Adventures in Aesthetics

I was inspired to make a new blog for bookish things when some of my friends decided to make new blogs or redesign their old ones. These are some of the most exceptional people I know, and I wanted to share a bit about them and myself.

  • Janel Allison – Janel Allison went for a pastel pink and star theme. It’s so cute, and it makes me want to cry. Janel Allison has an excellent eye for books, and I value her critiques of books. They’re always so well thought out and relevant. 
  • Jaye – Jaye went with this adorable pastel space theme. I adore her blog background and would like to steal it for my phone. Jaye’s always got something witty and intelligent to say about what she reads, plus she’s the queen of memes.
  • Meaghan – Meaghan went for a space theme as well, and it’s so polished and cute. They are so smart! Meaghan’s talented in so many different areas that it’s hard to tell their field of expertise.
  • Sam – Sam has this dark witchy vibe going on, and it is hot. Sam’s very passionate about her love of books, and a few favorites in particular. I always love hearing what she’s currently reading.
  • Becca – Becca is focusing on a bread/toast theme. Becca’s blog background is spectacular, and she’s so sweet. Plus, Becca’s blog has the cutest tagline ever.

I live in North America, and I’ve been a massive fan of fantasy and sci-fi since I was a kid. I program things for fun and work a job to have fun sharing my knowledge about computers. You can find me buried under a massive TBR pile, frantically trying to claw my way through my backlist.

I’m vibing with a floral aesthetic right now. Linaria is a genus of flower, encompassing approximately 200 different species. Linaria is sometimes called toadflax (Really flattering name, I know), and toadflax can be found in garden ornamentals like the one in the post header. Linaria has been cultivated for thousands of years, for various reasons, including for its’ plant fiber.

I decided to go through my top five books that use a lot of plant fiber (aka large book bois). I’m going to list the first book of each series, even if it’s short, to make things more accessible.

The Poppy War (658 pages)

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 Poppy War is the first book in an epic debut fantasy series by R. F. Kuang. The series is brutal and heartbreaking, but so very addicting. The relationship between Nezha, Kitay and Rin is so complex, and I stan it. As the series progresses, the politics and war intensify to an absolutely untenable pitch, and it’s devastating to read. Seriously, one of my absolute favourite series, and I’ll have a review for the final book in the series, The Burning God, sometime later this week!

The City of Brass (533 pages)


Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…

I’ve only had the opportunity to read the first two books in the Daevabad trilogy, but The City of Brass hits hard. Featuring an intricate and complex world full of magic and politics. Nahri, Ali and Dara are fascinating characters with so many layers to their relationships. Ali, especially, grew on me after the first book. I will admit the series does start a little slow, but when you get into the book, you’ll be hooked. I’m hoping I get a chance to read the final book in the trilogy, The Empire of Gold, soon!

Strange the Dreamer (536 pages)

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The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage. 

First up, the UK cover for Strange the Dreamer is one of the most beautiful things ever. Strange the Dreamer is a completed duology from Laini Taylor, and despite it being a few years since I’ve read it, the book is still haunting me today. Laini writes the most gorgeous prose about this completely fascinating world that was once full of gods. Lazlo has to be one of my favorite male protagonists ever, and I hope you love the book as much as I did.

The Starless Sea (498 pages)

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Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

The Starless Sea is a standalone fantasy novel from the author of The Night Circus. It’s so rare to get standalone fantasy these days, and The Starless Sea shows why there should be more. This book is a work of art, and if you enjoy lyrical prose, it needs to be on your list to read. Morgenstern weaves together various points of view as well as other stories that all flow together into one satisfying conclusion.

A Darker Shade of Magic (533 pages)


Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy is probably a classic in the fantasy genre by now. It’s one of the books that really got me back into reading fantasy, and obsessed with Schwab’s writing. I actually don’t have words that can adequately describe how amazing this book is. Schwab writes beautifully, crafting a world with love. Kell, Lila, Holland, Rhy and so many other characters have stayed with me long after I finished the book.

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