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wow thank goodness this is a standalone, because i dont know if my heart will ever recover from that ending i randomly picked this up at the library because 1 i saw it on a recent GR list and 2 the font was big, meaning i could speed read through it and if i didnt like it, no real time wasted so imagine my surprise when i found myself taking my time with this, soaking up every word because this story felt like a gift one i didnt want to take for granted.this story was rich with histori wow thank goodness this is a standalone, because i dont know if my heart will ever recover from that ending i randomly picked this up at the library because 1 i saw it on a recent GR list and 2 the font was big, meaning i could speed read through it and if i didnt like it, no real time wasted so imagine my surprise when i found myself taking my time with this, soaking up every word because this story felt like a gift one i didnt want to take for granted.this story was rich with historical intricacies, lush in its writing, humbling with tender romance, and clever in its unfolding this book really impacted me on an intellectual, emotional and entertainment level i cant believe how sad i felt when the story came to an end, and i think that is the true sign of a great book just the overall high quality of this book made me so impressed that it was a debut.this is perfect for those who are fans of renee ahdieh and roshani chokshi meaning its on par with todays popular ya fantasy writers i cant wait to see what this author comes up with next 4.5 stars 3.5 stars.This is a retelling of Turandot.An opera, ladies and gentlemen That s a first for me I read retellings of fairytales often enough to consider it one of my favourite genres, but I admit I know nothing about operas But that s okay You can still understand the story perfectly And I did It really isn t that complicated The setting is original and the culture different, but it comes down to kings kahns fighting for power and a certain prince who wants to save his and his father 3.5 stars.This is a retelling of Turandot.An opera, ladies and gentlemen That s a first for me I read retellings of fairytales often enough to consider it one of my favourite genres, but I admit I know nothing about operas But that s okay You can still understand the story perfectly And I did It really isn t that complicated The setting is original and the culture different, but it comes down to kings kahns fighting for power and a certain prince who wants to save his and his father s kingdom by taking part in the riddles competition to gain the hand of a powerful princess Slave girls who get rescued by boys who become their love interest is nothing new, but I simply adored the author s writing, 1st person POV choice and dimensionality of the characters I went into it expecting the competition to be the main attraction, wrongly so The characters do think about it and, yes, it is part of the storyline, but this is about a slave girl Jinghua , a prince Khalaf and his father Timur who travel through cities, to find allies and escape enemies.It is beautifully told I especially enjoyed the interactions between Jinghua and Timur While she and the prince have lovely passages together, which lead to a slow burn romance, I am a sucker for love hate relationships Timur is a grumpy and authoritarian old man who hates the idea of keeping a slave girl who can t fight, but his opinion of her changes when he notices her intelligence and goodness.Jinghua is no Celaena Sardothien On the one hand, she has a great heart, ambition, and quite a lyrical way of viewing the world On the other hand, she has low self esteem, limited courage, and lets her heart cloud her judgment over and over again Also, she doesn t want to learn how to fight, thus making her a target in combat and heavy weight at times Jinghua may be the main character, but I refuse to believe that she is the hero of this story Prince Khalaf is She is hardly even a sidekick, mostly just there for the ride She never undergoes a character development, but she does make realizations about herself while helping Khalaf achieve his goals, which eventually become hers as well.A gripping and romantic story that is better than the majority of YA fantasy books that get published every year, so cheers to that Blog Youtube Twitter Instagram Google Bloglovin ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.Now, cold and exhausted, a girl disguised as a boy, tottering after the losing end of a battle, I have to second guess that assessment It seems to me that I ve made some choices some very bad choices that have led me to this momentThe Bird and the Blade is a completely enthralling and heart breaking YA fantasy debut I enjoyed this so much, and I was completely teleported and captivated every time I open ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.Now, cold and exhausted, a girl disguised as a boy, tottering after the losing end of a battle, I have to second guess that assessment It seems to me that I ve made some choices some very bad choices that have led me to this momentThe Bird and the Blade is a completely enthralling and heart breaking YA fantasy debut I enjoyed this so much, and I was completely teleported and captivated every time I opened this book up Plus, this is a story about the descendants of Genghis Khan s sons, mixed with the Italian opera Turandot, and that s one of the most unique concepts of any story I ve read in 2018 And this might not be the most historically accurate novel out there, but I loved reading about the Song dynasty and the Mongol Empire.Genghis Khan had four sons, who had trouble deciding who would rule after their father Well, this story centers around a prince from Jochi s blood line Jochi was the oldest of the sons, who ended up not being the ascended ruler, but still ended up being a great military leader, and his great, great grandson is no different That is, until his men are killed, and he and his ruling father are forced to go into hiding with a girl who has many secrets And I fell in so in love with that secret keeper Jinghua is now a companion to the Prince Khalaf and his father, Timur, but she was once a slave for the them and their entire family Khalaf always showed her kindness and during a split second decision, Jinghua goes into hiding with these two royal men And while traveling she teaches him many things from her culture, including the languageCruelty is easy to repay, my lord Kindness is another matterWhile they are traveling and hiding from their enemies throughout the Mongol Empire, they find out about the daughter of the Great Khan, Turandokht She is so desired among all the princes for her hand in marriage, she has set up a contest for every royal suitor, where they must answer three riddles correctly given to them by herself And if they answer any incorrectly, they will forfeit their lives Khalaf wants nothingthan to try his hand at the riddles to marry Turandokht and restore the glory of his people, or die an honorable death trying And this story is told from present time where we first see Jinghua witnessing Khalaf being told the first riddle that will decide if he dies or moves on to the second We are then teleported back in time, and we get all these puzzle pieces that slowly start to fit together From Jinghua and Khalaf before they were forced into exile, to Jinghua with her family before she became a slave, to Jinghua falling in love with Khalaf slowly but ever so surely And this beautiful story that is equal parts heart warming and heart wrenching slowly begins to take form This book puts the spotlight on a discussion about the beauty standards for women that we ve endured for all our pasts and still in our present day Like, how so many people feel like beauty is all that that women have to offer And how we will pit girls against one another and created all this ugly jealousy, when we should be using that energy to uplift and support and celebrate all womenHer beauty doesn t make you ugly Her intelligence doesn t make you stupid Her value doesn t make you worthlessOverall, this is the highest three star rating I ve ever given a three star book I loved this and was completely enthralled in the tale I just really disliked the ending, which I suppose if I knew about Turandot before going in, I would have been better prepared It completely broke me, and I know how beautiful it is when I take a step back and reflect upon it But, I just really didn t like it when I read it But this really is such an impressive debut, and I can t wait to see what Megan Bannen does next, because they created such a brilliant standalone that really impressed me Trigger and content warnings for slavery, kidnapping, heavy war themes, mention of rape, graphic deaths, graphic violence, torture, gore, loss of a loved one, and self harm Blog Instagram Twitter Tumblr Youtube Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.Buddy read with Diana This review and other non spoilery reviews can be found The Book PrescriptionGod does not judge you according to your appearance and your wealth, but He looks at your heart and looks into your deedsSo I haven t heard a lot about this book, I thought for a moment that it wasn t even out because it does not get the hype it deserves I saw Becky talking about this many times in her posts which I am thankful for I considered this a recommendation and went into it not knowing much Then I saw This review and other non spoilery reviews can be found The Book PrescriptionGod does not judge you according to your appearance and your wealth, but He looks at your heart and looks into your deedsSo I haven t heard a lot about this book, I thought for a moment that it wasn t even out because it does not get the hype it deserves I saw Becky talking about this many times in her posts which I am thankful for I considered this a recommendation and went into it not knowing much Then I saw that this has riddles it got me there , fantasy elements and the Mongol empire which I never read anything about I go into this and a few pages later the author used the above quote which is from Prophet Mohammed PBUH and then the writing style is just so good and I read the whole thing in 2 days It started a bit slow for me, but it was interesting nonetheless and the good thing is that it kept improving till the last page From the last riddle onward, I was going full on Hermione mode while reading this, I wanted to know what happened and fast So another thing that I really liked is that the author apparently did an extensive research for all parts for the story, she took some liberties which she explained at the end but it was accurate, she quoted Rumi and Ibn ElHaitham and other Arab important figures, she talked about Islam in a very good representation I was so fascinated by this aspect of the story which I salute the author for There was a part where a character did something wrong and I thought it was a bad rep for Islam but then it later said that it was Haram which is Taboo and that is cool because Muslims are humans and they sin too The interesting parts for me are the riddles, and I proudly solved 2 out of the 3 riddles so that gave me a happy boost while reading it I found the book pacing good and not slow as I expected at first The characters in the books are not extensive, But it wasabout the quality than the quantity, it is kind of a character driven book Because it starts from the end and then we get to the beginning only to learnabout the characters and to appreciate themI was a fan of all 3 MC at the end For the plot, I haven t heard of the opera Turandot before which by the way is not needed to read and understand enjoy this So I went into this not knowing exactly what to expect and I didn t care what happens until the end and I thought what if B happens Instead of A, it would besuitable and a cooler ending And we did actually get ending B which was so goodCruelty is easy to repay, my lord Kindness is another matter while everyone else is having a spooky or haunted themed month in october, im goingfor the puffy eyed, runny nose aesthetic with my crying theme so far its going great 4.5 stars DNF.I really don t like to dump a book However, if while reading I am fantasizing about the next books on my list and panicking as to whether or not I ll have time to read them or not, then all signs point to this book is not for you I was hesitant to pick this one up in the first place, only because it s marked as fantasy and young adult While fantasy can delight me from time to time, young adult novels often leave me struggling to engage This became evident with this book as I got de DNF.I really don t like to dump a book However, if while reading I am fantasizing about the next books on my list and panicking as to whether or not I ll have time to read them or not, then all signs point to this book is not for you I was hesitant to pick this one up in the first place, only because it s marked as fantasy and young adult While fantasy can delight me from time to time, young adult novels often leave me struggling to engage This became evident with this book as I got deeper into the story Somehow the characters didn t ring true with the setting they felt like people with modern day sensibilities plunked down in the middle of the thirteenth century Mongol Empire Likely this would benefit those readers who would find appeal with the modern feel while learning about a slice of history The first person point of view didn t help matters any for me either I didn t even get to the romance aspects of the book, but I suspected they would make me cringe Teenage angst and all I gave up on page 174 410 a fair chance, I think I apologize to my fellow NI readers that are sharing this book on its journey I am just not the right audience, and I think this could certainly please many other readers that have better luck with this genre No rating just a plain and simple DNF |READ KINDLE ⚖ The Bird and the Blade ♁ As a slave in the Kipchak Khanate, Jinghua has lost everything her home, her family, her freedom until the kingdom is conquered by enemy forces and she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father across the vast Mongol Empire On the run, with adversaries on all sides and an endless journey ahead, Jinghua hatches a scheme to use the Kipchaks exile to return home, a plan that becomes increasingly fraught as her feelings for Khalaf evolve into a hopeless loveJinghua s already dicey prospects take a downward turn when Khalaf seeks to restore his kingdom by forging a marriage alliance with Turandokht, the daughter of the Great Khan As beautiful as she is cunning, Turandokht requires all potential suitors to solve three impossible riddles to win her hand and if they fail, they dieJinghua has kept her own counsel well, but with Khalaf s kingdom and his very life on the line, she must reconcile the hard truth of her past with her love for a boy who has no idea what she s capable of even if it means losing him to the girl who d sooner take his life than his heart The Bird and the Blade is a lush, powerful story of life and death, battles and riddles, lies and secrets from debut author Megan Bannen The USS Arizona: The Ship, the Men, the Pearl Harbor Attack, and the Symbol That Aroused America Jinghua has lost everything her home No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy her family Hokuto no Ken - Ken, le survivant Vol.10 her freedom until the kingdom is conquered by enemy forces and she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father across the vast Mongol Empire On the run GTO with adversaries on all sides and an endless journey ahead To Lure a Proper Lady Jinghua hatches a scheme to use the Kipchaks exile to return home Screening Sandy Hook: Causes and Consequences a plan that becomes increasingly fraught as her feelings for Khalaf evolve into a hopeless loveJinghua s already dicey prospects take a downward turn when Khalaf seeks to restore his kingdom by forging a marriage alliance with Turandokht Georgia Courthouse Disasters the daughter of the Great Khan As beautiful as she is cunning The Z Club Turandokht requires all potential suitors to solve three impossible riddles to win her hand and if they fail Sacred Sins they dieJinghua has kept her own counsel well Skinny-Dipping but with Khalaf s kingdom and his very life on the line Oklahoma, a History of Five Centuries she must reconcile the hard truth of her past with her love for a boy who has no idea what she s capable of even if it means losing him to the girl who d sooner take his life than his heart The Bird and the Blade is a lush The Murder at the Vicarage powerful story of life and death Beyond the River: A Novel (Heartlines) battles and riddles Unending Devotion (Michigan Brides, lies and secrets from debut author Megan Bannen EDIT Originally, I did not rate this book anything But after seeing the amalgam of 5 stars, I thought I d put my ownvoices review in here as well as the fact that now I have to explain why I gave it this status in the first place I m happy you liked the book, if you did, but I don t need to be told how to read.My full review of this can be found on Happy Indulgence, over here This is a review not from an objective point of view, but from an ownvoices reader who is Chinese and read about EDIT Originally, I did not rate this book anything But after seeing the amalgam of 5 stars, I thought I d put my ownvoices review in here as well as the fact that now I have to explain why I gave it this status in the first place I m happy you liked the book, if you did, but I don t need to be told how to read.My full review of this can be found on Happy Indulgence, over here This is a review not from an objective point of view, but from an ownvoices reader who is Chinese and read about the background of the book and the racist basis for the original play written by Giacomo Puccini I have read the ending of this book Spoilers will be ahead.This book was by no means bad The writing was totally riveting, the first person POV narrative from Jinghua was intriguing, and the research is really well done Like, I read 15% into the book and have to commend the author on her knowledge about the Song Yuan dynasty, and her placement of the Chinese songs and phrases Yay I was SO into it when I stopped The story jumps immediately into action with Jinghua witnessing her love, Prince Khalaf, volunteer to solve riddles that would allow him to marry Turandokht, which would help him with political prospects The main romance is linear as Jinghua and Khalaf s affection to each other stays true while Turandokht is mainly there for political reasons , and from what I ve started to read of it, it s very sweet and lovely.BUT Why did I DNF then There s a whole backstory to this Get ready everyone When I first saw that this book had a Chinese main character, I was like Ooh, interesting I was a bit wary starting because sometimes Chinese stories don t get done right by white authors, but from what little I did read, Bannen did a pretty good job with the culture It s muchdrawn out and integrated than the opera this book was based on, Turandot I was also excited to see her rendition of the story Before reading, I looked up the synopsis of Turandot because I don t have much opera background and I loathed it It s the story of a prince who solves these riddles and marries this bitchy princess the namesake of the opera while the slave Chinese girl who has been SUPPORTING HIM THE WHOLE TIME die by suicide because of her unrequited love I was NOT having it Side note the opera itself was very racist and sexist, but I don t think the book exhibited any of these aspects So I continued with the novel, evenexcited to see the Chinese girl, Jinghua, get the happy or at least SATISFYING ending she deserved At the time of reading, I just started the school semester so I was a bit backed up with assignments and I told myself, Well, why don t I check out the ending just to make sure I don t waste precious time In retrospect, I m glad I did because if I had followed the whole book without knowing the ending, it would have left me gutted and feeling like it wasn t worth the time I spent view spoiler This book follows the opera very closely even up to the point of the main narrator killing herself in the end to save the boy she loved I respect the fact that she did it in order to save him, but I m just so disappointed that she had to die for that to happen I thought this retelling would beabout empowerment for Jinghua rather than the passive role it seemed like she got in the original opera, and I just didn t think it was the ending she deserved Yes, the romance stayed linear the few accounts I got from Khalaf himself made me see him as a nice guy, but seriously no one special I m just really disappointed her character ends with a suicide and would have probably been angry if I read through the whole book Perhaps this will resonate with some readers but for me I don t need that heartbreak in my life.The most heart wrenching aspect for me is that Jinghua is a Chinese character who sacrificed herself in the end I am tired of Chinese heroines not getting the endings they deserve, and the victories they work hard for Many a reader will commend this story for its tragic elements, but what wastragic for ME was the fact that I saw a character like me die by suicide for a love interest And most of the readers giving this glowing reviews don t understand the nuances that an ownvoices POC reader like me does hide spoiler Because this book is pretty heavily focused on the romance, I ll discuss it a bit The love interest, Khalaf, was sweet BUT He wasn t sweet enough for the actions that happened at the climax of the bookNo one ever saw me except KhalafHello girl You do not need a boy s validation to be a person Who cares about Khalaf YOU need to see you for how amazing you are Oh and the way he treated her made my heart ACHE in the beginning Not a good ache The kind of ache that was like, He better get redemption or grovel for this behavior, which of course I never saw.I don t want to spoil too much without the tag, but it wasn t the ending that I wanted and I m glad I didn t use precious time reading the rest of the book Maybe the writing would have been worth the rest of the read or the developing romance , but I was so disappointed by the ending that I knew I would have been evenheartbroken and bitter if I had read the whole book In the end, The Bird and the Blade is a romance driven historical fantasy with detailic research and a riveting romance It s also a stand alone, so there s that If you re ready for a pretty heartbreaking romantic read, then by all means pick this up I know this kind of angsty, forbidden love is what some readers like to read But if, like me, you re here for the ones where characters ultimately reign triumphant based on growth or actions, then maybe pass on this Alternatively, there are other books by Asian authors featuring Asian characters that come out triumphant in the end, unlike this one I will write a blog post with these recommendations and share them soon Content Warning suicide, violenceFrom when I first added this review on GR Okay let me explain about about the DNF status This book was by no means bad The writing was totally riveting, the first person POV narrative from Jinghua was intriguing, and the research is really well done Like, I read 15% into the book and have to commend the author on her knowledge about the Song Yuan dynasty, and her placement of the Chinese songs and phrases Yay I was SO into it when I stopped The story jumps immediately into action with Jinghua witnessing her love, Prince Khalaf, volunteer to solve riddles that would allow him to marry Turandokht, which would help him with political prospects The main romance is linear as Jinghua and Khalaf s affection to each other stays true while Turandokht is mainly there for political reasons , and from what I ve started to read of it, it s very sweet and lovely.BUT Why did I DNF then There s a whole backstory to this Get ready everyone When I first saw that this book had a Chinese main character, I was like Ooh, interesting I was a bit wary starting because sometimes Chinese stories don t get done right by white authors, but from what little I did read, Bannen did a pretty good job with the culture It s muchdrawn out and integrated than the opera this book was based on, Turandot I was also excited to see her rendition of the story Before reading, I looked up the synopsis of Turandot because I don t have much opera background and I loathed it It s the story of a prince who solves these riddles and marries this bitchy princess the name of the opera while the slave Chinese girl who has been SUPPORTING HIM THE WHOLE TIME dies by suicide because of her unrequited love I was NOT having it Not to mention the racist and sexist implications of the original narrative, because honestly, of course old European men during that time with yellow fever could perpetuate such stereotypes and fetishization in an opera So obviously, I was like In this retelling I bet the Chinese girl gets what she deserves aka a Good Ending Lmao my naive thoughts.Full review rant closer to release date I knew I was going to love this book I just knew it I mean, unless the actual writing turned out to be subpar, there was simply no way this book wasn t going to be a favorite Buteven though I knew I was going to love this bookI HAD NO IDEA JUST HOW MUCH I WOULD LOVE THIS BOOK Here s the thing I was an honest to goodness outcast in high school Not because I was rebellious or reclusive or anything Mostly it was because I just didn t like the right things Even the other outcas I knew I was going to love this book I just knew it I mean, unless the actual writing turned out to be subpar, there was simply no way this book wasn t going to be a favorite Buteven though I knew I was going to love this bookI HAD NO IDEA JUST HOW MUCH I WOULD LOVE THIS BOOK Here s the thing I was an honest to goodness outcast in high school Not because I was rebellious or reclusive or anything Mostly it was because I just didn t like the right things Even the other outcasts I knew liked the same kinds of outcast friendly books, movies, and music Me I read the classics I liked old movies from the 1930s and 40s And worst of allI listened to opera For the fun of it.So yeah Totally an outcast But very happy that way, thank you And I did find My People eventually, so this is not a pity party, I promise All that to say, the opera on which The Bird and the Blade is based is one of my favorites Puccini s Turandot It s tragic and epic and gorgeous and just stunning When I was eighteen, I got to see it live I wore a floor length, black velvet dress and elbow length gloves I mean, when you re going to the opera, you should GO TO THE OPERA Right And I cried through the beautiful production and loved every moment Of course the best character in the story was the slave girl, Liu She also gets several amazing solos, including THIS one Hers is the emotional story that carries the whole opera, even if she is only a secondary character She is brave and strong and selfless and just a wonderful heroine in her own right Turandot is interestingbut Liu is the heart and soul of this tale And this bookthis beautiful book is about HER In Megan Bannen s version of the tale, the heroine is renamed Jinghua and is a slave to a Mongol prince Bannen really dove into the heart and head of her heroine in ways I could never have predicted, staying true always to the original character on which she is based, but always deepening and expanding as she went Most of the book is actually prolonged flashback, which I wouldn t ordinarily enjoybut it was so perfectly done in this instance We keep coming back to the present for short intervals as we watch the horrifying Riddles Test play out, but the story of what brought Jinghua, Khalaf, and Timur to this crisis is the real adventure I read in an interview that Bannen was heavily inspired by Megan Whalen Turner s The Thief, which features an unreliable narrator, several MASSIVE surprise twists, not to mention a richly developed setting and culture Turner is one of my all time favorite authors, so knowing that Bannen was inspired by her also lead me to believe I would love her novel And I have to say, the influence is VERY evident in all the best possible ways So here s the thing readers should probably be aware of going in this book is tragic I mean, tears pouring down my face as I read the last few pages tragic Familiar with opera as I am, I wasn t SURPRISED by how things turned outstill, I will confess, I kept hoping the author would take some creative liberties and find a different way to bring about her conclusion But you know what I m glad she didn t The story ended just the way it should Everything about the journey led to THAT moment, and to write THAT moment any other way would have been a coward s move Megan Bannen is no coward She courageously tackled this tale and pulled it off brilliantly It s been a week since I binge read the whole thing in about a 24 hr period, and I ve not stopped thinking about it since I bought a second copy and sent it to my best friend I forced my own copy into my husband s hands, and I keep pestering my mom that she MUST read it as well she likes a lot of the same kinds of books I do I can think of at least threepeople I m going to foist this story on, and I fully intend to keep talking it up every chance I get It s just THAT good So yeah I don t know if Bannen has anybooks in the works But I m telling you, she has made the VERY short list of authors whose works I will buy on name only going forward Whatever she writes, I m here for it And The Bird and the Blade itself is a book I m going to be re reading and sharing for years to come 3.75I read this story just because I knew it was supposed to have a tragic end, for that, I was not disappointed I think the ending of this book was brave and beautiful So this story is really a romance in a fantasy setting, the entire plot and driving storyline hinges on our MC s undying love for the man who owns her she s a slave I think the plot is very interesting and when the deeper elements of the story and the characters are revealed, I thought all that was done very well as well.I m 3.75I read this story just because I knew it was supposed to have a tragic end, for that, I was not disappointed I think the ending of this book was brave and beautiful So this story is really a romance in a fantasy setting, the entire plot and driving storyline hinges on our MC s undying love for the man who owns her she s a slave I think the plot is very interesting and when the deeper elements of the story and the characters are revealed, I thought all that was done very well as well.I m not a big fan of fantasy romances, but that s not why this book wasn t a hit for me The MC s inner monologue got pretty old because on almost every single page of the book she mentioned how beautiful her love was, or how distracting he was, or how much she loved him, or scolded herself for thinking about him it was CONSTANT And when we find out her backstory and motivations for everything, I was just disappointed that she wasn t thinkingabout everything else that should have been on her mind It made her come off as very young, like a preteen with an obsessive crush, or made the author come of like she was trying too hard to push the love story Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who isn t a romantic I think if you re a hopeless romantic that wants a tragic story for a change, I highly recommend There were things that brought it down for me, but overall, I think it s a well done book