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Author: Cindy Pon

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Audio Review: Serpentine by Cindy Pon

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Serpentine by Cindy PonSerpentine by Cindy Pon
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Series: ,
Published by Audible Studios on 29 December 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Asian Mythology, Death & Dying, Demons, Epic Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Friendship, Ghosts & the Undead, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, People & Places, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 7 hrs and 54 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Also by this author: Silver Phoenix, Fury of the Phoenix, Blue Skies

Place(s) Traveled To: Kingdom of Xia

First Line(s): The mountain was still shrouded in mist.

SERPENTINE by Cindy Pon was one of my most anticipated reads for 2015 as I adored her two other books SILVER PHOENIX (my review) and FURY OF THE PHOENIX (my review). As such I think that I fell victim to my own hype. SERPENTINE is set in the same world as the PHOENIX books but its a whole new story with a whole new cast of characters and can be read completely separate from the first books. The biggest difference between the two series is that Skybright is no Ai Ling. I adored Ai Ling so and I think part of me kept hoping that Sky would be a lot like her. This was a totally unfair comparison to make but I couldn’t seem to stop myself from doing so.

Perhaps part of my issues with SERPENTINE was the fact that I listened to it on audio. The narrator, Emily Woo Zeller, is a very good narrator but she read slowly. Which made the book progress slowly for me. I didn’t have that burning need to stay in the car as I’ve had with some audios as there wasn’t a whole ton of action going on or urgency in the narration. Where I was so super grateful to the audiobook version of SERPENTINE was with pronunciations. There is just so much that I would have totally bungled if left to my own reading devices.

Serpentine Quote

SERPENTINE is filled with rich details and mythology and I really wanted to love it but there was just something about the story that didn’t connect with me. Despite all the detail I’m not entirely sure that I got the whole story and felt a bit lost at times with what was happening the world. Or why I should care about these various characters. This could also be a result of the slow narration where I can’t say with 100% certainty that I didn’t zone out during my listen. Zeller has such a soothing and even toned voice that I found it to be quite relaxing.

Even though I didn’t love SERPENTINE I am still curious to see where things are going. I want to learn more about Sky’s origins and what the deal with with Stone. I want her to find her HEA with Kai-Son and for Zhen Ji to find her happiness as well. SERPENTINE is an interesting read and I think there is a lot of potential to the world and the characters. I just need to make sure that I am in the right mind frame for its sequel and to loosen up my expectations because SERPENTINE is its own book and story and I need to separate it from the PHOENIX books.



IR - Serpentine

Add The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi to Goodreads.

Add Hunter by Mercedes Lackey to Goodreads.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Diverse Energies – Blue Skies by Cindy Pon

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Short Story Saturday, Young Adult0 Comments

Short Story Saturday: Diverse Energies - Blue Skies by Cindy Pon

Short Story Saturday: Diverse Energies – Blue Skies by Cindy PonBlue Skies by Cindy Pon
Series: Diverse Energies,
Also in this series: The Last Day, Freshee's Fogurt, Pattern Recognition , Gods of the Dimming Light , Next Door, Good Girl, Pocket Full of Dharma, What Arms to Hold Us, Solitude, Diverse Energies
Published by Tu Books on 01 November 2012
Genres: Abduction, Anthology, Dystopian, Health & Daily Living, People & Places, People of Color, Sci-Fi, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 26
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible
Also by this author: Silver Phoenix, Fury of the Phoenix, Serpentine


Short Story Saturday is a feature here at Ticket to Anywhere where I start to read some of the various anthologies I have, one story at a time. Starting with Diverse Energies which the book synopsis describes as  “In this stunning collection of original and rediscovered stories of tragedy and hope, the stars are a diverse group of students, street kids, good girls, kidnappers, and child laborers pitted against their environments, their governments, differing cultures, and sometimes one another as they seek answers in their dystopian worlds. Take a journey through time from a nuclear nightmare of the past to society’s far future beyond Earth with these eleven stories by masters of speculative fiction. Includes stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ursula K. Le Guin, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Daniel H. Wilson, and more.”

Place(s) Traveled To: Taipei, Taiwan // Yang Ming Shan Mountain, Taiwan

First Line(s): I watched the two you girls from the corner of my eye as the crowds surged around me.

Blue Skies by Cindy Pon is another installment in the Diverse Energies anthology and takes place in a futuristic Taiwan where the world is falling apart as a result of pollution. The skies are no longer blue and the people are divided into the haves (you) and the have nots (yao). The story is a quick read and told from an unnamed male character who you just want to know more about. He’s a teenager that is wise beyond his years, thanks to the world he has grown up in, and is filled with a sense of purpose and mystery. Blue Skies is over before you want it to be and I really hope that one day Pon will go back and expand this story as there is so much potential for it. There is the bad boy and the potential love interest. The mystery of how the world became how it is and the rush and desire to fix all that is wrong and make the world perfect again. Or as perfect as can be when there are still pesky humans about to muck things up. So far, Blue Skies, is among my favorites in the Diverse Energies anthology and worth checking out.



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

Posted by Irish in Top Ten Tuesday7 Comments

Graphic is not mine, found via an image search on Google, if you know source LMK and I will link

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and today’s topic is all about the authors we love and feel don’t get enough recognition. This is both an easy post to write and a difficult one.

1. Cindy Pon, author of the Kingdom of Xia series – Silver Phoenix (my review) and Fury of the Phoenix (my review).

Fantasy series set in a world that is based on ancient China. The heroine is smart and kick ass and cute Asian boys abound. Also, Pon does the impossible and makes me like and sympathize with the very evil bad guy! This is such a rich, well written world and I wish there were more books set inside it.

2. Sarwat Chadda, author of the Billie SanGreal series – The Devil’s Kiss (my review) and Dark Goddess (my review)

Speaking of kick ass heroines you can’t get much more kick ass than Billie SanGreal who is a girl Templar. Yes, THOSE Templars. She’s snarky and makes mistakes and deals with the consequences. There are cute boys (both good and evil) and a little romance but its Billie and the battles she fights that really make these books.

3. Chantel Acevedo, author of Song of the Red Cloak (my review)

This is one of the first self-published books that I ever read and boy was I super glad that I did. Set in ancient Greece and deals with Spartans, mistaken identity, and some magic. I read this book in its entirety on the train from  Boston to NYC and felt such loss when it came to an end and I had to leave the world.

4. Susan Ee, author of Angelfall (my review) and World After (ETA: 19 Nov 2013)

Another book that I almost skipped because it was self-published. Its because of Ee and Acevedo that I am willing to read Indie publishers because their books were so good. Ee’s post-apocalyptic world is scarily real and I love her take on Angels. These Angels are terrifying and I loved every minute of the book. I’m eagerly awaiting November when I can finally see what happens next!

5. Kim Harrington, author of Clarity (my review), Perception (my review), and The Dead and Buried (my review)

I have a love of mysteries and so rarely am I stumped but Kim managed to do so in Clarity, at least partially. Her heroines and filled with snark and smarts and I really want more books featuring Clare Fern! These books help fill the gap that is missing since Veronica Mars was cancelled.

6. Chelsea Campbell, author of The Rise of Renegade X (my review)

Superheroes and Villains? Seriously, what is not to love? This book is well written and so fresh and unique that I don’t understand why it fell below the radar. Its filled with snark and mystery and the hero (or is he a villain?) is so filled with internal conflict that makes it so easy to connect with him.

7. Cath Crowley, author of A Little Wanting Song (my review) and Graffiti Moon (my review)

One of those amazing Aussie writers that has made its way to the world of US publishing. The stories that Crowley creates are absolutely amazing. So well written and such real characters and these are stories which stuck with me long after I finished reading them.

8. Swati Avasthi, author of Split (my review) and Chasing Shadows (ETA: 06 Aug 2013)

Split was such a heart-wrenching well written story that will just blow you away. Its such strong writing and defies the stereotype that abusive homes are only for the poor and uneducated. Its a book with poor choices and conflict as well as hope and consequences. I am so glad that soon there will be another Avasthi book in the world and I can’t wait to read it!

9. Rhiannon Hart, author of Blood Song (my review) and Blood Storm (need to read)

I fell so hard for Hart’s writing in Blood Song and begged and pleaded with a friend in Australia to send me book 2 the moment it was released. He did and I have been afraid to read it ever since. Not because I fear it will be bad, because I know it won’t, because the 3rd book isn’t available and I am not ready for that long torturous wait.

10. Kristy Eager, author of Raw Blue (my review)

Such an amazingly well-written character driven story! I read this book in a single sitting and even after it was over it stayed with me. This is new adult before new adult was a thing and totally how new adult should be. Its about a girl who is 19 and who elected to not go to college to deal (or avoid dealing as the case may be) with her demons and to indulge in her love of surfing. I’ve read this book several times over since my first read and it never gets less heart-wrenching.

There are so many other authors that I could feature here and I hate that I can’t list them all. But these are very near and dear to my heart and I think that everyone should read them. So if you haven’t done so yet then what are you waiting for?!? You are missing out on some seriously amazing reads.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Review, Young Adult5 Comments

Review: Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy PonFury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Series: The Kingdom of Xia, Book 2
Also in this series: Silver Phoenix
Published by Greenwillow Books on 29 April 2011
Genres: Asian Mythology, Fantasy, Girls & Women, Mystery & Detective, People & Places, People of Color, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Gift
Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Silver Phoenix, Blue Skies, Serpentine

Place(s) Traveled to: The Kingdom of Xia (based on ancient China) // Jian

First Line: Chen Yong was already on board the ship.

If I had only one word to describe Cindy Pon’s Fury of the Phoenix it would be love. I loved this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it initially as Cindy kept saying how different it was from Silver Phoenix. I was a little worried at this at first because I really loved how Silver Phoenix was told. But from the moment I started Fury of the Phoenix I knew my fears where unfounded as this book not only met my expectations but exceeded them. Fury is different as it has two central stories to it there is the present journey of Chen Yong and Ai Ling to country Jian and there is the story that takes place in the past with Zhong Ye and Silver Phoenix.That’s right the villain of the first book is back and OMG so very different then he was before. In Silver Phoenix, Zhong Ye is this evil magician who believes that Ai Ling is his lost love – the reincarnated Silver Phoenix. In Fury, you get to learn the origins of the love between Zhong Ye and Silver Phoenix and let me tell you its a beautiful story. When Fury first started to travel into the past I thought Zhong Ye? He is evil there is no way that I could like him. There’s no way that I could like these bits of the book that are about him. How dare Cindy take time away from Chen Yong and Ai Ling for him!

But readers…I was wrong. So very wrong. I loved every moment with Zhong Ye and Silver Phoenix as I did with Chen Yong and Ai Ling. In fact I became so engrossed in each segment that I hated hated hated when Cindy would move back to the other couple. There was several times when I literally asked my book…”we’re moving on already? But…but….no!!” Each story is so engrossing that I could live in them forever and be quite content.

The tension between Chen Young and Ai Ling is palpable and they remain two of my favorite book characters. Ai Ling is a strong, intelligent heroine and Chen Yong accepts that she’ll never be a traditional girl. While sometimes her independents does go against his protective grain he still supports her and helps her become more than she was before. Just as Ai Ling does with Chen Yong. With Zhong Ye and Silver Phoenix’s story there really isn’t much tension. Their story is slower and more like Spring breeze in that its gentle and all about beginnings and growth. Chen Yong and Ai Ling try to deny their attraction, but necessity’s sake they have to pretend they are brother and sister and so they are each like polar ends of a magnet that are pushing against each other. So their story isn’t as calm but it still has the sense of expectation to it.

And now I’ve reached the part in the review where I am just a rambling babbling mess trying so hard to find all the right words to convey my love for this book. To try to find the right phrase that will make you want to rush out and buy this book. But there really are no words as there are just so many thoughts running amuck in my head. Just know that Cindy Pon is an amazing writer with a real gift for prose. She has a way of weaving a world around you that you think that you are in the Kingdom of Xia as the real world just fades away as you read her words. There is action and adventure and fantasy and romance and just a little bit of everything that I love to see in a book. My brain was engaged and there were plenty of heart achy moments to keep me turning pages. This is one that I highly recommend…so go get it, read it and then come back here and tell me what you thought.

Related Posts: Cindy’s Top 10 YA Fantasy List



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult9 Comments

Review: Silver Phoenix by Cindy PonSilver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Series: The Kingdom of Xia,
Also in this series: Fury of the Phoenix
Published by Greenwillow Books on 28 April 2009
Genres: Action & Adventure, Asian Mythology, Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy, Girls & Women, People & Places, People of Color, Young Adult
Pages: 338
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Fury of the Phoenix, Blue Skies, Serpentine

Place(s) Traveled to: The Kingdom of Xia (based on ancient China)

First Line: The eunuchs said the windows were ceiling height to allow the concubines their privacy, but Jin Lian knew it was also a way to keep them trapped.

I first heard about Silver Phoenix on Twitter right before it was released but even if I hadn’t I’d have instantly been drawn to the cover in stores. The cover on the hardcover is absolutely GORGEOUS and I bought it the day it was released. I had every intention of reading it shortly thereafter as well but fates conspired against me and it sat on my shelf, neglected, along with so many others. Then recently on Twitter I was struggling through a book and saying how I’d need something really good to read afterwards. I don’t recall the exact way things feel out but in the end PoseySessions was betting me $5 if I could finish Silver Phoenix up by the end of the weekend. (This all happened on a Thursday I believe.) Not one to walk away from a challenge I accepted. I then despaired that I would do it as it took until Saturday to finish the book I was reading and I had a family even more of that day.

I despaired about being able to finish as the beginning of Silver Phoenix was a little slow. The prologue had me a bit confused (I’m slow sometimes) as I was immediately thrust into this foreign world. From there we jump forward 19 years (or so) and I have to readjust on what I think I know. In Chapter 1, we meet Ai Ling the heroine who is being sent off to potential betrothal meetings as all good Chinese girls in this time are destined for marriage and a life behind walls. But Ai Ling’s family is tainted with a bit of scandal and she is a bit too tall and she struggles to fulfill her duty and remains unwed. When her father disappears, Ai Ling does a very brave and unusual thing and decides to set off in search of him. It helps that Ai Ling isn’t your ordinary girl but she has special gifts that she’s only just begun to understand.

From the moment Ai Ling leaves the sheltered walls of her home the book really pick up in pace. It becomes this action packed roller coaster and I found it hard to catch my breath. Around every corner there is peril and beasties that are trying to kill Ai Ling. Some of who might have succeeded if it wasn’t for Chen Yong and his brother Li Rong. I LOVED the interaction between Chen Yong and Li Rong as well as that between Li Rong and Ai Ling. Li Rong is witty and fun and just makes a person laugh. Which is great because Chen Yong is just way to serious for his own good. Granted he has his reasons for holding himself aloof from the world but there is just this naturalness about Li Rong that makes you instantly like him. Based on characters alone Silver Phoenix was a win.

But even great characters need a good plot and Silver Phoenix has that in spades. Its a bit supernatural and a bit mystery with wonderful undertones of friendship mixed with a dash of romantic tension. I became so invested in this story that I lost track of the world around me and essentially devoured this book in just a few hours. This is such a rarity for me these days as I’m easily distracted by modern technology and the telly. Ai Ling is such a strong character and she kept facing all these creatures that I couldn’t stop turning pages to learn why it all was. Throughout the book Pon leaves little breadcrumbs and hints as to what is to come but never enough to make the story predictable. Can you guess the outcome of the book, yes, or at least I could for the most part. But Silver Phoenix isn’t really about the how it ends but the journey to get there.

I have to admit my readings of books based in China (even loosely as this one is) so I don’t know a ton about the rituals and culture. Cindy Pon does a great job of weaving in all the histories and expectations of the time without bogging the story down in details. So you can learn without realizing that you are learning something. I loved the history and how Pon wove in the various myths and legends from the east in a really seamless way. While reading the book it all felt real and I was able to push reality aside and imagine myself in Ai Ling’s world. Although one tradition I’m glad Pon didn’t explore was footbinding….ouch! I read one book (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) a few years back that had long descriptions of the process and my feet STILL ache.

My one regret is that it took me so long to read Silver Phoenix. Although a small part of me is glad because now I have only a short time to wait until its sequel, Fury of the Phoenix, is available. I am DYING to get my hands on this book. I need more of Ai Ling and Chen Yong as I did not like how Pon left things at the end of Silver Phoenix. Not that it was a bad ending, because it wasn’t. It was a very good ending and perfect for the story. But for me it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t ready to leave their story so I am glad that it will be continuing on in another book. You can be sure that as soon as I get my hands on a copy that I will be reading it! Just as I strongly suggest for all of you to run out and grab a copy of Silver Phoenix and read it. Its well worth the time especially for all of you out there who love mythological based stories. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this one. I know I wasn’t.

Related Posts: Fragment Friday // Book Trailer Monday