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Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

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This fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels. Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery This fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels. Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn't want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire? Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with breathtaking pain and beauty, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is filled with dazzling magic, powerful prose, and characters readers won't soon forget. Fans of Stealing Snow, Red Queen, and The Wrath and the Dawn will hungrily devour this page-turning read.


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This fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels. Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery This fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels. Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn't want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire? Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with breathtaking pain and beauty, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is filled with dazzling magic, powerful prose, and characters readers won't soon forget. Fans of Stealing Snow, Red Queen, and The Wrath and the Dawn will hungrily devour this page-turning read.

30 review for Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    *sigh* It's never as fun reading about the good guy. It's a real shame that this sequel is so slow when Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was so freaking good. It's also a shame to see the focus go from the amazing evil complex villain that is Xifeng, to rightful Empress and all-round good girl, Jade. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix sees Jade now at adolescence after being raised in a monastery. Xifeng has called her back to the city - likely with some nefarious scheme in mind - and Jade will, of cou *sigh* It's never as fun reading about the good guy. It's a real shame that this sequel is so slow when Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was so freaking good. It's also a shame to see the focus go from the amazing evil complex villain that is Xifeng, to rightful Empress and all-round good girl, Jade. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix sees Jade now at adolescence after being raised in a monastery. Xifeng has called her back to the city - likely with some nefarious scheme in mind - and Jade will, of course, set about to reclaim the throne that is rightly hers. This is not a spoiler; the duology is a Snow White retelling after all. Neither Jade nor her quest are anywhere near as interesting as Xifeng and her rise to power. For one thing, the book takes over a hundred pages to get to the main plot, with the set-up establishing Jade as someone who is so mindlessly good as to be almost irritating. Then we find ourselves on a quest to retrieve five magical relics from fairy tales in order to summon the Dragon Guard, a heavenly army said to bring peace back to Feng Lu. This part is heavily-padded with references to the fairy tales in question and various mini adventures. Sometimes I enjoy stories within stories, but here it felt like filler. As if there wasn’t enough of a plot so the author created lots of mini plots to prolong the story. And I just really dislike journey books. I've said this before, but it almost always feels like an attempt to extend the time between two significant plot points. Just get there already! I missed that fiery bizatch Xifeng and her nastiness. I missed the court politics. I missed having a protagonist who was bad and yet sympathetic. Jade is so boring in comparison. I would still recommend the first book, but I don't feel it's necessary to move onto this second. You probably know how it ends anyway. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    January 14, 2018: Hello lovely readers! I never visit my books' Goodreads pages anymore, since these should be safe spaces for readers to share whatever they think and I 100% respect that. Thank you for telling others what you think, no matter what review or rating you leave, because you took time out of your day to do so. I appreciate it! In that spirit, I am just here quickly to share my excitement about KINGDOM OF THE BLAZING PHOENIX with you! The book comes out in October, and we don't have a January 14, 2018: Hello lovely readers! I never visit my books' Goodreads pages anymore, since these should be safe spaces for readers to share whatever they think and I 100% respect that. Thank you for telling others what you think, no matter what review or rating you leave, because you took time out of your day to do so. I appreciate it! In that spirit, I am just here quickly to share my excitement about KINGDOM OF THE BLAZING PHOENIX with you! The book comes out in October, and we don't have a cover or an exact release date yet, but I hope we will soon. I'll announce on Twitter and Instagram, and I'm sure the good folks here at Goodreads will put them up here for you to see. We'll also have a synopsis shortly, I think! I'm revising this book right now and loving it just as much as I loved FOTL, but in a different way. They are different "book babies," after all! As some of you may know, KINGDOM features a different heroine (and I love her with all my heart; she is a cinnamon roll, but with a little spice to her) and it has a very different format --- it follows the classic quest/epic fantasy adventure style that I love, with a healthy dose of inspiration from folktales. I hope you'll enjoy reading this story as much as I am enjoying writing it! It's been a lot of hard work, but I hope it will be worthwhile. Ok, I'm off and I won't be back here, but please find me on Twitter (@jules_writes) or Instagram (@juliecdao)! Happy reading to you all! XOXO Julie

  3. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    actual rating: 2.5 okay honestly I'll admit I went into this with a bit of a bias because Xifeng is in my top 5 favorite characters of all time so I knew this probably wouldn't pan out in a way I was happy with. But I was willing to give it a chance and see if I could be persuaded to care about Jade. It took me a while to settle on a rating for this. And for me it comes down to the fact that this paled in comparison to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. Where that book was complex and intriguing, thi actual rating: 2.5 okay honestly I'll admit I went into this with a bit of a bias because Xifeng is in my top 5 favorite characters of all time so I knew this probably wouldn't pan out in a way I was happy with. But I was willing to give it a chance and see if I could be persuaded to care about Jade. It took me a while to settle on a rating for this. And for me it comes down to the fact that this paled in comparison to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. Where that book was complex and intriguing, this was predictable and boring. We went from following Xifeng who had such a fascinating journey and grew into a powerful villain, to following Jade who was just so bland. There is nothing fun about reading from a character who is just so good. And she totally fell into the special snowflake syndrome. Everything she did was the right thing to do. It got boring. The main plot of this book was that Jade needed to go on a journey to find some horcruxes magic items. But it took 100 pages to even get that storyline started and once they were on the journey I was just over it. One thing that is still clear in this book is that Julie is an incredible writer and her world building is top notch. Although I didn't like the plot or characters, the writing is what kept me reading. I'm really disappointed by this because Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was my favorite YA fantasy of last year and this just really didn't live up to it for me. I can see a lot of people enjoying this because my problems with it were more personal preferences rather than things that I think were done badly. ARC provided by Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I already need to read this. I feel like 2018 is already too far away. Cover and info needed pleaseeeeee ———- We have a title!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Monroe

    Predictions: (view spoiler)[1) White Jade is Snow White 2) Akira's son is the prince 3) Wei is the hunter who lets White Jade go 4) The price Xifeng pays is that she can't have kids. (hide spoiler)]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fables&Wren

    I'm constantly checking to see when this book will have more info. I am so anxious that this beautiful anti-hero is going to end horribly because the actual "hero" has to win in the end, right? UGH. I need this book so badly. - - - That Title is on FIRE.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    This duology is without a doubt one of my favourite fantasies I’ve ever read. It’s beautifully and intricately written and yet so easy to read. The world is stunning and immersive, without being too heavily described. It features one of the most brilliantly developed and fantastically written villains I have ever read and a cast of multidimensional characters who instantly pull you into the story. The magic system is unique and easy to follow and the over-lining plot is utterly addictive, with n This duology is without a doubt one of my favourite fantasies I’ve ever read. It’s beautifully and intricately written and yet so easy to read. The world is stunning and immersive, without being too heavily described. It features one of the most brilliantly developed and fantastically written villains I have ever read and a cast of multidimensional characters who instantly pull you into the story. The magic system is unique and easy to follow and the over-lining plot is utterly addictive, with nods to the story of Snow White and the Evil Queen subtly and cleverly woven into the pages. Without spoiling book one, book two in this duology is utterly stunning, with stunning stories within stories, addictive quests, wonderful friendships and strong women. The Rise of the Empress duology is fast paced, beautifully written and absolutely wonderful. Overall, I’m devastated this duology has come to an end but I loved every moment of it. (But also, please can I get a series about the Crimson Assassins please and thank you?)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vicky Who Reads

    4.5 stars Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was great, but Kingdom of the Blazing Phoneix was even better. Because wow. I think Dao really stepped up with the world building in this one, and it wasn't in an info dump nature. There was a lot of just exploration of different areas of the world (I didn't have the gorgeous map with me) instead of just the Great Forest, and I think that made it a lot easier for me to get a sense of the world Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is set in. Jade goes on this almost 4.5 stars Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was great, but Kingdom of the Blazing Phoneix was even better. Because wow. I think Dao really stepped up with the world building in this one, and it wasn't in an info dump nature. There was a lot of just exploration of different areas of the world (I didn't have the gorgeous map with me) instead of just the Great Forest, and I think that made it a lot easier for me to get a sense of the world Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is set in. Jade goes on this almost quest across the lands to search for magical god-related artifacts, and that's really why I feel like the worldbuilding was developed a lot better. In general, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is just a different book than Forest of a Thousand Lanters, and you really can read Kingdom without reading FOTL. It's a whole different type of narrative structure--not a descent to evil, but a rising to goodness through a quest of sorts with a ragtag found family, and I just really loved how Jade found these amazing people as part of her life. Plus, I think Dao really takes the concept of Snow White and reinvents it well through her story--it's not rigidly to the tale, but it takes a lot of elements and puts them into her own storyline, which I really enjoyed. I think part of the reason why I liked Kingdom more was because I connected more with Jade than Xifeng was just because she wasn't . . . evil. She's kind and humble, and Dao didn't just say "Jade was a good person," she showed it to us and not through the bad trope of "giving your servant stuff." I always find it irritating when authors try to make royalty "nice people" by having them give stuff to their servants, but still not really treat them as people, and I think Dao did a good job of not doing this, and having Jade treat everyone on the same level, without being a total martyr. Honestly, my only critique would be that some of the quest portions felt a little too convenient. Like, everything fit together easily, and it was all set up so that the protagonists could succeed. I kind of wanted more struggle in finding what way the protagonists could go, finding how they should proceed. The quest almost felt too laid out for them--like two artifacts were conveniently in one place, so they didn't have to travel to X place. It all fit together, and although it was satisfying, I kind of yearned for that extra level of struggle and desperation of the characters. But overall, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix was a great read I absolutely blazed through, and I definitely recommend you pick this one up, even if you didn't like Forest of a Thousand Lanterns! It's a very different type of story, and great for someone who likes fairytale retellings with a twist. (I do still recommend you pick up FOTL though, as it adds a certain level to the book and Xifeng's nature.) Thank you so much to Julie C. Dao and Penguin Teen for sending me an advance reader's copy in exchange for an honest review! Blog | Instagram | Twitter

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stacee

    I liked the first book in this series, so I was pretty eager to see how this one played out. Jade was an easy character to like. She’s loyal and good and nice. So so so sooooooooo nice. And that’s sort of where I lost interest. What I loved from the first book was Xifeng’s ruthlessness. She is in this one, but the focus is all about Jade. There is a small group of characters and I could easily read a companion book about Wren kicking ass. Plot wise, it was okay. The journey was a mild build up a I liked the first book in this series, so I was pretty eager to see how this one played out. Jade was an easy character to like. She’s loyal and good and nice. So so so sooooooooo nice. And that’s sort of where I lost interest. What I loved from the first book was Xifeng’s ruthlessness. She is in this one, but the focus is all about Jade. There is a small group of characters and I could easily read a companion book about Wren kicking ass. Plot wise, it was okay. The journey was a mild build up and the ending was sort of anti-climatic. And while the folklore was a fantastic aspect, I just couldn’t get captivated by a quest without urgency. Overall, it was a good story with gorgeous imagery, but it didn’t have the spark I was hoping for. **Huge thanks to Philomel Books for providing the arc free of charge**

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess

    I have to know what happens, I am absolutely in love with Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Xifeng. Maybe not such realistic snakes on the cover though, yes? I absolutely love the new cover designs they are gorgeous oh man just look. I desperately need more Xifeng in my life!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hiba

    AHHHHHHH the blurb!!!! I hope in the end Jade and Xeifeng become friends and burn the world together!!!!! NOW GIMME THE BOOK NOW ______________ Call me crazy but I want to know more about White Jade then Xifeng. I can't stop thinking where this would go.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    No spoilers in this review of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. I liked it pretty well and give it 3 stars. This sequel was different from what I expected. I thought it would focus on Xifeng, the main character in Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. She certainly wasn’t my favorite character as she wasn’t a very sympathetic one, but I expected this sequel to be a continuation of her story. It wasn’t. Kingdom was about Jade, the emperor’s daughter (and Xifeng’s stepdaughter). A nurse has raised Princess No spoilers in this review of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. I liked it pretty well and give it 3 stars. This sequel was different from what I expected. I thought it would focus on Xifeng, the main character in Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. She certainly wasn’t my favorite character as she wasn’t a very sympathetic one, but I expected this sequel to be a continuation of her story. It wasn’t. Kingdom was about Jade, the emperor’s daughter (and Xifeng’s stepdaughter). A nurse has raised Princess Jade in a monastery since her mother’s death at the end of Forest. She has led a simple, subservient life but returns to the palace when Xifeng calls her home to celebrate her sixteenth birthday. Jade is overwhelmed by the royal opulence and shocked to see the sickly, weakened state her father is in. She soon realizes Xifeng is the true ruler of their kingdom and has ulterior motives for inviting her back to the palace. Jade escapes Xifeng’s grip with the help of two new friends and sets off on an adventure to learn the truth behind her family’s past. Even though she doesn’t want to lead, she sees the state of the kingdom and decides to gather power to try to assume her rightful place on the throne. This book started with promise, had a good premise, and wrapped up in an exciting way. So why was I bored for such a long stretch in the middle? The story contained many elements I usually love, but it just didn’t quite add up to a great read. It was good at best. The tone of this installment was vastly different than that of Forest because Jade is the polar opposite of Xifeng, and this threw me for a loop. My other complaint: Dao didn’t properly foreshadow biggest surprise of the book, thus it didn’t feel fully earned. I was confused by another surprise in the climax and was ready to lodge a big complaint. But Dao redeemed herself with how the story eventually played out. What did I enjoy? Dao’s prose is once again great, and I love reading about Asian culture. These are easily the two biggest positives in this finale. Overall, I would recommend this series. It is above average YA for sure. But I didn’t like Kingdom as well as Forest. The funny thing is, I kind of missed all of the things I complained about in my review of book 1. 😉 Read all of our reviews here. Check out our full book recaps here.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Giselle

    OH. They changed the cover.. Well looks like I won't be getting this then. Yes I need my books to match..IDC

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Strolle

    AMAZING SPECTACULAR MAGNIFICENT I LOVE THIS BETTER THAN FOTL? IF PENGUIN DOESN'T PUSH THIS I STG

  15. 5 out of 5

    ☽ MaryJane ✨

    12/14 - THAT TITLE HAS ME SO HYPED _________ I NEED IT.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Kratz

    I really enjoyed the first book. It was a very interesting version of how the evil queen became evil from Snow White set in a fantasy imperial China type setting. This takes place about 15 years after the first book and really almost feels like a stand alone. It didn’t really do the first one justice though. In this one we follow Jade (the Snow White character) on a journey to stop her step mom the evil queen. Jade was supposed to be this shy timid character but her actions are anything other than I really enjoyed the first book. It was a very interesting version of how the evil queen became evil from Snow White set in a fantasy imperial China type setting. This takes place about 15 years after the first book and really almost feels like a stand alone. It didn’t really do the first one justice though. In this one we follow Jade (the Snow White character) on a journey to stop her step mom the evil queen. Jade was supposed to be this shy timid character but her actions are anything other than. She goes to the palace and starts giving orders willie-nilly. She was just too wholesome she could do no wrong. A lot of the story is spent on various journeys to go collect these artifacts that will help her. There is a mini fairy tale inside each one. It just felt too slow and anti climatic at the end. It was a quest or journey tale and really just fell apart. I did like seeing several Snow White references the dwarves, the poisoned apple. etc but it was a bit underwhelming. Still enjoyable just offered nothing new. Just not as big a fan of this one vs the first one. It is still readable and flowed well, but the story reads almost like an anthology of fables than a cohesive story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    ALEXA

    4.5 stars. Such an excellent companion sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns! Julie does an incredible job making this one read like a fairytale, and weaving in elements from lore, other fairytales and the first book. I definitely got emotional reading this and I can’t believe the story is finally complete!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔

    Not a huge fan of this cover and it also does not at all match the first book...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Iryna semi-hiatus (Book and Sword)

    Really excited for this one!!! Although, don't know how I feel about such drastic cover change. The first one was pretty! My WEBSITE My INSTAGRAM My WORDPRESS BLOG

  20. 5 out of 5

    N.K. Traver

    I received an early copy of this, and I can confirm you are in for a treat. This is an epic sequel that succeeds in being both really different from book 1, but also comfortably familiar. There's lots to love here, from seeing where each character in book 1 ends up after 15 years, to exploring the incredible world of Feng Lu, to the gut-wrenching ending. A thrill ride of a read. Don't miss this series!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    In many ways, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s predecessor, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, was dark and uncomfortable (in a good way!) and a retelling of a villain origin story. Obviously I therefore loved it. But I wasn’t sure how that would fold into Kingdom. Kingdom is definitely not as dark and uncomfortable! By the end it is a wonderful tale of friendship and a great re-imagining of Snow White in an Asian setting. It starts pretty slowly, and I have to say I In many ways, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s predecessor, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, was dark and uncomfortable (in a good way!) and a retelling of a villain origin story. Obviously I therefore loved it. But I wasn’t sure how that would fold into Kingdom. Kingdom is definitely not as dark and uncomfortable! By the end it is a wonderful tale of friendship and a great re-imagining of Snow White in an Asian setting. It starts pretty slowly, and I have to say I did struggle with that a little. I was enjoying it, but not super loving it. All that changed when they went on a QUEST. Yes that’s right, it turned into my favourite type of book!! Yayyyyyyy! I *adore* quest books. No idea why. And every page after they went on the quest was brilliant and wonderful. I especially loved the way the fairytales woven into the story and led them onwards. And the moment between Jade, Wren and Koichi just before they leave Ming’s. I think it was very cleverly done :) I did enjoy the book before the quest - especially getting to see who Xifeng had become, and how life had changed in the years since Forest occurred. I think that was the bit hardest for me - so much time had passed in the book universe, there was a lot to remember and catch up on. But totally worth it. I like that Xifeng was still dark and scary, even more so really, given everything we learn. I also really liked how her tale played out. This book is an excellent counterpart to its dark and sinister sister, by keeping some of those parts, but also letting the light seep through. I challenge you to read it and not finish with a smile on your face. 4.5 stars.

  22. 4 out of 5

    anna (readingpeaches)

    I MISS MY POWER-HUNGRY DAUGHTER XIFENG SO MUCH !!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    “Bravery isn't just about being strong and handy with a sword. Sometimes it's about resolve...or deciding whether to face a past you'd rather forgot.” 2.5 stars. Although I enjoyed Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix , I can't help but be a little disappointed with it. Perhaps its because the first book was so freaking good , but this book just pales in comparison in every single aspect: plot, writing, characters, and more. Yes, it was compelling enough for me to keep flipping pages but it just “Bravery isn't just about being strong and handy with a sword. Sometimes it's about resolve...or deciding whether to face a past you'd rather forgot.” 2.5 stars. Although I enjoyed Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix , I can't help but be a little disappointed with it. Perhaps its because the first book was so freaking good , but this book just pales in comparison in every single aspect: plot, writing, characters, and more. Yes, it was compelling enough for me to keep flipping pages but it just wasn't as gripping as Forest of a Thousand Lanterns . While I can definitely appreciate the fact that this is more of your archetypal "hero's journey" story, I find that I now prefer more unorthodox story structures (with a few notable exceptions). Which is one of the reasons this book just missed the mark for me. For the first few 100 pages, I was excited. Julie C. Dao clearly has worked on her pacing and it shows: it took far less time than in the previous book to get to the castle. Once we were in it though, is one of the best parts of the book. I was so excited for the political upheaval, the political intrigue, and the maneuvering done by Xifeng and Jade to outwit each other . I loved that part of the book, as it was so interesting and reminiscent of the previous book. However, once we left the castle (which wow (view spoiler)[ the escape was also AMAZING (hide spoiler)] ) the story went downhill. In addition, some of the plot twists in this book were so transparent after having read the first book: maybe they were meant to be and supposed to accentuate the story, but in my opinion it sucked some of the mystery out of it . In addition, it seems the writing in this book wasn't as good as it was in the last book. It seems that at the expense of a more fast-paced story, gone are the amazing, quotable lines and passages from the previous book. I cannot think of a single quotable line, apart from the above. The writing is still beautiful but it does not quite reach the heights that it did in the previous book. Dao's descriptions are still on-point, but it seems that the prose as a whole isn't as good as it could be. . Now for the characters. Jade, our main protagonist, isn't the worst protagonist but she sure isn't the most compelling. She's the Snow White to Xifeng's Evil Queen: she's just barely not as bland as her fairy tale counterpart . Jade has been put in hiding far away from the castle, and initially wants nothing but to rest there away from the rest of the world. She does rise to the occasion multiple times throughout this book, but remains pretty bland. Her characterization isn't quite generic, but she remains just too tame and good to break out of the YA heroine mold. There was hints of an Alina-Darkling dynamic between her and Xifeng, but it was left unexplored and underdeveloped. The supporting characters were all kind of flat and unlike Xifeng, Jade isn't enough to keep this story afloat by herself . Also the unnecessary romance? I really didn't care one bit for Jade and (view spoiler)[ Koichi (hide spoiler)] . There relationship was so uninteresting and seemed kind of forced. Hell, (view spoiler)[ Fu, a ghost, and Wei (under an alias I don't remember) HAD MORE CHEMISTRY. I WAS ROBBED. THEY WERE SO CLEARLY IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER, DON'T @ ME. (hide spoiler)] . Which is why, (view spoiler)[ the ending with "true's love kiss" blablabla was so bad . I understand that is a fairy tale retelling, but in order for me to be okay with a kiss revival I need to actually find the romance believable. (hide spoiler)] . Overall, read if you're dying to find out what happens with some of the plot threads at the end of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns . But if you're satisfied with the way book 1 ended, I'd say you can safely skip on this one.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Yun

    Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is the sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and I've been eagerly anticipating it ever since I finished the first book last year. The sequel switches gears and focuses on Jade (east Asian Snow White, reimagined), who is destined to overthrow her evil stepmother Xifeng and save the kingdom. We follow her as she learns of her destiny and sets out on a series of adventures and tasks that will help her achieve her goals. Many people mentioned they are disappointed Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is the sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and I've been eagerly anticipating it ever since I finished the first book last year. The sequel switches gears and focuses on Jade (east Asian Snow White, reimagined), who is destined to overthrow her evil stepmother Xifeng and save the kingdom. We follow her as she learns of her destiny and sets out on a series of adventures and tasks that will help her achieve her goals. Many people mentioned they are disappointed with Jade because Xifeng was such an riveting evil heroine in the first book, while Jade pales in comparison as a goody two shoes who can do no wrong. I agree that just based on the main hero of the books, the first one was more interesting, yet I found this sequel to be no less compelling. Dao took some small parts from the classic fairy tale, and weaved a whole world around it, fleshing it out and really making this story her own. There are so many unique and imaginative parts to it that it just sucked me right in. The quest that Jade undertakes to journey through the lands of her kingdom and find the five relics of the gods makes the book feel epic, all culminating in the final fight that determines whether good or evil will triumph. I've been trying to put my finger on exactly what it is about this duology that is so fun, and in the end, I think it's my enjoyment of the characters and how entertaining the plot is. Dao has a real knack for crafting likable characters I can sympathize with and cheer for, whether they be good or bad. And she has shown a skillful ability to weave a tale that is complex and riveting. This duology is Dao's first books, and I look forward to reading more from her.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ella ✨

    I loved this book so much more than Forest of a Thousand Lanterns - I was a little iffy about picking it up but I’m so glad I did! The relationship between Jade, Wren and Koichi was so lovely and I’m so glad there was a strong friendship between them 🙈

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5 stars | blog review "A woman who can think for herself delves beneath the surface. Pulling out the threads of another's story and applying them to your own life is the mark of a queen." I loved this book wow. The only reason I could rate this book lower is because there wasn't enough of it and it ended too soon. I'm SHOOK. This book is like a call-out post for all the problems I have for mainstream YA fantasy. Julie brought her A-game here! And I was living for it! 1.  Jade is so honorable. Thi 4.5 stars | blog review "A woman who can think for herself delves beneath the surface. Pulling out the threads of another's story and applying them to your own life is the mark of a queen." I loved this book wow. The only reason I could rate this book lower is because there wasn't enough of it and it ended too soon. I'm SHOOK. This book is like a call-out post for all the problems I have for mainstream YA fantasy. Julie brought her A-game here! And I was living for it! 1.  Jade is so honorable. This is some God-tier levels of E. Asian honor at play. Goody-good characters can indeed be GOOD, INTERESTING, AND COMPLEX characters, y'all. When people say it ain't so, it's like they're saying Superman is boring because he's good lol way to erase nuance. There are ways it can be done, and Julie Dao has done it and done it well. Jade might be in the running for best girl of 2018 for me. Jade is a fucking boss at being an ally to other women (unlike Xifeng). Even when the Crimson warriors are like "we're down for murder and that's our income and we wanna get justice and deal death to those who deserve it," Jade is like "I don't presume to judge you." It's true, the Crimson warriors are doing good in their eyes. They give women refuge in a world that rarely gives them opportunities to rise from being victims of abuse. I love that they accept all sorts of women, but not everyone would find them dealing out justice on their terms and only their terms palatable because of how easily Motives for Murder Can Go Awry. What I love about what Julie has done here is that she has Jade recognize that the Crimson warriors are women who need to take back power for themselves. At the same time Jade doesn't have to agree with the methods because her experience as a woman is not universal, so who is she to judge? It's a better exploration of female allyship than "it's feminist because girls can murder people too" which is so often done in YA fantasy I just want to choke. (To clarify, my issue is with HOW female allyship and feminism is written not that it is written in the first place.) Jade is essentially like "My name is Inigo Montoya. You're killing my father. Prepare to die" at Xifeng in the beginning. Jade cares™ so much about her people. This book is all about telling us that getting the crown doesn't mean squat if you're just going to put the kingdom through the same old BS but with a fake-woke coat of paint on top to make it look new. I love that Jade embodied this so well because I'm just *tired* af of incompetent teens running kingdoms into the ground in YA like... this girl Jade gets it. She hires advisors, funds infrastructure and maintains and starts new cultural traditions to usher peace and good relations with the neighboring countries, which are now all independent because she's not about the Empress life. 2.  The love interest, Koichi, has dwarfism and Jade is like if you ever talk badly about yourself I'll mess with your shoes. The romance was very minimal in the book, but Koichi and Jade are too darling I can't help but like them. Both Koichi and his dad have dwarfism, and they're handshum and charismatic characters. I don't often see dwarfism being discussed in books, and this is probably the first time I've seen it in YA. 3. All the fairytales, especially the Weaver and the Cowherd reference in the Crane Cloak quest. I kept notes of what the fairytales included were and also the relics and moral lessons related to them. The fairytales feel very familiar, though I'm not 100% what inspirations for them are besides the Weaver and the Cowherd and it might very well be that some are just original tales Julie came up with some established tales blended in. Other pros: - A Wei redemption I didn't know I wanted. - Amah had every opportunity to trash talk Xifeng and she took all of them. - An Accurate Example of the Badass Asian grandma in action. -Accurate depictions of how BOSS Asian women can be and calls ppl tf out for thinking theyre frail and helpless in text. - Julie definitely saw Princess Mononoke and got inspiration for this. Since Princess Mononoke is my fave Ghibli movie, I approve of the creative choices in this book. Cons: 1. It was just so short aks;dfajkl. I wish we had more time in this world to explore the different countries and learn more about the lore. Also there was not enough Crimson warrior women content. I'm they came back in this installment, but I had expected the warriors to be more present throughout. This is a rare instance where stretching the plot out into more books would be beneficial in a YA fantasy. There's just so much left unexplored. 2. The last-minute Xifeng character development - mostly because we were on a time crunch. Tbh I was always confused as to how much free will XF had. In the end I think she boiled down to a fake-woke mouth piece for the Serpent God, even if her actions were her own - they still fed into his BS. And when XF was called out for it all she could do was cry and say "I wanted to choose you Wei" when she was like "bye, Wei" in the last book. LOL ok. 3. The lack of breathing room in between Jade finding each relic. I'm thankful they glossed over the days where nothing happened, but the pacing felt very reminicscent of Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix, which was very much an adventure book too, since one scene would have a rise in tension and never let us get back to neutral with how often it threw in plot development. Nitpick: Similar problem to my nitpick with Guma's name. Some characters refer to Amah as "Amah" when she is indeed NOT THEIR AMAH. Amah isn't her name, like how Guma shouldn't have been Guma's name. It would be more apt for someone who isn't the grandchild/ward of this Amah to refer to her as Jade/Wren's Amah, not simply Amah. At the same time I suppose adult characters could also play along with Jade and call her Amah "Amah" too because she's a child (teen, but like a child to the elders always). Overall, I honestly loved this WAY more than FOTL. It is essentially a direct response to XF's chicanery in book 1 with our cinnaroll Jade leading the way. I can see there being a split in the readership, with people who loved FOTL disliking Blazing Phoenix and people who disliked FOTL LOVING Blazing Phoenix. I'm in the latter category, but regardless I believe Julie has done an excellent job of treating her inspirations respectfully because I know there were *some* people (you know who you are) saying she couldn't write a Chinese-influenced world because she wasn't Chinese??? Keep that gatekeeping to yourself because it's not a cute look, boo. The themes in Blazing Phoenix are much stronger than in FOTL, and you can really see the growth in Julie's writing if you compare the two. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sasha Nanua

    Simply put, this is one of the best books I ever have ever had the pleasure of reading. And I do not say that lightly. This book was action-packed from its core, the quest was a non-stop questioning of Will she succeed/Won’t she succeed, and the characters were well-drawn. I am SO happy with this book, and here’s why. 1. It was a great follow-up to book 1. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns held all the markers of a villain origin story, and this book managed to hold up to that—and surpass it. It’s e Simply put, this is one of the best books I ever have ever had the pleasure of reading. And I do not say that lightly. This book was action-packed from its core, the quest was a non-stop questioning of Will she succeed/Won’t she succeed, and the characters were well-drawn. I am SO happy with this book, and here’s why. 1. It was a great follow-up to book 1. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns held all the markers of a villain origin story, and this book managed to hold up to that—and surpass it. It’s easy to think, What can get better than the origin story of the Evil Queen/Empress of Feng Lu? Well, this one can. Princess Jade’s story was filled with questions of her own identity, where she belongs, and how she can succeed on her quest. I was thrilled on every page, to the point where I needed to take a breather because it was just. That. Good. 2. The PLOT. This book had an amazing plot about finding the relics of the Dragon Lords, one which reminded me heavily of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry having to find the Horcruxes in order to defeat Voldemort). I was on the edge of my seat, waiting with bated breath to see what would happen next. 3. The characters. I wasn’t sure how Princess Jade would hold a candle to Xifeng, and yet her character was dynamic and with a purpose. She had her own tug-of-war with her emotions, and yet also knew that she could be both the down-home girl from the monastery as well as Princess of an empire. Overall, this book was an amazing follow-up to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and I can’t wait to see what Julie Dao writes next. I will be pre-ordering this one for sure, as everyone should! Thanks Penguin Teen Canada for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Rating: 5 stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Myka Kobb

    EDIT (4/9/18): LOOK AT THAT COVER LOOK AT THAT SYNOPSIS LOOK AT THAT FUCKING MASTERPIECE

  29. 4 out of 5

    Taasia (libraepaintspages)

    OMG I just realized who the Snow White character is. I realized the extent of my dumbness LMAOO

  30. 4 out of 5

    camillereads

    I'm rooting for you, Xifeng!

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