Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (5/24/22) – A Magic Steeped in Poison

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I saw A Magic Steeped in Poison pop up on several blogs I follow whenever it first came out, and I figured I’d give it a go; I’ve become slightly jaded with a lot of YA fantasy by this point, but I was intrigued by the unique concept of tea magic that this novel promised. I bought it the other day, and I just recently finished it—lush and immersive, with a world that I loved getting lost in.

Enjoy this week’s review!

A Magic Steeped in Poison (The Book of Tea, #1) – Judy I. Lin

In Ning’s world, tea is everything. The shennong-shi—masters of the art of tea-making—are revered in her society, known for conjuring magic and omens through their tea.

After an incident with poisoned tea kills Ning’s mother and incapacitates her sister, she turns to the only option to save her family. In the imperial city, there is a competition to find the most worthy shennong-shi in the kingdom; the winner earns the favor of the princess. Knowing that it may be the only way to save her sister, Ning ventures into the city, but what waits for her there may be more than she bargained for.

TW/CW: poisoning, loss of loved ones, violence, murder, animal cruelty

my brain can’t decide between “Tea” by Jim Noir or “Have a Cuppa Tea” by The Kinks as my internal soundtrack for this…a little help here?

As a reader, I’ve started to grow tired of some many of the beats that most YA fantasies follow—chosen ones, love triangles, and not much “fantasy” other than a basic magic system. I’m glad to say that A Magic Steeped in Poison was a breath of fresh air in that department, filled with lush prose and steeped (no pun intended) in Chinese culture and mythology!

First off, can we all take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this cover is? WOW. Seriously still in awe of how gorgeous it is. DANG. That is ART right there.

now, back to our scheduled program…

What immediately stands out about A Magic Steeped in Poison is Judy I. Lin’s prose. Like the brewing tea that shows up in so much of the book, it’s lush and immersive, filled with all sorts of sensory details that make the world feel all the more fleshed out. Lin’s writing makes it easy to picture the world that she’s created, from Ning’s rural home province to the luxury of the Imperial City. I could smell the tea, feel rain on my skin, and sense the tension that hung in the air during the shennong-shi competition.

I didn’t get overly attached to any of the characters, but Ning worked as the perfect kind of protagonist for A Magic Steeped in Poison; her determination, her hard-working spirit, and her devotion to her craft and family made her just the kind of protagonist to root for. For me, most of the other secondary characters weren’t as fleshed out, but I did like Lian as a secondary character, and the budding romance between Ning and Kang was totally sweet 🥺 (more of that!!! please!!!) I wanted more from these characters, but as a baseline, they were still good to work with.

However, I will say that the plot felt disorganized at worst. Amidst the main plot of the shennong-shi competition, there were a lot of secondary threads that only lasted a few chapters. Their resolutions were often very rushed, and I found myself wondering whether or not they were really relevant to the plot in the end. It felt a bit like an unfinished tapestry; the main picture was all there, but all of the loose, fraying threads at the edges made it almost look sloppy.

All in all, a refreshing fantasy that engaged all of my senses with ease. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

A Magic Steeped in Poison is Judy I. Lin’s debut, and the first book in the Book of Tea duology. Its sequel, A Venom Dark and Sweet, is slated for release this August.

Today’s song:

GOOD GOD this is SUCH A FANTASTIC ALBUM UGH

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (11/24/20)–I love this part

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since I read and adored On a Sunbeam back in August, I’ve had all the Tillie Walden I can get my hands on put on my holds or for later shelf at the library. I figured I needed some more Walden in my life for Thanksgiving Break, so I checked this one out. Even though it only clocks in at about 68 pages, I love this part is filled with so much raw emotion and heart.

Enjoy this week’s review!

I Love This Part: Hardcover Edition: Walden, Tillie: 9781910395325:  Amazon.com: Books

I love this part–Tillie Walden

my library copy, ft. an interesting filter and some gingerbread tea ☕️

Two girls, unnamed in a rural town, realize that they have a shared love of music. They gravitate towards each other, and slowly but surely, their friendship develops into something more. But when their relationship begins to crack, they drift apart–but it may be the thing that brought them together that might mend their relationship once more.

In Review: I Love This Part by Tillie Walden – downthetubes.net
art by Tillie Walden. This quote hit me really hard.

Now that I’ve read four of Walden’s graphic novels, I can say with certainty that there hasn’t been a single miss in her catalogue so far. I love this part is no exception–it’s not every day that so much authentic love and emotion can fit perfectly in the span of only 68 pages.

Walden’s art is always stunning; normally, I usually don’t gravitate towards styles that are more simplistic, but she proves time and again that facial detail isn’t always necessary to convey a wide range of emotion. Her use of color was what stood out to me most in I love this part. Most of the graphic novel is rendered in black and white, but splashed with purple. What stood out about it, though, was that the purple was almost symbolic; in the times that the girls were in love, the purple was present, and when they fell out of love, it disappeared, fading to black and white. But even in the black and white panels, there were still hints of purple, if you looked closely–hinting their love never truly died.

Beyond that, I love this part maps out every aspect of falling in love–the joy, the fear, the heartbreak, the yearning. It’s the kind of book that makes you mourn relationships you’ve never even had, but in the best way possible. It’s raw, it’s honest, and it’s vulnerable, but it also brims with hope and love. And at the center of it all, to have a multiracial, sapphic couple in the starring roles? True beauty.

My only complaint? It was too short.

All in all, a triumphant and vulnerable tale of queer joy, love, and heartbreak that resonated on levels that I didn’t even know were possible. Five stars!

I Love This Part” – Multiversity Comics

I love this part is a standalone, but Tillie Walden has several other graphic novels out, including On a Sunbeam, Are You Listening?, A City Inside, The End of Summer, and her graphic memoir, Spinning.

Today’s song:

“Pink Lemonade”–Jim Noir (Bandcamp link)

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!