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During high school, I would spend an insane amount of money on books (and it didn’t help that I lived just a short car ride away from a Barnes and Noble). I also had plenty of free time on my hands, so I could plow through books with hundreds of pages in a matter of days or even hours.  However, ever since I started college, I haven’t had the time to finish even a single book that wasn’t for my classes. Although I know I don’t have the time to read them, I’ve still continued buying books that interest me (if you’re in Austin, you should totally check out BookPeople, Texas’ largest independent bookstore). Here are some of the books waiting on my bookshelf:

Gods of Jade and Shadow

“The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.”

I read in a review that said Gods of Jade and Shadow was like a retelling of the classic Cinderella story with Mayan mythology and Mexican history, so I was immediately intrigued (I love classic fairy tale tropes). The book itself isn’t too long, at 334 pages, and it’s also standalone. If I ever get around to reading the books on this list, I’ll probably finish this one first.

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

Warning: If you plan on reading “The Poppy War”, skip this section.

“The exciting end to The Poppy War trilogy, R. F. Kuang’s acclaimed, award-winning epic fantasy that combines the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating, enthralling effect.

After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. 

Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation. 

Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it?”

This is the final installment of The Poppy War series, which is hands down my most favorite series of all time. I first read The Poppy War in high school, and it was my introduction to the world of dark, adult fantasy after reading exclusively Young Adult books for the longest time. I absolutely love Rin, the protagonist, even as I watched her make dumb mistakes and do terrible things. Although I’ve been waiting for The Burning God for two years, I can’t get myself to read it. Am I terrified to finally find out what happens to Rin, the protagonist, (who happens to be based on Mao Zedong) as she makes her descent into madness? Absolutely.

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

“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 have only heard amazing reviews about this series. It’s been on my “Must Read” list for a long time, and I bought it after seeing it at BookPeople. This book was also recommended to me by a friend I had recommended The Poppy War to, and knowing how much I love that series, he insisted that I would love this one too. I can never get enough of strong, female characters in science fiction/fantasy books, so hopefully, I can find the time to read this soon.

Britney is a freshman at UT majoring in International Relations and Global Studies. This is her first semester writing for Her Campus, and she hopes to write about beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. In her free time, she enjoys reading, discovering new recipes, and finding the next best skincare product.
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