Book Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao + Giveaway

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33958230Forest of a Thousand Lanterns intrigued me with Julie C. Dao’s poetic writing style as I feast upon with the story of a retelling, moreover an anti-heroine book that made me wish for a happy ending. The execution of the story is brilliant, I didn’t expect to show empathy to some characters that I loathe in the book. The book is irresistible, the words are addictive, and I’m grateful that it grips me hard on my seat. It was one of those books that I’ve never thought that I would enjoy and devour the stunning premise of the novel.

While I was reading the book, it felt like I was reading (or watching) on the back of my mind a Korean drama. The proses are lyrical, the words are impressively crafted, and the world-building is outstanding that I want to drown myself of how rich the royalty in the book and how raw the scenes that I could imagine it vividly.

The book started with few pages that seem too hard to indulge however it doesn’t stop me from reading as the pace follows through and I can’t put the book down anymore. Xifeng is a victim of abuse with her own Guma. A character that expected to do what should have been done for a Queen to be. I hated Guma in this book since she showed the readers the ugly reality in fiction as it portrayed in life. But that’s the very essence of this book and that’s why I loved this novel because there are so many philosophies that the reader can learn from. It dwells with poverty and how a character stand on her own way to be at the top, it discusses few political views that teaches readers to be nationalistic in some way, it tackles raw emotions; envy, pity, hatred, despair, resolve, greed, pride, fear, and love that made the whole book unique, oddly hopeful (at least for me) and satisfying at the end.

You’ll witness how Xifeng delivers herself throughout the book – with so much, compassion, drive, confidence, beauty, and intelligence. I came to love her and the book even if its an anti-heroine. This is The Royal Polar Bear for the first time wishing for a happy ending for someone we see how someone so pure became so dark and that deep inside we can, we could understand her as life balance everything in the world – even in a person with a good personality and yet bears a sin.

What’s surprising about this book is that when everything fell into place, the one thing that you are hoping for Xifeng parted with her. There’s this one scene in the book that made me sad because it hurts like it really hurts because you wish what could have been for her. And like the reality, we don’t get what we want for everything. This is one of the things that I like that Julie C. Dao put in her books. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a mask of reality that her readers could relate at some point.

In the end, this book is the epitome of actuality. It shows us the two different sides of the coin how someone so kind can become someone who is so manipulative with the influence of her hardship through people who treat her with so much disgust and pain. It taught me that being kind can make the world better – but for our protagonist, “Will being kind can save yourself?” You have to be ruthless, brave, and wiser to play the games of the world. I would also like to point out how Dao depicted feminism and incorporating the misogynistic culture of a sovereign in a traditional Eastern setting.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns exudes so many profound characters that will give you so much hesitation whether to love or to hate the character, to wish or not to wish for a happy ending. It gave us a lot of perspectives, determination, and admiration. And the only word that came out after I read the book: Satisfying. I like how Julie C. Dao ended the book with so much hopefulness, uncertain of the future, and what will become of Xifeng? Without expectations when I started this book, I can proudly say that this book is one of those amazing books that I read in 2017.

My Ratings: 5 STARS!!!

Thank you to Erika from The Nocturnal Fey for hosting the PH Blog Tour for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao!

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October 27th


The Nocturnal Fey – Erika

The Royal Polar Bear Reads – Rafael

The Ultimate Fangirl – Bianca


October 28th


The Nerdy Side of a Queen – Nicay

dmcireadsblog – Danielle

Camillea Reads – Patricia Camille


October 29th


Bookablereads Book Review – Carmel

Reading Flamingo – Abigail

Amidst the Pages – Imo


October 30th


The Hogsmeade Reader – Danica

The Purple Nightingale – Janella

Descendant of Poseidon Reads – Joel


October 31st


Afire Pages – Karina

The Queen Reads – Elena

the broke biblioPHL – Hana


15215228Julie C. Dao ( is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.

Julie is represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.


Interview with Scott Reintgen!


Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

1. Basic Question: Where did you get the idea of Nyxia, the substance in the novel, which has a significant role in the story?

It all started with the nyxian translation masks. I imagined these students from all over the world having their language barriers removed as they competed against each other. From there, it was just about figuring out how they’d created that technology and what kind of substance they might have used to make it. Nyxia was born out of that stream of thought.

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Wicked Reads: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao


An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.



15215228Julie C. Dao ( is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.

Book Review: Us Kids Know by JJ Strong

unnamed (1)

unnamedIntoxicating. Unpredictable. Realistic. Us Kids Know by JJ Strong gave me so much pain in the process of reading the novel with life realizations, complicated family issues that need to discuss mixed with mental health awareness and the longing of in a relationship or at least friendship for the broken characters of the book.

This novel is mind breaking, heart-wrenching, profoundly compelling that execute so much lies and anticipation, truth and answers, forgiveness and hope. It depicts the negative action of kids when they are not guided when they are not understood – and it shows the ugly side of human behavior which I really appreciate the stunning correlation of human sympathy, pity, desires and the never-ending guilt.

I would like to commend JJ Strong for writing a difficult book that exudes a lot of issues. Finding the answer in the universe, questioning your purpose, accepting defeat towards an individual mental illness are few issues to be named of and this book is crazy. It tackles suicide with so much reality that even I was shocked how a character covers up his intention and how another character was so direct and transparent with depression and serious of killing himself, finding light in between the process of grieving.

It taught me that even if your family is totally messed up – they are still the ones who will care for you. I liked how the book ended that the author leaves what will happen next to the readers but I want more. I love how raw and true this book to reality. How friendship can spur in the moment and collapses in second. I liked Cullen’s uniqueness that drives to people to do things that they never thought they would and experience such rush, happiness, and fear all the same time. It was a book that will let your mind wander on its pages and addicted by the narrative.

Us Kids Know by JJ Strong is a fast-paced book with a poetic writing style that is easy to read. It feels like you were in the character’s shoes, striving for the best but to be greeted by disappointment. There are things that left hanging in the book and it mirrors the life negatively and yet it was all the truth. Things like this could happen. Stories in this book did happen. It got me to thinking that life is short and there is so much lesson that can fill someone’s life. And Us Kids Know made me realized that people need to unleash their inner demons at some point to prevent themselves to be eaten by their own thoughts. It is palpable and mundane both at the same time. With an open mind, parents should read this wonderful book.



Week One:

October 23 – The Royal Polar Bear Reads – Review

October 24 – ButterMyBooks – Author Guest Post | Playlist

October 25 – The Lovely Books – Review

October 26 – The Bookish Crypt – Review

October 27 – YA and Wine – “I Solemnly Swear That I am Up to No Good” | The Most Mischievous in YA


Week Two:

October 30 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Mood Board

October 31 – YA Book Central – Excerpt

November 1 – The Wednesday Blog for Books – Review

November 2 – The Crazy Bookworm – Review

November 3 – Gladiator Glory – Review & Book Photography


JJ Strong unnamed (2)received a creative writing degree from the University of Southern California, and a B.A. in English from Georgetown University. His writing has appeared in Fifth Wednesday, the Santa Monica Review, and LA Weekly. He taught for many years in the undergraduate writing program at USC, before moving to the Washington, D.C. area with his wife and son.

Interview with K. Ancrum!

33158541The Wicker King is a psychological young adult thriller that follows two friends struggling as one spirals into madness.

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

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Book Review: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

c27bcf1e-e4f4-4216-ba27-8a04877ba075-sunandflowersThe Sun and Her Fowers by Rupi Kaur has a deeper meaning if you are going to generalize every poem in the book and take it as a whole but it still doesn’t make the list of my beloved poetry books. Unfortunately, this book is not comparable to Milk and Honey that exudes so much feminism. It may have some distinction of the advocacy on Milk and Honey but The Sun and Her Flowers doesn’t live up to my expectations. It felt like there are poems that are good, there are poems that gut-wrenching that you’ll feel the emotions, however, there are more poems that doesn’t make sense.

Let’s say that this book is thicker and there’s a message that Rupi Kaur wants her readers to realize but the prose in this book feels like redundant in different words. I don’t want to be rude but it feels like she is recycling the feelings, the emotions, and the pain then write another poetry by changing the words or add a little bit story to change it entirely but the thoughts are still the same.

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, admittedly, got me bored at some point and the impact of her book became lesser than the impact that Milk and Honey have left me. I don’t know if I just have too high expectations with this book or it was so hyped that I just have this moment of needing to read it but at the end, it regrettably dismays my satisfaction and expectations.



8075577Rupi Kaur is a writer and artist based in Toronto, Canada. With a focus in poetry, she released her first book of prose and poems in November 2014. Throughout her poetry, photography, illustrations, and creative direction she engages with themes of femininity, love, loss, trauma, and healing. When she is not writing or creating art, she is travelling internationally to perform her spoken word poetry, as well as hosting writing workshops. You can find more of her work at


Book Review: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

33158541Mundane. Raw. Intriguing. As I was reading The Wicker King by K. Ancrum, it left me with an impression of somehow between feeling twisted and confused. And it turns out, I believe, that it was two of the emotions that the author would want to imply with her book. Two stories of best friends who grew up with each other’s side showing their closeness and their bonds on the journey. While I have this dull intuition with the novel, it didn’t make me stop reading. Actually, one of the factors that kept me from reading it is because of the fascinating, beautiful and brilliant arts in between. It made me want to read the book because I was anticipating what kind of arts I will see as I kept on going on.

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