julie @PagesandPens

Chelsea @ChelseaDollingReads

Natasha @MyReadingIsOdd

The Challenges:

1. Read a contemporary with orange on the cover
2. Read a dark/spooky contemporary
3. Read a diverse contemporary
4. Read a contemporary in a non-traditional format
5. Read a contemporary that has your initials somewhere on the cover
6. Read a contemporary from a new to you author
7. Read a contemporary that is a 5 star prediction

 

Read a contemporary with orange on the cover  What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera Not only is my MOST anticipated Contemporary book of 2018! 😱 One of my top 3 fave authors co-wrote this book! If you’ve been following my blog for some time now, you probably know how much I LOVE Adam Silvera’s books! They always leave me wrecked yet I keep returning for more tear jerking reads. I also think this will be a 5 star read & it also fits the diverse read category as well.

🌟Bonus🌟 One of the MC’s  is Puerto-Rican & therefore this book aligns with Latinx (I sure did change it to be more inclusive) Heritage Month (9/15/2018-10/15/2018) 🖤

Read a dark/spooky contemporary  Sadie by Courtney Summers which I’ve been trying my hardest not to start before the readathon! this book legit checks off so many of my boxes & appeals to my love of Podcasts. It’s been a while since I discovered Serial & the Adnan Syed case, but my time listening/obsessing over each episode is still fresh in my memory. I’ve had a couple of book blogging buddies tell me there is now a podcast to go along with the book & GAHHH! I’m so ready! I have this book in physical format & then used 1 of my Audible credits for the audiobook after hearing some AMAZING things about the narration.

Read a diverse contemporary  The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory  is sort of a companion novel to The Wedding Date (My review) published earlier this year. Carlos, one of the side characters who starred in The Wedding Date had me wishing so hard for a character swap #jussayin 😂 he was way nicer & just all around chivalrous which is something rare. Carlos also IMO has excellent taste in foods 😉

🌟Bonus🌟 Carlos is a Latino Doctor which means this book also book aligns with Latinx (I sure did change it to be more inclusive) Heritage Month (9/15/2018-10/15/2018)

Read a contemporary in a non-traditional format  Blue is The Warmest Color by Julie Maroh is a graphic novel I’ve been meaning to get to since 2017 & never got around to it. I’ve heard it’s best to go into it blind but that it for sure is a tear jerker starring a F/F romance. STOKED to finally have no excuse to not get to this one. I also just found out a movie exists for this story (IMDB) 🖤

Read a contemporary that has your initials somewhere on the cover  The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid & no a longer title I could not find 😂 truth be told, I’ve been DYING to read this for so long. My initials are simple, ‘LB’ or my unmarried initials ‘LL’ can both be found in this title. I’m possibly even more excited to read this one than What If It’s Us. All great books but this is one I’ve owned for so long with the knowledge it’s going to be a 5 star read & that once I read it I won’t be able to experience it for the first time again…anyone else do this? procrastinate with nooks you know will be your next obsession? 😩😂

🌟Bonus🌟  MC is a Cuban bi-sexual woman which makes this one perfect for Latinx (I sure did change it to be more inclusive) Heritage Month (9/15/2018-10/15/2018)

Read a contemporary from a new to you author  Flight or Fight by Samantha Young which I’ll be buddy reading with Melanie from Meltotheany (we’re also BR The Proposal). I admittedly don’t know much about this one other than it’s a cute hate to love contemporary everyone has been buzzing about. This will be my first Samantha Young read & I’m hoping to find a new fave author 🖤

Read a contemporary that is a 5 star prediction  Pride by Ibi Zoboi is one I’ve been highly anticipating! After reading American Street & the short story written by Ibi Zoboi in the YA anthology Meet Cute, I can’t help but want to read everything this author writes. The fact that it takes place in my home city of Brooklyn & that it’s a Pride & Prejudice REMIX (not a retelling 😂) has me HYPED!

🌟Bonus🌟  The MC Zuri Benitez is Afro-Latina….we don’t have no where near enough Afro-Latinx MC’s in our books, so happy to be reading this one for Latinx (I sure did change it to be more inclusive) Heritage Month (9/15/2018-10/15/2018) 🖤


Contemporary-A-Thon takes place from 9/17-9/23, all info to participate can also be found in the Booktube channels listed above. If you are participating in the readathon or just happen to have ready any of the titles I’ll be reading, drop me some luv in the comments down below 🖤


FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS ON…

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBook

 

 

May Book Haul

Hello Bookworms! a part of me wanted to believe I could abstain from buying or collecting books in any shape or form in May… what with BEA/Bookcon right around the corner first week of June SMH. Things didn’t quite pan out that way & May ended up being the month of book mail/approvals every other day. This isn’t the norm around these parts haha! but nonetheless I rolled with it & also finally purged my shelves of some books to make space for new stories…

The Poppy War | CIRCE | A Court Of Frost and Starlight | FURYBORN | To Kill A Kingdom | Girls’ Night Out

*Both FURYBORN & To Kill A Kingdom were 5 star reads, so happy to have them on my shelves! Girls’ Night Out is the only physical arc I received in May, super excited for this one since the thriller/suspense bug has finally bitten me 🙂

The Hating Game | The Astonishing Color Of After | Filthy Gods | OPAL | Ramona Blue

*Here’s where I started justifying my purchases smh…I have physical copies of Astonishing Color & Hating Game but I just couldn’t resist a good Kindle deal ($1.99) & said why not?!?  

No words…well maybe a few 😂 I can honestly say I’m excited over each & every one of these titles. I’ve already rated Bruja Born 5 EPIC stars!!! Scream All Night is not a book I’d gravitate towards cause spooky and I don’t mix. However, the publisher reached out after reading my review of The Dangerous Art Of Blending In & sold me on this book! Both What If It’s  Us & Blanca Y Roja are on my HIGHLY anticipated list. Adam Silvera & Anna-Marie McLemore are two of my FAVORITE YA authors, ANYTHING they write is a MUST read for this Bookworm! 💜

FAIRYLOOT

For more Bookish photos, click on the photo to follow LairOfBooks on Bookstagram

ONYX & IVORY BY MINDEE ARNETT

    

Sprayed edges is almost always a win for me but Onyx & Ivory is one of those book I’ve really been looking forward to. This box was a slam dunk! from the beautiful book sleeve to the practical lip scrub I had heart eyes while unboxing 😍 the art print is STUNNING & I’m already using the page flags 💜 my least favorite item is perhaps the tea once again 🤷🏻‍♀️😂

BOOK OF THE MONTH

For more Bookish photos, click on the photo to follow LairOfBooks on Bookstagram

THE PERFECT MOTHER BY AIMEE MOLLOY 


I hope you’re all having a wonderful day while squeezing in a good read or two along the way! 💜 if you’ve read any of the books I’ve posted here & think I should boost up on my TBR, drop a comment down below 💜


FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS ON…

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBook