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  • the f/f pirate adventure of my dreams

    I loved this book SO much. It's so much more than a retelling of Treasure Island -- it's the pirate adventure I've been craving, with a delicious side of f/f romance, and a thorough grounding in Vietnamese and Chinese history and culture. I had planned to pass my copy along after reading it, but nope; keeping this one for sure. I was annoyed with Xiang for the first quarter of the novel because she was SO naive. And she missed some really, really obvious clues about who her mother actually was. It was almost like she didn't want to see, and so she didn't. But she grows SO much once she's left to sail with Anh. That was the best part of the novel for me - the slow passage of time as Xiang grows more confident, more capable, and freer with every task she sets her willing mind and hands to. She comes into herself aboard that ship, and it gives her the confidence and courage she needs to face the events of the latter half of the book. The romance was slow and subtle and hinted in the corners, and I loved it. It's my favorite kind of romance in fantasy novels. The closeness that comes with familiarity and time spent together. I would desperately love a series of Xiang and Anh's adventures. The ending was excellent, but it definitely left me wanting more. And really, that's the best kind.

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  • A Rollicking Adventure

    A Clash of Steel By C B Lee Review ‘’Once you’ve experienced ocean, nothing else is considered water. ‘’ -Yuan Zhen The last time I read Treasure Island, had to be when I was child, so my memories of it are all tinged in nostalgia, but the idea of a swash-buckling adventure on the high seas, a search for buried treasure and your very own motley crew will forever light up the eyes of children, and even adults. The story opens in a prologue, where we are given the perfect characterization of Anh, a natural born seafarer…even at eight, fearlessly climbing up the mast in a storm. She is everything one expects oneself to be charming, brave, athletic and whip-smart. Xiang, on the other hand, is a village girl, with a heart that longs for more than what the world expects of her. She thinks that escaping her village to go down river to the bustling Canton, will lead to her finding a place, and making her distant mother proud of her, but what she finds in the city, is not what she expects, and she once again questions her path, but this Anh is there to guide her and they set out for treasure, but find so much more! Likes -the prose. C. B. Lee’s writing in this novel is absolutely a masterclass. In my favorite chapter, when Xiang finally leaves her little village for the big city of Canton, I myself felt her anticipation as if it were my own, and when she takes in the sights, sounds and smells of Canton, I felt as if we were seeing it for the first time, together! The essence of a major port town was captured, seemingly effortlessly! ‘’The city is like a living, breathing entity filled with people from other lands, a million villages all at once clamoring together. ‘’ -the food! I got so hungry reading this! C B Lee’s descriptions of the market place of Canton and the melting pot of foods converging there, my mouth was watering! -Xiang and Anh bond because they’re so similar and I loved their first official meeting! Who doesn’t want a beautiful stranger to take their hand and take them on an adventure when they arrive at distant shores? -the setting! I’m not familiar with piracy in the South China Sea, and it is wonderful to learn about this often times not spoken about history! Dislikes: The only thing I disliked was that this is a standalone! I wanted to stay in the world of treasures and myths and magic a little longer. Would I recommend this? Absolutely! Please read this! 💕 Many thanks to bookishfirst for the review copy! 💕

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  • A Solid Read!

    I really liked this one! It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I still really liked it. I think the main thing I wanted from this was more pirates. The cover, the blurb, the first chapter, all of it promised pirates. I was so disappointed by how small of a part they played, they barely appeared at all. I did love the high-seas setting for this, it helped make up for the lack of pirates. I really liked our main character, Xiang. Her transformation over the course of this was immaculate, and I loved watching her find her independence. I wasn't a huge fan of her relationship with Anh, it felt a bit rushed, but I really liked her as a character. Although I did think this one was missing the emotional components I wanted (and pirates), I'll definitely be rereading it. The setting and culture was so rich, so I can't wait to dive in deeper on my reread! Thanks to BookishFirst for providing a free copy

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  • Bring on the treasure!

    I enjoy all the different versions of Treasure Island, from the original to Muppet Treasure Island and Treasure Planet. This is a worthy addition to the retellings of Treasure Island! I like how it takes place in Asia too and has added in the famous woman pirate Zheng Yi Sao. She deserves a chance to be in the spotlight since she was such a successful pirate. I also like how this book has a section at the end to relay more information about the real life version of Zheng Yi Sao. Now, I know most of the story is about Xiang (and Anh) and that was really good too. I do wish there had been more from Anh's point of view but Xiang was an interesting character and it was cool to go along with her on her adventures as she figured out what she wanted with her life, and to find the treasure of the Dragon Fleet of course. I enjoyed her short time in Canton too, and seeing all the variety of people living there, and the food. It made me want to try the cuisine! A good, solid book, a bit predictable and not as much action as there could be with pirates but enjoyable for me nonetheless!

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  • amazing

    So this book was QUITE THE READ, to say the least. Of all the "Treasure Island" type retellings that I have read, this one is definitely, by far, my favorite. With queer representation that is so beautiful and feels so natural, while still giving you the tension and fulfilling those love story tropes we all crave, I really admired the relationship between Xiang and Anh. At the very start, I began thinking that the pacing was slow but it picked up speed quickly and in a way that was dynamic and thoroughly engaging. I really was excited by the writing style and loved the way the plot unfolded gracefully, making you fall in love with story, character, and setting. The found family element of this story melted my heart. This is something that I find so endearing in books and it was so lovely to have in A Clash of Steel. And finally, as a history teacher, I loved getting that glimpse into the story of Zheng Yi Sao/Ching Shih! What an absolute thrill!

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