This post took way longer to write up than I expected! Although the title says “Top Five,” I actually have seven books listed. It was very, very difficult to pick just five when I have a long list of books I absolutely need to get to!
A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.
First of all, THAT cover! There is something about it that screams my name. Second of all, a wedding celebration at a haunted house? I can’t wait to read the kind of disaster that decisions brings. I’m new to exploring horror books, so
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.
When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.
To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.
I have been exploring science fiction more these past months. Naturally, I was drawn to Iron Widow’s comparison to The Handmaid’s Tale and Pacific Rim. I’m yet to watch the latter but I think Neon Genesis Evangelion type mechas and I’m in!
Sistersong by Lucy Holland
535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.
Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.
All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.
Sistersong by Lucy Holland is a book about three siblings set in Ancient Britain. I have not read any of Madeline Miller’s books but do you know the feeling you get when you haven’t read an author’s but you’re so so sure you’re going to love it? That’s how I feel about Madeline Miller, and now, Sistersong. I also believe that the book has a trans main character.
I’m embarrassed, still, by how long it took me to notice. Everything was right there in the open, right there in front of me, but it still took me so long to see the person I had married.
It took me so long to hate him.
Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be.
And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband.
Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and both Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up.
Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty.
I have been drawn to crime thrillers with a touch of science fiction. I absolutely love the blend of the two, despite having only read very few in the genre. From the blurb, it seems like The Echo Wife is a domestic thriller featuring a woman in STEM.
The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.
Firstly, I love how the new cover for The Bone Shard Emperor contrasts its predecessor. The Bone Shard Daughter didn’t quite leave us on a cliff-hanger but there were certain plot-lines that I am terribly eager to find out more about. Also, I miss Mephi.
Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.
Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.
But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.
Look, would this really be a list of hyped books without The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri? Any time a fantasy book with Indian main characters is published, you best believe, I am after it. Add in a bucket load of sapphic content and I am committed.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
I really love reading books inspired by Mulan. She Who Became the Sun has been sitting high on my TBR ever since I heard of it. This book was also compared to The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller which got me interested. But what really got me was knowing this book is a reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty. I enjoy reading fantasy books that are reimagining of history likeThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.