Whatever 2020 looked like for you, and wherever you find yourself at the wee dawn of this new year, I hope you’ve found some warmth and comfort in the little places in your life. It’s been a terrible few months all around, so I hope (and Sprout hopes!) that you’ve been treating yourself gently too.
Amidst a lot of personal turbulence in the past year (between online college and some bad mental health days), fiction was a constant that I returned to over and over again whenever I needed grounding—the stories I experienced were both escape portals and anchors in my day-to-day life. It is perhaps no surprise that I ended up reading double the amount of books I set out to read in my 2020 Goodreads goal; the achievement feels a little bittersweet, but it’s a victory nonetheless! It brings me a lot of joy today to be rounding up all of my favorite books that I read this strange, strange year, and I hope they bring you some solace too.
An unstoppable love between two girls—one human, one Made—both set on destroying the Iron Heart.
For too long the cruel, beautiful Automae have lorded over the kingdom of Rabu, oppressing the humans who live there. But the human revolution is on the rise, and at its heart is Ayla. Once handmaiden, now fugitive, Ayla escaped the palace of Lady Crier, the girl Ayla had planned to kill… but instead fell in love with. Now Ayla has pledged her allegiance to Queen Junn, whom she believes can accomplish the ultimate goal of the human rebellion: destroy the Iron Heart. Without it, the Automae will be weakened to the point of extinction.
But playing at Ayla’s memory are the powerful feelings she developed for Crier. And unbeknownst to her, Crier has also fled the palace, taking up among travelling rebels, determined to find and protect Ayla.
As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.
In this stunning sequel to acclaimed author Nina Varela’s Crier’s War, the love that launched a revolution must now pave the way for a whole new era… and the ultimate change of heart.
Oh this book wrecked me, friends.
Sequels are tricky to do right — I’ve read one too many disappointing follow-up books in my time — but I’m delighted to report that this book was everything I had hoped for in a sequel to one of my favorite books of 2019.Reading this book felt like diving headfirst into a half-forgotten world that grew ever-familiar by the page, felt like a rush of warmth. By the end of the book, I’d fallen fully in love with Nina’s writing once again, as well as the characters that struggled and fought and loved within the pages of the story. I’m very excited to share this review with you all today, as well as a short fanart comic I made of my absolute favorite quote from the book!
Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
In the discussions that you would have seen across our Pride Month posts, you would have read how queer spaces can be precarious and fraught for queer people of colour. As evidenced by the gatekeeping by, typically, white queers and the oversight on the nuances that come with how queerness can intersect with identities, giving rise to a diversity of complex experiences, we still have far to go. Read More »