The Friday 56: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“It’s not like they can expel the entire class,” Kitay said. “I bet he’s testing us. Seeing if we really want to learn.”

“Or testing us to see how we’ll react around illegal drugs!” Venka shrilled.

“Oh, calm down,” Rin said. “You can’t get high just by touching it.”

Hello, it’s been a while since I posted a Friday 56, but I am hoping to join this meme again on a more regular basis. If I could described R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War in one word it would be intense. This 56 is a far cry from where all these characters end up at the end of the novel. This series has been one of the most heart-wrenching fantasies I’ve ever read. I’m both excited and scared for the final book. Check out my review for this one here. My review for the second book will be going up this weekend. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.
      When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
      But surprises aren’t always good.
      Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
      Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late. “

The Friday 56: The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

Her eyes landed on the ledger he’d been scribbling in. “She’s kept you busy, at least?”

“‘Busy’ is a word for it.” He slammed the ledger shut. “I’m working for one of the Empire’s most wanted criminals, and she’s got me doing her taxes.”

This week I am sharing an excerpt from my current read, The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang, sequel to The Poppy War. I just started this series this year and was blown away by the first novel. I am continually impressed by the sheer magnitude of the story and how the author has handle the topic of war in both books. Update: I just finished this book and it was emotionally devastating. This is my ghost typing. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “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.

The Friday 56: Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“I felt weak because I hadn’t eaten or slept in almost twenty-four hours. The road was narrow and wound around sharp turns as we edged closer to my town. My father whispered to me that the driver had had a few drinks on the way. I wrapped my thin jacket around my head, mostly because I was cold, but also because I wanted to scream.”

I just finished Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s memoir, Children of the Land, and am still gathering my thoughts, but this one was incredibly moving and heartbreaking. I immediately added his poetry collection to my TBR because I am hungry for more of his writing. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “This unforgettable memoir from a prize-winning poet about growing up undocumented in the United States recounts the sorrows and joys of a family torn apart by draconian policies and chronicles one young man’s attempt to build a future in a nation that denies his existence.
      ‘You were not a ghost even though an entire country was scared of you. No one in this story was a ghost. This was not a story.’
      When Marcelo Hernandez Castillo was five years old and his family was preparing to cross the border between Mexico and the United States, he suffered temporary, stress-induced blindness. Castillo regained his vision, but quickly understood that he had to move into a threshold of invisibility before settling in California with his parents and siblings. Thus began a new life of hiding in plain sight and of paying extraordinarily careful attention at all times for fear of being truly seen. Before Castillo was one of the most celebrated poets of a generation, he was a boy who perfected his English in the hopes that he might never seem extraordinary.
      With beauty, grace, and honesty, Castillo recounts his and his family’s encounters with a system that treats them as criminals for seeking safe, ordinary lives. He writes of the Sunday afternoon when he opened the door to an ICE officer who had one hand on his holster, of the hours he spent making a fake social security card so that he could work to support his family, of his father’s deportation and the decade that he spent waiting to return to his wife and children only to be denied reentry, and of his mother’s heartbreaking decision to leave her children and grandchildren so that she could be reunited with her estranged husband and retire from a life of hard labor.
      Children of the Land distills the trauma of displacement, illuminates the human lives behind the headlines and serves as a stunning meditation on what it means to be a man and a citizen.”

The Friday 56: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“Alice’s inability to say ‘being asexual’ plagued her. The words formed but lodged themselves in her throat. One night she had stood in front of the mirror repeating, ‘I’m asexual,’ over and over again. She had thought that if she could get used to hearing it, she’d accept it as truth faster. Alice knew it had made sense. She could check off all the boxes. But she wasn’t sure it was a title that she had necessarily wanted everyone else to know.”

Today I am sharing an excerpt from Claire Kann’s debut, Let’s Talk About Love. Alice is a Black college student who is asexual and has to navigate different relationships when she isn’t always comfortable sharing this part of who she is with others. I’m about half way through and am loving Alice and experiencing all kinds of second-hand embarrassment. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
      But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
      When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated–or understood.
      Claire Kann’s young adult debut novel Let’s Talk About Love, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, gracefully explores the struggle with emerging adulthood and the complicated line between friendship and what it might mean to be something more.”