The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng | Review // Summing up how this book destroyed me!

Greetings readers!

This review has been sitting in my drafts for MONTHS and it is now finally getting its time to shine.

Let’s just say that I had so many things to say about this book, but I never could find the right way to say anything. Go figure. Nonetheless, I found myself wanted to express my thoughts and the time has come to share it with you all!

So bear with me as I chaotically tell you all about how AMAZING THIS BOOK IS and why you must read it!!

Many thanks to HBG Canada for providing me with a review copy!

The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso

The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #3)

Pub Date: May 4th, 2021
Publisher: Orbit Books

The stunning finale to the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy where the queen of a divided land must unite her people against the enemies who threaten to tear her country apart. K. S. Villoso is a “powerful new voice in fantasy.” (Kameron Hurley)

Queen Talyien is finally home, but dangers she never imagined await her in the shadowed halls of her father’s castle.

War is on the horizon. Her son has been stolen from her, her warlords despise her, and across the sea, a cursed prince threatens her nation with invasion in order to win her hand.

Worse yet, her father’s ancient secrets are dangerous enough to bring Jin Sayeng to ruin. Dark magic tears rifts in the sky, preparing to rain down madness, chaos, and the possibility of setting her nation aflame.

Bearing the brunt of the past and uncertain about her future, Talyien will need to decide between fleeing her shadows or embracing them before the whole world becomes an inferno.


THE REVELATIONS HAD ME FEELING SOME TYPE OF WAY

Scene Stealers: Charlie Day in Pacific Rim - One Room With A View

The first half of this book is just discovery after discovery. Revelation after revelation. I was so shook. Secrets from past books are no longer secret which means that all of Yeshin’s ploys he had set beyond the grave get uncovered. In a way we sort of get into his head and wow what a place to be. Honestly, it was a perfect way to plot an intense and incredibly suspenseful book! Trying to connect all the dots of every ploy and scheme in this book really had me feeling like this ^.

And the aftermath of all these revelations is bloody. Uncovering these secrets comes with hard decisions and sacrifice that honestly leaves the pages drenched in blood.

THESE INCREDIBLE CHARACTERS ARE THE HEART AND SOUL OF THIS SERIES.

Drunk Hot Mess GIF by Loryn Powell

If you like messy human beings, then you need to read this book.

Tali: I just *scrunches up face* I just love her. The messiest of all queens, she is simply a phenomenal character. In my review of book 2, I asked if Tali will ever see herself as more than Yeshin’s daughter and my oh my I got my answer. This entire book was here to give me an answer and WOW Tali’s reckoning with her identity, her reputation and her father’s ghost all came to push every one of Tali’s boundaries.

Khine: Literal messy perfection takes form in Khine Lamang. I said, what I said. I dubbed him my forever man. Forever haunted by the mistakes of his past. Forever dedicated to the people that he chooses to care for. And forever the most resourceful character in this book. A brilliant man, yes I love him.

Rai: So this book asked me to have a little empathy with Rai and ugh I think it worked!!! Don’t get me wrong I still detested this man for 85% of this book. He can be a real despicable mess BUT I must say there is an intense 15% where I feared for Rai and felt his every emotion. I can only attest this to the brilliant writer that is Villoso.

And I’m just going to say it – no character is unimportant in this book. Not even the ones you think are just passing by. Everyone had a role in this story, they all legitimately had a purpose and gosh darn it I was IMPRESSED.

And on that note I would just like to add that the stars of this show were WOMEN!

Image about quotes in Memes by ūüĆôzahra on We Heart It

Every woman in this story was simply iconic in their own unique way! Did I love them all? Absolutely not! But that’s not the point, is it? The point is that these women were chaos-makers, revenge-seekers, and power-wielders. They were ambitious and fiery and passionate. Don’t even get me started on the different tiers of mother-daughter relationships because I will literally turn into a MESS. To keep it simple: Keep an eye on all the ladies of this story. Whether you love them or hate them, they are the game changers in this book!

THE NARRATION WILL FOREVER BE THE MOST ICONIC ASPECT OF THIS BOOK SERIES

Sad Ded GIF

Tali writing down her own story will always put me in my feels. Finding out why she started writing and WHO pushed her to start writing will forever have me on the FLOOR IN TEARS. This novel reminds us that history books have a way of blurring what actually happened, of missing important details and of painting figures, especially women, in certain ways that give into misogynistic traditions. So taking it upon herself to write her story, to tell us about her life as she lived and experienced it will forever be the most iconic move she (really Villoso) made. I just loved it.

WE GOT MORE MAGIC AND DRAGONS AND GHOULISH CREATURES.

smaug the terrible GIF

If I thought book 2 was chock full of magical beings, this book upped the ante by like five levels! This final installment gets us closer to this mysterious agan that has been so far in the periphery of the story. With this third book, we get to dive deep into the lore of this magic and find out how it is connected to dragons, the land and the people. And you’d think that the looming threat of a magical bomb would lull people out of their political squabbles, but no. Of course not, *See “Messy characters”* But this squabbling just made the book all the more intense and stressful to read which is exactly what I wanted to feel. I mean it’s a political plot in combination with a magic doom, plus a mad prince wreaking havoc, a son in hostage, people trying to kill the main character on every page and the knocking consequences of a long deceased father’s decisions IT’S A LOT! And I love it.

LOVE. DUTY. SACRIFICE.

Sad Doctor Who GIF

Three words that make up three major themes of this book. There is no singular meaning to any of these words, each means something unique to different characters. You can find these themes so closely woven into every corner of the story as characters are tested to find out how far people are willing to go to gain power, save a nation, find a loved one and even obey a long dead war lord. Shooketh to my very core doesn’t even begin to cover the sheer brilliance of the story. And all of this magnificence comes from Villoso’s excellent writing. Icon moves only!

IN SUMMARY

I love this book. I love this series. The detail and the emotion Villoso put into creating this world and characters is wonderfully evocative and gut wrenching. I’m so glad that we are getting more books in this world and more work from Villoso!!

Rating: 5/5 stars! ALL THE STARS!

Recommend: HELLS TO THE YES!!


Let me know what you think! Have you read this series yet? (If no, go do that now!) Are you excited for more books set in this world? Have you ever been at a loss for words when writing a review for a book you love?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

The Ikessar Falcon | Review // Literally here without an eloquent thought in my head, I’m just screaming! + My Fan Art

Greetings readers!

Here I am with another attempt at trying to explain how much I absolutely adored a book! This was my first read novel of the new year and AH it delivered. It delivered so hard my friends!

I can only hope my words make enough sense to tell you how much this book ROCKED MY FRICKIN WORLD.

If you haven’t read book one, I highly recommend dropping by my review of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro and as always beware of spoilers below!

The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso

The Ikessar Falcon (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #2)

Pub Date: Sept 22nd, 2020
Publisher: Orbit

The stunning sequel to The Wolf of Oren-yaro where the queen of a divided land struggles to unite her people. Even if they despise her. K. S. Villoso is a “powerful new voice in fantasy.” (Kameron Hurley)

The spiral to madness begins with a single push. Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worst as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined, one that will displace her king and see her son dead. The road home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and impossible horrors that unearth the nation’s true troubles – creatures from the dark, mad dragons, and men with hearts hungry for power. To save her land, Talyien must confront the myth others have built around her: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen, and everything she could never be. The price of failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.


*Thank you HBG Canada for the review copy!*

I LOVED EVERYTHING.

Villoso really knows how to write messy humans. And make it a good time. For me, that is. A good time for me.

Tali – I bow to the queen, but this does not mean that the queen makes good decisions. I love Tali with all my heart. I love that she is fighting twice as hard to find that peace she still thinks she can achieve. But I also see her flaws. She does wear her heart on her sleeve and it is constantly getting her into trouble. She may be ruler but she is still quite naive. She’s a queen, but her status as mother takes over in this book and I really liked this angle. Why wouldn’t a mother fight tooth and nail for her son she loves? But even in that fight there is some naivety. Tali is messy and makes mistakes which in my opinion makes her an INCREDIBLE CHARACTER. It means that she has room to grow, to change, to mess up again and repeat the process! I think a lot of reader’s will be put off by some of the choices she makes (I was too) but, nonetheless, her desire to see things through makes me admire her all the more! And I can’t wait to see if she will ever consider herself more than Yeshin’s daughter? Will she break free of this dead man’s grip? I don’t know, I’m excited to find out.

Queen GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
via giphy.com

Khine – Sweetie, you are doing amazing. My heart aches for one man in this series and it is KHINE LAMANG. He is resourceful, he knows how to make a plan, he has medical experience, he can make a friend out of an enemy, he will tell you as it is, HE IS SIMPLY THE BEST. he was thrown into this political, violent mess and he endures time after time. We love to see it. BUT WE ARE ALSO VERY AFRAID FOR HIS WELL-BEING. OMG but seriously the best character in this series. It goes Khine then Tali. Khine is #1! Never forget.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians Youre Doing Amazing Sweetie GIF by  PeacockTV - Find & Share on GIPHY
via giphy.com

Agos – I don’t know. I sat there after closing the book (whilst reeling) trying to understand my emotions towards this character and all I can is that they are quite complex and not at the same time. Agos is far more fleshed out and present in this book than in the first one. We see first hand how far he goes for Tali and how much his position as her servant, her guard, makes him both a man with less power and yet one who still feels himself entitled to some anyways. Not sure that makes sense, I’m still working him out. There is this reoccurring imagery of Agos as Tali’s dog, obedient to her every beck and call. But can there also be a point where the dog overpowers the chain and drags the master? *shrugs suggestively* This is not say Agos is some poor chap caught up in this mess like Khine. No, no, no, Agos is a hypocrite, overbearing and possessive which is why I can’t say I like him very much even though he spat some truths here and there.

Rayyel – I definitely see how we were supposed to empathize with this man, but the note I wrote to myself in the middle of the night right after closing the book is this: “Rayyel – useless ass mofo. I still hate you.” Which is a little unfair because he isn’t totally useless and again I’m coming from a very biased POV. He is 100% still a bitch (not the cool kind) and yeah I don’t like him, but I can’t deny he isn’t as conniving as I once thought.

So this a chunky book because we go exploring friends. WHO DOESN’T LOVE A GOOD QUEST NARRATIVE?! Thank goodness for the map because I loved tracking where our characters travelled too! I loved that we got to explore Jin-Sayeng in much more depth. I loved that we got to see the differences between the east and west! But buckle buds, because it is a long and winding road we travel!

Adventure Going GIF
via giphy.com

This book is all about the political intrigue! It’s about the divide of a nation no longer split in two, but in absolute shambles. I love that Villoso wove in so many opposing views and voices within a single part of the nation to emphasize just how shattered ties between countrymen are. I also loved that we got to break down the class system! I loved how privilege and poverty, power and oppression were dissected within the characters from their blood down to the very structure of their names! Who gets caught in the cross-hairs of warring aristocrats? How much power is held within a name and title? Can one life replace another? These are the questions that seep through the story, the haunting words that follow Tali as she comes to terms with her own privilege and persecution.

Fantasy elements? You name it, this book has it. Assassins, zombie-like things, DRAGONS, DRAGON FIGHTS, creatures of the dark, gore, blood blood blood. And this only adds to THE INTENSITY OF THIS NOVEL. People this book is so INTENSE. There was literally no break. Twist after twist. Turn after turn. THE BETRAYALS. I, for one, LOVED IT. I loved that I couldn’t catch my breath, I was so invested in this story, so eager to find out what happened next! It’s a suffering fest and I loved it.

once upon a time dragon GIF by HULU
via giphy.com

I can’t even talk about the romance plot because it is so much more complex than I could ever put into proper words that make sense without spoiling anything. On the one hand, it is an element of the story that has sparked so much of the fire that is going on in this story and on the other hand it can be so insignificant because of the even bigger, hotter fires burning around the characters! It is truly just a wonderful level of complex drama that I lived for while reading. So, so much tea was spilled.

The best, absolute best, element of this series is the narration style. I love that future Tali is telling us this story. I love that she is talking to us, the readers. Feeding us her version of the events of her life and nation. Telling us what happens…and holding back on certain details, perhaps? It was subtle in book one, but this book really plays with this idea of what Tali is telling us and what actually happens to her, what she thought then and what she thinks now. I try so hard to read between the lines and I am sad to say I have not yet found the HEA I am looking for *sobs*

So the ending, specifically the last 20 pages, HAD ME ON THE FLOOR. I saw things coming and yet…I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT SEE THOSE THINGS COMING! It was a whirlwind of emotions at the end. So many things go down…and not very happy things *sobs some more* But gosh Villoso really pushed in the knife sheath-deep with this end. The blade had been hovering over me the entire time, inching in little by little, but these last pages were the final painful stab.

Tired King Of Queens GIF by TV Land
via giphy.com

I loved it.

People will critique the book for being too long, but it was such an adventure. You have to accept it and bask in its length.

Final words: K.S. Villoso has brought down the hammer with another incredible installment of this epic fantasy series! If you want to dive into a captivating world of shady politics, fiery dragons, raw, messy characters and tantalizing revelations, then this pulse-pounding page-turner is for YOU. I cannot wait for book 3, we are in for so much trouble!!!!!!!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES. You all need to get on this series LIKE NOW!


My Fan Art

To commemorate my love for the series, I made a painting of one of my favourite scenes from book 1! If you guys want to find out why Tali is looking fierce in the rain, I suggest you read the books!

Let me know what you think! What fantasy series are you loving these days? Any recommendations for dragon-y stories? Do you have this sequel on your TBR?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Tune & Title Tuesdays | Celebrating a cover reveal that had me feeling all kinds of emotions!

Greetings readers!

Yesterday, while I was in the midst of writing a test a very beautiful cover was revealed to the world and we were truly blessed.

And since I love the first book so much and want everyone out there to read this series, I’m highlighting it today!

Tune: Empires – Ruelle

I heard this song in a sports commercial. Yes, a sports commercial. And surpringly enough it wasn’t too hard to google XD That being said, once I found the song I went down a Ruelle rabbit hole and found a couple other songs I liked by her too. It’s one of those songs that you can make up a cool scenario to in your head, you know what I mean? I’m sure you’ve seen the meme XD It’s that epic kind of music that you can’t help but listen to and imagine it playing in the trailer of a really big movie!

Title: Chronicles of a Bitch Queen by K.S. Villoso

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #1) The Ikessar Falcon (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #2)

The reason I paired this song with these books is very simple. Empires rise and fall in both. No but, seriously this song could play in the trailer for this book to movie adaptation and I would eat it up. I would eat it up regardless, but you all know what I mean. The song really captures one of the main themes of this book, but there is so much goodness to enjoy in this series! It offers so much: political intrigue, family DRAMA, dynamic and driven characters, twists and turns, revelations, incredible action scenes and more! It was AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER. I’ll leave my review for The Wolf of Oren-Yaro linked here because it just explains my thoughts better than I could now hehehe

And now the cover for book 2 is out and people!!! My heart flipped when I saw it! It flipped! I LOVE IT. I LOVE IT. I LOVE IT. Look at my glorious Queen Tali brandishing her sword, poised and ready for battle. The figure behind her?? *Is a little bitch* A good-looking one, but a little bitch nonetheless. I said what I said. Read the book to know more!


Let me know what you think! What song would you choose to play in the trailer of your life movie? Have you read this book yet?!! How glorious are these covers!?!

*Link to the master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter movements and to know more about the JunkTerrorBill in the Philippines*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro | Review // THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!

Greetings readers!

When I first stumbled upon the announcement for this book, I wasn’t really paying that much attention to what the actual announcement said, I was just happily clicking “Add to TBR”.

So when I saw that the publisher had ARCs available, I reread the synopsis and realized that this book had a lot of promise. I haven’t read an epic, high fantasy in a long time and I was interested the Filipino-inspired world that it promised. Plus the author is based in Vancouver…so this is also Canadian-authored fantasy and we all know I gobble that up.

Stupidly, I started reading before a tense week of uni, so I read very sporadically and in short bursts until the weekend came around I swallowed chunks of this book!

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Feb 18th, 2020
Publisher: Orbit Books
Goodreads

A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.

I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.

But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.


*ARC provided by HBG Canada*

I LOVED EVERYTHING.

I AM NOT KIDDING WHEN I SAY THAT I LOVED ABSOLUTELY EVERY MOMENT OF READING THIS BOOK.

Lets start with these characters. It was sold to me as a character-driven novel and it delivered in every single way imaginable.

Tali, how do I even begin to express my love for her? She was such a witty, snarky and naive character who was just trying to do her best. *sobs* I mean, was she flawed? Absolutely. And I am not talking about the reputation that follows her around because her father was a total mass murderer. I mean that’s part of it, but Tali makes some not so great decisions, and she goes to lots of ends to cover them up. But she is also such an incredible voice. She is a woman in power whose husband has abandoned her, whose rule is constantly questioned and challenged by her countrymen, whose life is always in danger and all she just wants the peace that her birth, marriage and reign promised. She goes from being a feared queen to an unknown, left to the mercy of the streets. It’s a wild journey, and if I am honest, it gave her some much needed perspective. She is physically strong, raised to be a fighter but her emotional strength is definitely not up to par. It is tested and hinders her every step of the way. It was really amazing to read about because my gal struggles reading people’s intentions sometimes. Really, everything about her journey was so incredible to read about. I love her.

Khine. MY SON. WHO IS TECHNICALLY OLDER THAN ME, BUT STILL, MY CHILD. I love him. He was a conman with a heart of gold and honestly really dumb sometimes, but he is a cinnamon roll who must be protected at all times. Basically where he kind of lacked that physical strength, he was better at handling the emotions of others. He was a wonderful foil to Tali, without being too preachy and stiff. Ugh, I LOVE HIM!

Rayyel…I fucking hated this mans guts. I HATED HIM. You all do not understand how much I DETEST this little bitch. *Take a deep breath, Rendz* *Inhales, exhales* He was just a despicable character who was so central to this plot. He is not even a true antagonist. He is just that fucking despicable. I loved to hate him.

Others…gosh there are so many incredible characters in this story. There was complexity and diversity, there were some heroics and some villainous works going on with these side characters. They added to the richness of the tale and kept me entertained every step of the way.

This world was FASCINATING. Sadly, my ARC didn’t have the map with it, but I didn’t feel lost without it. Villoso does a great job of exploring the divisions of these nations, the history of the relationships between these peoples. Jin-Sayeng was such a complex place with the rival Oren-Yaro and Ikessar clans fighting for power. I also loved that we got to see the workings of the neighbouring empire that has lots of power, but poses a lot of dangers. There is so much to explore as Tali roams the streets of the empire. It’s dangerous, it’s comforting, but it’s mostly reallllyyyy dangerous.

The plot was wonderfully layered and laid out. There is the main present plot line which was all high stakes and constant suspense, then there were the snippets of the past that come in and play with your knowledge of what is actually happening. The best part of this whole story is that there is always a missing piece of information, there is always some secret that is being kept from the reader that makes you question what the heck is actually going on. AND WHEN YOU GET TO THE LAST 50 PAGES, EVERYTHING REALLY STARTS TO CLICK. SHIT GETS REVEALED AND I WAS LOSING IT!!!!

This book is also an EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER. Tali goes through so much shit and geez we have to experience it with her and it was possibly the best part of this novel. I felt so many things while reading this. Mostly I felt rage like Tali. Rage at the world. Rage at Rayyel. Rage at the fact that I have to wait for sequel! But there was also small moments that were heartwarming, lots of moments of despair and tension. THE SUSPENSE was killer! I couldn’t turn the page fast enough!

I CAN’T EVEN EXPLAIN TO YOU HOW MUCH THE ENDING TOTALLY MESSED ME UP. I was shooketh to my very core and I couldn’t be too loud about my freak out because it was close to midnight. IT WAS JAW-DROPPING GOOD. I mean I had inklings, but I doubted and then everything was revealed and AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

After reading, I was left breathless. I was so exhilarated that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself so I just sat on my bed and smiled like a fool. It was a euphoria that I hadn’t felt in AGES. I am so completely in love with this story and its characters (except Rei!).

There is no questionable section because I cannot for the life of me find one single thing to critique. It was perfect for me. Completely and utterly perfect.


Overall, I loved everything about this book. Thrilling. Suspenseful. Addicting. Action packed. This is a high fantasy that you cannot miss! It was incredible!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars 

Recommend?: ABSOLUTELY YES.

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading this? What are some of your favourite character-driven stories? What was the last book that made you feel euphoric? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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