Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon
When a powerful viceroy arrives with a fleet of mechanical dragons and stops an attack on Anlei’s village, the villagers see him as a godsend. They agree to give him their sacred, enchanted River Pearl in exchange for permanent protection—if he’ll marry one of the village girls to solidify the alliance. Anlei is appalled when the viceroy selects her as a bride, but with the fate of her people at stake, she sees no choice but to consent. Anlei’s noble plans are sent into a tailspin, however, when a young thief steals the River Pearl for himself.Knowing the viceroy won’t protect her village without the jewel, she takes matters into her own hands. But once she catches the thief, she discovers he needs the pearl just as much as she does. The two embark on an epic quest across the land and into the Courts of Hell, taking Anlei on a journey that reveals more is at stake than she could have ever imagined.With incredibly vivid world building and fast-paced storytelling, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is great for readers who are looking for something fresh in epic fantasy.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon Details

TitleStronger Than a Bronze Dragon
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 11th, 2019
PublisherPage Street Kids
ISBN-139781624147333
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, Young Adult Fantasy, Science Fiction, Steampunk

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon Review

  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsStronger than a Bronze Dragon features an acrobat warrior girl named Anlei. Her village has been mercilessly attacked by the Ligui, evil spirits, for years, while the emperor refuses to acknowledge their suffering or send aid. All this changes when Viceroy Kang save the village from another Ligui attack with his advanced mechanical dragons.But in exchange for the viceroy’s further protection, he wants the village’s magical River Pearl and one of the village girls as his bride—Anlei. But 3.5 starsStronger than a Bronze Dragon features an acrobat warrior girl named Anlei. Her village has been mercilessly attacked by the Ligui, evil spirits, for years, while the emperor refuses to acknowledge their suffering or send aid. All this changes when Viceroy Kang save the village from another Ligui attack with his advanced mechanical dragons.But in exchange for the viceroy’s further protection, he wants the village’s magical River Pearl and one of the village girls as his bride—Anlei. But when the River Pearl is stolen, Anlei decides to go after the thief and finds herself on a journey full of more adventures than she predicted. From battling demons in the Courts of Hell to unraveling the mysteries surrounding the pure-spirited Yueshen’s disappearance, this book is full of delightful twists and turns. My new title might be Lady, but even after they scrub me clean, paint my face, and clothe me in silk, I’ll still be little more than a slave. I really loved Anlei’s character, because I feel like she was complex and so wholly human. She made selfless sacrifices for the safety of her loved ones, but she also admits multiple times that some of her actions are for her own glory. I personally loved seeing such an ambitious main character be unashamed of that ambition, especially as an Asian girl, and while I may not have completely loved her as a person, I enjoyed her so much as a character, if that makes sense.Her development and growth were also really nice to read, as well as her conflict between wanting to save her village but also find a way to preserve herself. Marrying the viceroy felt like imprisoning herself, but she believes she’s willing to live in a way she hates in order to protect her people.On the other hand, I loved Tai, the thief of the River Pearl. He was super funny (and the banter between him and Anlei was so witty and fun), and I just thought he was such an interesting character, especially considering his identity and background. I definitely was invested in him and how his story would play out.These two characters truly enhanced the plot, which really stood out to me because it was packed with so much action and adventure and was therefore fun and enjoyable for me to read. I wouldn’t have cared about the plot, though, if I weren’t invested in the characters, and Mary Fan made sure that I was.I also really loved the plot twists that happened in this book! I honestly suck at guessing any kind of plot twist, so I really can’t say whether or not they were predictable, but my sister can tell you how shocked I was at some points, because I was reading the book in the car next to her and just gasped out loud.However, it was slightly disconcerting when one plot arc was completed halfway through the book, and then another started. They were connected of course, and while it didn’t flow perfectly, it wasn’t horribly disjointed. But it did feel really weird that a whole plot arc was done when you were only halfway through the book. Nothing can truly be fixed. Once broken, nothing will ever be as it was. I also think another component of the book that could have been improved was the development of the villain. They were very much the stereotypical evil character who wants power and doesn’t really have any particular motivation besides just wanting power. And this was pretty noticeable in the book, because there was a scene where the character could have been developed so much further, but wasn’t.Despite that, this book was still quite entertaining. I was very much in love with the steampunk + magic + supernatural fantasy mix, which was fresh and super well-done. In the book, there’s ghosts and spirits, but also automatons and mechanical creatures, but also dragons and Doctor Strange-like magic (I’m sorry I don’t know how else to describe it). Those things were definitely a highlight for me; it was so unique, and before this I had never seen a book with those particular fantasy aspects combined.The writing was also really easy to just devour, and it made for quick reading! I usually have trouble with epic fantasies, because I find them difficult to read most of the time, but this was pleasantly different and definitely not hard to read. And I actually didn’t hate the first-person point of view, which I usually do in fantasy (and in general but shh).There’s also romance, and it’s not a large part of the story for a good chunk of the book. You can tell that there’s going to be a romance (isn’t there always), but it’s definitely not too on-your-nose, which I really appreciated. I wasn’t in love with it, but I didn’t despise it, but I do think that the story might have been stronger if they’d remained friends. (It was just ruined for me a little when one of the characters said “I love you”, after they’d known each other for like. a few weeks maybe. Straights stop being so dramatic!!)I originally rated this book 4 stars, and ended up taking off half a star when I finished writing this review. I genuinely did enjoy the book overall, but when I started writing all my thoughts down, I realized I had a few more issues with it than I initially thought. But if you’re looking for a really enjoyable, unique fantasy with a lot of adventures and twists, I definitely recommend you pick this up!:: rep :: Chinese female MC with dyslexia, all-Chinese cast, brown side character:: content warnings :: parental death, torture, violence (fighting), imprisonment, deathThank you to Scholastic for sending me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinions in any way. All quotes were taken from an unfinished copy and may differ in final publication.
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  • Shealea
    January 1, 1970
    If you're a reader of diverse books and want to know what representations this book offers, find the diversity tags here. CHINESE-INSPIRED FANTASY WITH A REFRESHING TAKE ON WELL-LOVED TROPESFor the first few chapters, I found the characters to be a little too trope-y, namely, “tough cookie” female and arrogant love interest. However, as I continued reading, I began to see them in a new, more positive light. The little complexities in their characters, particularly their individual motivations an If you're a reader of diverse books and want to know what representations this book offers, find the diversity tags here. CHINESE-INSPIRED FANTASY WITH A REFRESHING TAKE ON WELL-LOVED TROPESFor the first few chapters, I found the characters to be a little too trope-y, namely, “tough cookie” female and arrogant love interest. However, as I continued reading, I began to see them in a new, more positive light. The little complexities in their characters, particularly their individual motivations and desires, allowed them to break out of their trope-y molds, which I really appreciated.INCREDIBLY UNIQUE WORLD-BUILDING & ENDLESSLY FASCINATING ELEMENTS (FT. MECHANICAL DRAGONS & ANGRY SWORD-WIELDING BRIDES)I am also extremely happy to note that Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is a brave and thoughtful commentary on poverty, privilege, social issues, and corruption. With a heroine hailing from a poor village that’s often overlooked by its government, this book portrays poverty in a nuanced way that leaves no room for romanticization or glamorization. More importantly, it depicts harsh truths that need to be addressed: the helplessness of poor communities (e.g. their inability to bite the hand that feeds them), literacy and education as inaccessible privileges, and how politics and the self-interests of those in power contribute to class oppression.Moreover, the story carefully delves into filial piety, tradition, duty and obligation – themes that are inherently significant to Chinese culture, as well as to some other Asian cultures. I particularly loved the strong family themes and the complexities that come with them.I don’t think I’m really exaggerating when I say that the steampunk and fantasy elements in this book totally blew me away, and I still haven’t fully recovered! Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon features pure spiritual beings (yueshen), cursed spirit abominations (ligui), demons from literal Hell, cyborg soldiers, and mechanical dragons – and I loved how these creatures were incorporated into this fantastical world. Absolutely brilliant is all I can say, to be honest.BRILLIANT SUBVERSION OF THE TRADITIONAL HERO’S JOURNEYAt its heart, the plot is about an unlikely hero embarking on a dangerous quest – in this case, literal Hell – for a noble cause. However, it’s also so much more than that. As a whole, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is a brilliantly written subversion of the traditional hero’s journey. It is a heartfelt ode to family and to valuing one’s roots (which are typical aspects of a hero’s journey), but it also sparks a thoughtful discourse regarding fighting in the name of nobility and pursuing a cause for the sake of glory. It follows the adventure a hero undergoes to singlehandedly save his loved ones, but it also depicts the necessity of overthrowing a powerful, corrupted system through collective efforts. Most importantly, it is about encouraging women to reclaim their stories and to lead their own adventures.RECOMMENDED!With a wildly imaginative world where steampunk technology and magic collide and a complex plot that will keep you guessing, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon certainly makes for a challenging read — but with that challenge comes a truly rewarding experience.4 stars* Read the rest of this review in my natural habitat!
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  • Ashlee » Library In The Country
    January 1, 1970
    Woot woot! Just got an ARC of this and I am thrilled! This cover is beautiful and the synopsis is SO GOOD.
  • Dani - Perspective of a Writer
    January 1, 1970
    Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...The BuzzDRAGONS!! Plus its set in an Asian world. And Mary Fan seems like a popular author. So when my favorite topics came up I knew I had to give it a go... And I have to say that it annoys me when a title and cover don't really relate to the story. The bronze dragons are incidental world building in the story, which was quite disappointing to me. And a bronze dragon didn't even figure into the story enough for anything or any one to be strong Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...The BuzzDRAGONS!! Plus its set in an Asian world. And Mary Fan seems like a popular author. So when my favorite topics came up I knew I had to give it a go... And I have to say that it annoys me when a title and cover don't really relate to the story. The bronze dragons are incidental world building in the story, which was quite disappointing to me. And a bronze dragon didn't even figure into the story enough for anything or any one to be stronger than it. The cover does give you a general feel for the Chinese story but could have been so much better...The PremiseStronger Than a Bronze Dragon is really about deadly martial ghosts. Not bronze dragons. Not magical pearls, though one is featured. Anlei wants to be a warrior like her dead father and is prepared to protect her village with the rest of the guards. A visiting viceroy, a powerful government official, sets her on a totally different path... Right into a thief who threatens the deal she's made. Tai has his own angst over his future but plans on doing something about it. How can Anlei pass up this opportunity to screw off before heading off into matrimony?!There is some really great foundation here in Qing-dynasty China. It's spun with fantasy and mythology without being too heavy handed about it. The quick thinking and the teamwork really wowed even though the pace was a mess. I appreciated the plot once it was revealed and even though the twists were a little over worked they were fun and gave the book a campy feel. So many popular little details were crammed into this one little standalone. Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon felt like a homage to Asian fantasy, steampunk, mythology, thieves, kickass warrior girls, birth secrets and Chinese culture.My ExperienceI absolutely adore steampunk worlds! And those writers who choose them for a setting typically love them as much as I do. Plus right?! Because they know just what to cram into the story to make it epic. Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon combines steampunk with a Qing-dynasty China. It's interesting but only has the most basic of steampunk details. In that way its quite disappointing. I did enjoy the twist to do with the bronze dragons and other war machines but the story wasn't really a steampunk read.And then there was the odd balance the world had, partially old-fashioned and partially modern. On one hand Anlei is being sent off to be married to save her village. On the other hand she's been allowed to train and fight the attacking spirits. The way the world viewed women didn't really have any rhyme or reason. It just randomly did whatever to suit what the story needed. Which is contrived. I did enjoy many details of the modern side of the world, like her sister, the machines, the acrobats, the dyslexia. And I found the old-fashioned plot points quite dull and predictable, even though I did like what mythology there was in the story.I really enjoyed Tai and Anlei's snark toward each other and how their partnership worked. But it also was like a speeding bullet. There were very few obstacles to the big plot points. And their relationship built too fast and was sort of instalove as a result. Hate to love has to have time for events to happen to shift each person's thinking about the other. They have to have bonding moments. This was too swift for that. And that is what Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon did to me. I would love some aspect of the story and HATE another. It made me feel quite conflicted about my rating. In the end I enjoyed the action and the snark even if the world building failed on some levels.Why Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon may hit all the right buttons for YOU?-Spirits!A fascinating supernatural being with a neat history.-Steampunk machines!Loved the battle at the end with all the war machines you could want.-Banter!The snark between our leads is quite cute.-Adventure!They cross a lot of ground and delve into all sorts of magical secrets.-Family!I happen to love when family is all embroiled in different ways.Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is a light and fun standalone! It's a homage to the things we love... Asian fantasy, steampunk, mythology, thieves, kickass warrior girls, birth secrets and Chinese culture. The twists may or may not surprise you but they will certainly take you on a reading journey you won't regret with its cute banter...⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ World BuildingC+ Cover & Title gradeThanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions.______________________You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. Read my special perspective under the typewriter on my reviews...Please like this review if you enjoyed it! *bow* *bow* It helps me out a ton!!
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  • Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always
    January 1, 1970
    i totally forgot every single dynasty i studied in chinese history class, but hello chinese warrior girls ♥♥♥
  • julianna ➹
    January 1, 1970
    HOLD THE HECK UP. WHEN DID THIS COVER REVEAL AND WHY DID MY ASIAN SIXTH SENSE NOT KICK IN
  • ♠️ TABI ♠️
    January 1, 1970
    I think I will forever be in love with Asian fantasy okayMaybe it's because there is just SO MUCH complicated history to pull inspiration from. Maybe it's because katanas always gave me heart-eyes as a wee child. Maybe it's because I first saw Mulan and thought "finally a girl I really connect with". Either way, pretty much anything Asian-centric or inspired usually has my entire heart and soul . And while this book didn't get the entirety of that from me like I had hoped, it got pretty close!! I think I will forever be in love with Asian fantasy okayMaybe it's because there is just SO MUCH complicated history to pull inspiration from. Maybe it's because katanas always gave me heart-eyes as a wee child. Maybe it's because I first saw Mulan and thought "finally a girl I really connect with". Either way, pretty much anything Asian-centric or inspired usually has my entire heart and soul . And while this book didn't get the entirety of that from me like I had hoped, it got pretty close!!B U TFor some reason I thought this was part of a series?? So when there came a point that I thought the book would be winding up for a cliffhanger finale, I kept getting confused by the end of one plot arc leading into another! Also, while this was intense and epic and like a classic Asian saga featuring much travel and monsters . . . it kinda felt a bit too long in some areas. I kept wanting a few scenes tightened (or possibly even skipped) as they kind of felt out-of-place in the overall story. It was these few pacing/plot issues that kept me from fully loving this book.Also there is a sad, sad lack of any food in here!! For some reason, the majority of the Asian fantasies I read usually have at least ONE lavishly described meal that I can drool over and dream of crisp roasted duck and ginger noodles . . . and then just face reality and hit up my local Chinese take-out for dumplings. So the lack of food descriptions, or really the lack of the characters actually EATING, during their long, crazy adventure made this feel a bit flat. Also, there is a great lack of bronze dragons, especially for a book that literally has them mentioned in the title . . .And now some bullet points because I am lazy and forgetful:- Anlei is fierce . . . but at some times I found her a little too fierce?? Lighten up, girl!- Tai was pretty much the right blend of suave and mysterious and sassy. Did I find this a bit cliche at times? Oh, yes. Did I really care? Nah, son.- I guess this is meant to be steampunk but all the mentions of mechanics seemed a bit awkward??- honestly the whole arranged marriage plot arc could have not existed cause it was weird- I am a little grumpy about plot decisions(view spoiler)[mkay just let me be salty a bit about the Yushuen/demons/halflings thing which honestly felt a bit forced and, I dunno, not good enough?? oh I love Tai and thought the reveal that he was a halfling was EPIC . . . but also still not enough??? maybe it's because he was so light-hearted most of the time and sassy instead of moody and super mysterious haha B U T also the thing about Kang revealed as his father?? Saith whaaaaaaat? Eh, it just felt like too much but also definitely not enough, either. PLease someone save me from craving such high quality material ahahahaha xD (hide spoiler)]- again about Anlei but I'm sorry but she was just always I'M TOUGH!! I CAN FIGHT!! I GOTTA DO REVENGE!! ANGST AND ANGER!! And so even though I super enjoyed her and Tai's banter as their relationship blossomed, it just really ended up feeling super cliche to me in an unenjoyable way . . .- okay I do really like the banter in here!!- also THE FIGHTING was epic- I wished there had been more dragons of all kinds And also some thoughts on Anlei & Tai : For some reason I kept getting like fanfic Zutara vibes from them, minus of course the heavier angst + bending. They were quirky enough that I did genuinely ship them. I loved their banter scenes. I enjoyed seeing how their relationship blossomed and grew into the final product. And while I kinda wished maaaaaybe there'd been some slightly steamy moments (I live for a very odd, specific type of sexual tension okay) it was still cute and light and thankfully didn't take over the plot.A N Y W A Y SEven though it felt like the author was trying too hard on many levels, this was still very good. It delivered what I wanted, which was an action-y Asian-inspired tale with some dragons, epic fight scenes, a decent adventure plot, a cutesy rivals-to-more romance, and magic to make me happy enough. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review
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  • Lili Marcus
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsThe Characters: Anlei is undoubtedly one of the most badass heroine I’ve ever encountered. She’s strong not just physically, she’s also strong-willed. She’s focus and really want to achieve what she’s trying to achieve not only for herself, but for her town and family. And by family, it includes avenging her father’s death because of the Ligui (the ghost monsters that antagonize them). I even forgive Anlei for her wishes for the Ligui to attack just so she can have her revenge. The girl 3.5 starsThe Characters: Anlei is undoubtedly one of the most badass heroine I’ve ever encountered. She’s strong not just physically, she’s also strong-willed. She’s focus and really want to achieve what she’s trying to achieve not only for herself, but for her town and family. And by family, it includes avenging her father’s death because of the Ligui (the ghost monsters that antagonize them). I even forgive Anlei for her wishes for the Ligui to attack just so she can have her revenge. The girl lost her father so that’s forgivable even though it’s a bit foolish because she knew they can’t really defeat their enemies. That’s why they needed help from Viceroy Kang.Speaking of Viceroy Kang, I can’t say much about him without giving away too much of the plot and maybe twists. All I can say is that he’s typical. I’ve read so much about him in other novels, only with different names and maybe different physical appearance but as a character, he’s too familiar. Tai, the young thief, though is more interesting. I instantly like Tai the moment he showed and got me interesting in the coming scenes with him and Anlei.Aside from these three, I applaud the Chinese warrior girls (including Anlei, of course) that really stood out in this novel. I think the author really did a good job at handling and showing all the badassness of her warriors. You know, without being over the top. It’s just perfect.WORLD: Duh? PERFECT. So vivid.The Plot and Writing: The plot is a big the reason of my 3-star rating, in a good way. This book is actually only 2 stars if I didn’t like the plot. This novel has without a doubt a very solid story. Like I can see the author pouring her everything and herself on plotting the whole thing. She made the complex easy to follow. Besides what’s not to like? Chinese rep, Mythology, Steampunk, dragons, ghost monsters- I love all of these stuff. But then I got a problem with the writing.Maybe you’re thinking, isn’t the plot a product of the writing? Yes it is. If it has a good plot then probably the writing is good. But what I’m saying is, all the elements of the plot is amazing and interesting. Like everything made me want to read the whole freakin’ book even at times I felt bored. And there were those times, I tell you. It’s because the way the story is told seems to be lacking something and I couldn’t figure out what it is at first.It was bugging me that something is wrong and I couldn’t let it go. So I read reviews on Goodreads and then found something from Amanda and it clicked. The writing is too clunky and it affected the building and the mood of the story. What does that mean? I’m no expert. I haven’t published anything. But as a reader, when we read, there’s this thing inside us that made us read till the end. Like we don’t want to put down the book because we don’t want that thing inside us subside. Call it what you want-excitement or whatever- but that thing is lacking in this book. It’s like in every scene, my emotion have to go back to zero and build up again only to start building again in the next scene. Of course there should be a breathing in the storytelling which is the purpose of ‘chapters’ but there should be something that’s embedded inside the reader so the excitement never dies even though we get to breathe after a chapter. So we keep reading and caring.This book lacks that element that supports the building of the whole story. Obviously, I’m not doing a great job at explaining this but I tried guys. It’s like so many little things have been cut out in the story that it didn’t get deep in my reader’s heart. It’s like the book only included the most important parts of the story, it cut out the parts that truly make a story comes alive. It has all the parts that a novel should have-from introduction to resolution and everything in between- but it’s lacking on building the connection to the reader. I don’t blame this to the author, let me clear that up. There are many factors that affected this in the editing. I’m pretty sure of that.Like I said in my one-sentence review, I read a book, I didn’t live in it. It is a book with a good, solid story but it wasn’t alive so the experience is not complete.Finally, THE ROMANCE: It is okay.I really hope this book is at least a duology and not a standalone. By the way guys, TAKE MY REVIEW WITH A GRAIN OF SALT. Kindly read this book and hopefully we can talk about your experience.I was provided a copy by the publisher/author via Netgalley. Thank you.
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  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars, rounded to four because dragonsAnlei's village is under attack from strange ghost monsters—and all seems well when the viceroy swoops in and saves them with his fleet of mechanical dragons. Until he demands the village's famed (and worthless) River Pearl as tribute—and one of the villagers to take as his bride. No one is more surprised than Anlei when he chooses her, and she's dragged to the province's capital to be wed. All bets are off, however, when a mysterious thief steals the Ri 3.5 stars, rounded to four because dragonsAnlei's village is under attack from strange ghost monsters—and all seems well when the viceroy swoops in and saves them with his fleet of mechanical dragons. Until he demands the village's famed (and worthless) River Pearl as tribute—and one of the villagers to take as his bride. No one is more surprised than Anlei when he chooses her, and she's dragged to the province's capital to be wed. All bets are off, however, when a mysterious thief steals the River Pearl. Anlei decides to save her village and capture the thief and the Pearl—except the thief has a good reason to steal it...Aside from the Chinese-based world, this is a pretty standard YA fare. Only the Chinese influenced world-building and the steampunk nature of automatons, mechanical dragons and flying ships distinguish this one from the scores of YA fantasies with painfully similar plots.This is literally the plot (spoilers removed): super special girl is special and Not Like Other Girls™️ because she is a warrior and wants to fight and be free from societal obligations placed on women. Her village is attack and she saves them, then is forced to marry the Powerful Man for ~reasons~. She goes on a quest, meets The Boi, and they have adventures and must save the entire world from Evil. There is a giant plot twist (view spoiler)[Where Bad Man is revealed to be Bad after all and behind everything wrong in the empire (hide spoiler)]. After about two weeks of knowing each other, girl and boi love each other fiercely and do anything to save each other. The end.Anlei is nothing special in terms of YA heroines. She's the best warrior on the planet, and a fantastic acrobat, despite never practicing either of these things on page. She also is dyslexic, which was an interesting twist, but I rolled my eyes because she used it to explain that she wasn't a simple-minded peasant, she just couldn't read because characters took extra concentration. Simple peasant girl basically told her noble-born love interest that she's not like the other people in her village. I put that poorly but it annoyed me. Also, her younger sister is a genius inventor.Tai is your generic YA love interest. Mysterious. Tragic background. Soft-hearted but also heroic. Very smart. Wields a staff. Obviously a prince of some sort. Did I mention the tragedy?There's also the Magical Black Character trope, so that was fun.And a powerful dude who wants to marry Anlei because she'd make a beautiful bride but...why? Like, literally. Why? Sure she's pretty and has spirit but his motivations for wanting to marry her just made no sense whatsoever. He pretty much spends the entire book twirling his mustache (I don't know if he actually has a mustache, but his queue or whatever).Anywho, these are all the negatives.The positives!That cover (and the title) are absolutely gorgeous.I did enjoy the plot quite a bit. I was entertained and engaged throughout, even if there was nothing too special (it went through beats rather methodically) going on. Being predictable doesn't mean bad. I did like the Asian steampunk part of it, and how these integrated with the plot and the world. I also liked the ghosts and spirits.Also, there's a good discussion throughout the book about the fate of women. In the story there is a legend of a famous Warrioress, who had many amazing adventures and was rewarded with marriage to a king and the end of her story. Anlei is worried that marriage will be the end to her own story, and is tired of the hero's journey—there are numerous parallels, as Tai is the one given the magical sword, it is Tai's quest she is joining, and Tai who will be the one remembered in legend for saving the people. (view spoiler)[While these are great points, I got a little whiplash at the end when Anlei goes from "oh ho ho I am the new Warrioress and my legend will be told down the generations!" to "oh, nbd, it's okay I'm forgotten in obscurity I just want to live my life" in the space of about twenty pages...particularly with her bitching about the fate of famous women (well made points, btw, so point to Anlei) throughout literally the entire book. It was very much the end of Ruin and Rising and...well, several other famous YA trilogies (hide spoiler)]Overall, this wasn't a ~great~ book but it wasn't bad, either. It was enjoyable, if laden with tropes (and wooden characters) that it couldn't quite overcome, and had an interesting concept with steampunk dragons and ghosts/spirit people. If you overlook the prerequisite forced twu wuv 4eva aspect, it's a solidly standard YA fantasy novel.I think if I had read this five years ago, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.I received this from NetGalley for an honest review.
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  • Russ Colchamiro
    January 1, 1970
    Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon, which is maybe the best book title ever, is another powerhouse from Mary Fan, one of the best YA authors out there today. This book's got romance, vivid descriptions, an amazing heroine, and some totally badass action sequences you won't soon forget. A great book from a great writer. Loved it.
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is a story that will leave you shouting from the rooftops. It's a story with a heroine you will fall in love with. She has a noble heart and a passionate sense of determination, even when it lands her squarely in trouble. There's a fire in her soul to do what's right, even when it's not acceptable. While, her journey imparts the importance of support, (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is a story that will leave you shouting from the rooftops. It's a story with a heroine you will fall in love with. She has a noble heart and a passionate sense of determination, even when it lands her squarely in trouble. There's a fire in her soul to do what's right, even when it's not acceptable. While, her journey imparts the importance of support, of trust and honesty, and of doing what's right especially when it's hard.full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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  • Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
    January 1, 1970
    Sounds promising, I love dragons so hopefully this delivers
  • Rain
    January 1, 1970
    WHAT I ENJOYED ABOUT THIS BOOK:• It's an Asian-inspired steampunk fantasy I haven't read many steampunk books but I really enjoyed this reading experience. Inspired from Qin-dynasty China, the world written by Mary Fan sits in between the modern and traditional era where mechanical dragons and arrange marriages coexist. The Asian-inspired setting really made my heart take flight because THIS IS THE CONTENT I SIGNED UP FOR. Stronger than a Bronze Dragon pays homage to Asian culture and I loved it WHAT I ENJOYED ABOUT THIS BOOK:• It's an Asian-inspired steampunk fantasy I haven't read many steampunk books but I really enjoyed this reading experience. Inspired from Qin-dynasty China, the world written by Mary Fan sits in between the modern and traditional era where mechanical dragons and arrange marriages coexist. The Asian-inspired setting really made my heart take flight because THIS IS THE CONTENT I SIGNED UP FOR. Stronger than a Bronze Dragon pays homage to Asian culture and I loved it so much for that. • This book is full of angstYes we've got snarky little cinnamon rolls in this book. Anlei, the protagonist, is a stabby village girl intent on seeking adventure. She wants to make name for herself as a warrioress who slays monsters and protects her village from all evil. I loved how she didn't shy away from the thrill of the fight. Her desire to claim glory for herself may not be likeable for some but I admire her for it. I felt really empowered while reading about Anlei. Somehow, I wanted to break off a table leg and wield it as a sword to fight mosquitoes and flying cockroaches. Well, they're a far cry from all the demons Anlei has vanquished but they're the only things my boring life can offer for now. (Just a little PSA: killing mosquitoes is challenging. You have to give me a little credit for having the courage to defeat those little bloodsuckers.)Then there's Tai. He's the male protagonist with a mysterious past. I adored reading his snarky lines and I did love his banter with Anlei. However, I didn't really ship them as a couple. They have great chemistry as friends but I couldn't reconcile the image of them being *together*. Maybe it's just me though. I'm quite picky with my ships nowadays. • ‎DRAGONS The first time I read this book's title, I immediately clicked that "WANT TO READ" button on goodreads. That button is a blackhole, y'all. I don't recommend being friends with it. Anyway, I was interested with Stronger than a Bronze Dragon at first sight because when I see a word that starts with letter D and ands with an N on a book title, that baby goes into the TBR pile immediately. Well, dragons don't play a pivotal role in this book but I still appreciated their presence (there are mechanical dragons and sort-of-ethereal dragons here y'all). Don't mind me. I'm trash for the smallest dragon appearances in all forms of media.• ‎All hail Mary Fan for the descriptive writingThis book has very rich descriptions which further cemented its plot. I'm a very sensory reader and the descriptions really helped me in imagining the settings and the scenes. I also applaud Mary Fan for incorporating mythology in this book. Aside from dragons, there are ghosts, moon spirits, monsters and demons which added more dimension to the story. More insights:I had some issues with the pacing and felt a bit disconnected to the characters when I reached the end but this one is still a fun standalone to read. Despite the predictablity of the plot twists, I still appreciated the over-all angsty feel of the book. I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ALL THE READERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO FEEL EMPOWERED. Let's travel to Hell and back with these fierce protagonists!
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsThis is a story about Anlei, an acrobat warrior who refused to follow the usual path of girls in her time, but is forced to marry a powerful viceroy in order to save her village.This book has a slow start but I appreciated it because it provided the backstory which made me understand Anlei more. She's still grieving the loss of her father and she wants to seek revenge. I admire Anlei's character because of the love and dedication that she has for her family and her village. She'll do an 4.5 starsThis is a story about Anlei, an acrobat warrior who refused to follow the usual path of girls in her time, but is forced to marry a powerful viceroy in order to save her village.This book has a slow start but I appreciated it because it provided the backstory which made me understand Anlei more. She's still grieving the loss of her father and she wants to seek revenge. I admire Anlei's character because of the love and dedication that she has for her family and her village. She'll do anything, even marry the viceroy, and give the enchanted River Pearl, in exchange for protection for her people from the attacks of the Ligui.The River Pearl was stolen by a young thief, Tai. A mysterious boy, who desperately needs it to save his people. He is such a lovable character, and I loved the playful/witty banter between him and Anlei. Their chemistry made me enjoy reading this book more.The only thing that I felt lacking was a bit of a backstory for the villain as I would've wanted to understand his motivations/reasons. But with its plot twists, the combination of steampunk and magic, the Asian representation, and the world-building, you surely won't regret reading this! Thanks to NetGalley and Page Street Kids for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review."Self-control today is a gift for tomorrow. Be kind to your future self.""Many choices come down to love or hate. Choose love, every time.""Nothing can truly be fixed. Once broken, nothing will ever be as it was.""And though you can't repair something entirely, you can mold it into something better."Soundtrack: Fire and the Flood by Vance Joy
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  • Annemieke / A Dance with Books
    January 1, 1970
    When I came across this book on Netgalley the cover immediately drew my attention. A Dragon and the typography of the yellow title. I like. Of course the title mentioning a dragon helped. There are dragons in here, just not quite the way you’d think. That didn’t stop me from enjoying this splendid standalone novel. This book has everything. It is a strange mixture of steampunk, paranormal, magic, and do I dare say, a touch of mythology. There are air ships, steampunk dragons, pearls gifted by a When I came across this book on Netgalley the cover immediately drew my attention. A Dragon and the typography of the yellow title. I like. Of course the title mentioning a dragon helped. There are dragons in here, just not quite the way you’d think. That didn’t stop me from enjoying this splendid standalone novel. This book has everything. It is a strange mixture of steampunk, paranormal, magic, and do I dare say, a touch of mythology. There are air ships, steampunk dragons, pearls gifted by a dragon, uncommon fantasy creatures, hell, unwilling brides, thieves. There is so much jammed in this book that it is a little overwhelming at times. Sometimes it maybe had too much. With that I mean that some elements could have used more room to be fitted in world building wise. Having said that though, there is an incredible pace throughout this book. It keeps going and going and going. I just kept on turning and turning and turning the pages, just to keep up. Yet there was enough room left to explain the world satisfactory and characterize the characters. Seeing as this novel is under 400 pages AND a standalone that is quite a feat. The plot doesn’t stop with the initial quest though initial I felt that we were building up to that moment. Somehow she managed to hold onto that feeling as we build up to the actual ending. Our main character Anlei is a bit of a spitfire, getting the chance to fight in the guard of her village, it is one of the things she wanted the most. However when she gets offered up as a bride to a powerful older man to save her village definitely she feels she has no other choice but to accept. It does not go easy for her and she ends up going on her first and quite probably her final adventure. While I liked Anlei, I loved Tai. He is the kind of character I am always drawn. The humor and endless teasing. He was able to draw it out of Anlei too which was great to see. I loved how they were put together because they weren’t opposites. In fact Anlei recognized a lot of herself in him that helped her grow and see her own behavior in a different light. I think that was a great way to go about it. Overall a great fantasy standalone.
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  • Nora Eliana
    January 1, 1970
    “A flying ship, stolen from the viceroy's fleet. A young thief on a fantastical quest. And a decision so wild, I can hardly believe I made it. “Rating: 3.5 Stars Source: Huge thanks to The Royal Polar Bear Reads for hosting an International Blog Tour and Page Street Kids for kindly providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.Stronger than a Bronze Dragon and me ... well, we had a rough start. I had trouble connecting to the world and to Anlei (our MC) at the very beginning. But fortunatel “A flying ship, stolen from the viceroy's fleet. A young thief on a fantastical quest. And a decision so wild, I can hardly believe I made it.
 “
Rating: 3.5 Stars
 
Source: Huge thanks to The Royal Polar Bear Reads for hosting an International Blog Tour and Page Street Kids for kindly providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.




Stronger than a Bronze Dragon and me ... well, we had a rough start. I had trouble connecting to the world and to Anlei (our MC) at the very beginning. But fortunately, that changed relatively quickly.
The book starts with Anlei and a friend of hers (somewhat) being on the lookout for Ligui, the evil spirits that attack the village and talking about what happens, and how it shouldn't be necessary for the woman to join the guard as it is not really appropriate. However, it becomes clear right away, that that is exactly what Anlei craves. Being a warrior and getting to fight for glory and adventure.
She is driven by hate and thoughts of revenge since the Ligui killed her father. While I understood her hurt and anger very well, she acted in a way I usually can't stand. When the Ligui attack she leaves her friends fighting one huge monster alone to chase the murderer of her father, completely blinded by her rage and that results in nearly getting the others killed. And that's a pet peeve of mine ...

“Somewhere far away, a girl's voice calls, "Anlei! Come back!"
The words are a meaningless buzz beneath the blood thundering in my ears. All I know is that my father's killer is at last within reach. And, by the Gods of Heaven and Earth, I will destroy him. Like the legendary Warrioress, I will slay my enemy and reap the glory. (...) I don' care if there are other guards who could fight him-- this victory will belong to me alone.

 
“BUT after that first fight we get to know her better. Especially when she talked to her family, her mother and little sister Anshui. Her motivation becomes clearer, beyond the thoughts of revenge. We get to see her difficulties with emotions and conveying them correctly. I loved seeing that. Her sister Anshui is adorable and I love the strong bond they have. Anlei can do and say things that hurt other people without really meaning to, she interprets things differently and she knows it but is still confused by that.

"That's not what I meant!"
"But it's what your words implied." I press my fist to my lips. So often, the meaning of my words comes out all wrong, but this is the worst thing I've ever said even though I didn't mean to say it.
(...)
"I'm sorry for what I said. I didn't mean it." 
"I know." Mother looks up. "You must watch your words, Anlei. And you must consider the perspective of others."
"Yes, Mother." But understanding the unspoken meaning behind words, like reading, is something I can only accomplish with great focus and effort. I wonder if I'll ever learn how to do what comes so naturally to everyone else.

 
That was the moment when I started liking her, rooting for her and understand her. Not to say that I didn't have any more moments when I wanted to shake some sense into Anlei but I enjoyed that instead of being annoyed. Mary Fan managed to turn something I usually despise into the very reason why I liked the character which is truly amazing.
There is also another instance of this. The scene where Anlei is deciding to sacrifice all her wishes for glory and adventure, to hand herself over to marry the Viceroy to secure his protection of Dailan, her village and when she looks back at that. She talks about how she never envisioned the life of a wife for herself, but that of a Wariorress. This could very easily turn into one of those dreaded 'not like other girls' moments but Anlei is still respecting the choice and wish to be a wife ... and it seemed real.
These are only details at the beginning of the book, but I thought I should mention them since they are part of the reason why I liked the book as much as I did.

Mary Fan describes the world around Anlei very beautifully. I could see the huge dragon ships sailing through the air. I could feel the dread she feels while being prepared for her wedding.
As you can tell by the synopsis though, a thief steals the dragon pearl, the main thing the Viceroy wanted in exchange for his protection and so Anlei escapes to steal it back.
I loved the dynamic between Tai, the thief, and Anlei from their very first meeting. He doesn't reveal anything lightly, has a lot of secrets but he makes up for that in charm ... and in having so much fun at making Anlei mad. ^^
Their banter was what made the whole middle part of the book entertaining.
I have to say though ... I could have done without the romance. It wasn't bad by any means, and it didn't take over the plot at all but I loved their friendship and would have been content with them staying that way. But I'm not mad at the romance either. They had a few cute moments after all.
The first quest ends roughly in the middle of the book which surprised me a little but I appreciated it. If the journey to hell would have been dragged out longer the book would have probably become a little boring.
We see Anlei's character traits again very clearly during the fight in hell, her longing to be the hero and her craving glory, her jealousy that Tai gets all that and she will be forgotten. I can totally see how that might not be for everyone but I really liked it. It was very in character for her and it felt real.
I'm not gonna say a lot about what happened after as to not spoil you but I really enjoyed the ending. We get to learn more about Tai and who he really is, how he deals with stress, anger and sadness ... and it may very well break your heart. Just a little.
Also, Anlei's inability to say 'the right thing' or to comfort him ... very relatable.

The world Mary Fan created is inspired by Chinese mythology and I enjoyed exploring it alongside Tai and Anlei. The spirits, Yueshen and Ligui, the steampunk elements, the connection between magic and science ... those are all things I loved about this book.
We get a few stories they have been told as children and it was amazing to read those. I really like when books include these. It makes everything seem just that much more real.
I could predict a lot of the twists and I'm a bit disappointed by the Viceroy and his motivations (or rather ... what we got with Anlei, the view behind her facade and why she is who she is ... we didn't get that with the viceroy and I would have loved to see that.) I like the villains or antagonist to have clear and understandable reasons for doing what they're doing. More than just ... well, they're evil.


The strong points of this book are definitely the two main characters and the world. I loved how different Anlei and Tai are, how they both deal with their feelings in their own ways and still find a way to connect with each other
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  • Taasia ✨
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a history buff. I'm Chinese. I love both of these separately and together. I'm down.
  • S.E. Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a massive fan of Mary Fan, who wrote one of my favorite YA SF books of all time, Starswept (see my review!). So when I saw the announcement for this book, I knew I just had to read it. A hero's journey through a fantastical Qing dynasty China, where we have steampunk technology mixed with magic, a lady warrior who wields a dangerous blade... this is the exact book I needed in my life, and it was perfect in every way. Anlei is one of those fierce Warioress characters who jump out of the page. I'm a massive fan of Mary Fan, who wrote one of my favorite YA SF books of all time, Starswept (see my review!). So when I saw the announcement for this book, I knew I just had to read it. A hero's journey through a fantastical Qing dynasty China, where we have steampunk technology mixed with magic, a lady warrior who wields a dangerous blade... this is the exact book I needed in my life, and it was perfect in every way. Anlei is one of those fierce Warioress characters who jump out of the page. A village girl, trained as an acrobat and struggling with dyslexia, trying to find her place in a village where a woman's place is in the home. It is a vocation she respects, but knows deep down is not for her. Being able to fight for her village takes courage, but not so much courage as when asked to marry a complete stranger in order to solidify the promise of protection for her people. Tai, a thief with many mysteries up his sleeves, is the perfect foil to her character. He always seems to have the perfect joke or quip to catch her off guard. They make a perfect fighting pair, a team built on respect and trust. I loved seeing the two of them fight together both with a sword or with their words. And the magic, the technology - the concept itself is so cool. I love the idea of giant bronze dragons soaring through the air, ships propelled along the breeze, swords harnessing ancient magic. All this to fight an enemy straight out of a nightmare.Once again, Mary Fan proves she is the master of twists. She manages to take a story that seems to be going one direction, then swing it around until it is going another - while making me wonder how I couldn't have seen it before. This book constantly keeps you on your toes!While I haven't read many Chinese tales, I feel like Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon reads like a cross between YA fantasy and a Chinese hero's ballad, almost poetic in a sense, a journey to save one's people, an ode to family, culture, and tradition, in the face of massive danger. The author's writing is somehow even more lyrical than in her Starswept books, which I assumed we musical simply from the fact they were about music - turns out Mary Fan can bring this same music to Steampunk China.If you're looking for a story you will never have seen anywhere else, with characters you can fall in love with while simultaneously want to fight alongside with, then you are going to love Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon.
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  • Sha
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Page Street Kids through NetGalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. Stronger than a Bronze Dragon hooked me on two keywords. “Dragon” and “thief.” I’m a sucker for books with either of those. The fact that the book is based on Chinese culture was an added bonus. I know nothing and I mean nothing Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Page Street Kids through NetGalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. Stronger than a Bronze Dragon hooked me on two keywords. “Dragon” and “thief.” I’m a sucker for books with either of those. The fact that the book is based on Chinese culture was an added bonus. I know nothing and I mean nothing about the Courts of Hell, but trust that I was ready to learn.I will say I definitely got my two keywords in this book. The bronze dragons make many appearances and our thief is a key player early on. But I could predict everything. StaBD followed every trope line you would expect in a warrior girl/thief boy fantasy novel.My frustration is really that the book has potential. Anlei is a passionate girl who hungers for a chance at adventure. Early in the book she realizes that the domestic life is not for her—especially unusual in a time when women are expected to wed young and be obedient.When it comes down to it, though, the writing felt less like exploring scenes and more like pushing BIG MOMENTS at the reader. Anlei is kidnapped, Anlei escapes, Anlei saves an orphaned child, Anlei falls in a river, Anlei–* I love action scenes, really I do, but after a bit I was hungering for descriptive and introspective scenes.*I made these up to avoid spoilersAnother thing that didn’t quite click with me was the narrative voice. StaBD is written in first person—a.k.a. Anlei’s voice—and while Anlei is seventeen years old, the though process shown to the reader is more similar to that of a thirteen or fourteen-year-old. Anlei acts without thinking, speaks without considering the feelings of others, and often scolds herself in her head in simplistic language. (Like a young child repeating what a parent has said.) It reads so oddly and often stilted. Honestly, I would recommend this book to younger readers for its tone and narration. It doesn’t read like upper YA, and I can see older teens having trouble connecting to Anlei.One other thing: everything was so simple! Any struggle that arises, a solution is always found within seconds. (Even when it wouldn’t be logical.)I think this book requires slight suspension of disbelief, which is an odd thing to say when reading fantasy. The world-building could have used a bit more development, as not all the details are understandable/believable even within Fan’s own universe.
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  • Kat // Novels & Waffles
    January 1, 1970
    "This is what I was born to do: fight evil." Things I Liked: ✑ Haters-to-Lovers trope with lots of snarky banter (snarky banter always gets me)✑ Dyslexia Representation!!!✑ Action, action, and more action! There are a lot of great action sequences + an epic quest to the Courts of Hell✑ China-inspired fantasy + steampunk elements + robot dragons = the coolest concept ever Things I Liked... Less: ✑ Clunky conversations and awkward pacing✑ THE INFODUMPING IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE✑ The fantasy/stea "This is what I was born to do: fight evil." Things I Liked: ✑ Haters-to-Lovers trope with lots of snarky banter (snarky banter always gets me)✑ Dyslexia Representation!!!✑ Action, action, and more action! There are a lot of great action sequences + an epic quest to the Courts of Hell✑ China-inspired fantasy + steampunk elements + robot dragons = the coolest concept ever Things I Liked... Less: ✑ Clunky conversations and awkward pacing✑ THE INFODUMPING IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE✑ The fantasy/steampunk elements didn't mesh together well...it felt too forced. I love the concept, but not the execution✑ Many characters were flat and underdeveloped ✑ Ibsituu was too much of a fix-it-all character (Ex Machina)✑ Anlei didn't really grow or develop that much as a character, I feel like?---------------------------------------------Novels & Waffles Blog・Twitter・Instagram・Bloglovin'
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  • caitlin ✶
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsPros:- steampunk GOODNESS- amazing Chinese-inspired world (I'm actually quite proud of myself because I understood some of the Chinese words used)- if you're looking for a fun quest story, this is for you!- though I wouldn't say that the characters are ground-breaking or that we haven't seen them in other adventure/fantasy stories before, they are well-developed and likableCons:- i felt like the main characters declared their love for each other too quickly, and I think the circumstance 3.5 starsPros:- steampunk GOODNESS- amazing Chinese-inspired world (I'm actually quite proud of myself because I understood some of the Chinese words used)- if you're looking for a fun quest story, this is for you!- though I wouldn't say that the characters are ground-breaking or that we haven't seen them in other adventure/fantasy stories before, they are well-developed and likableCons:- i felt like the main characters declared their love for each other too quickly, and I think the circumstances of the declaration would've been way way more impactful if it were one of friendship instead of romantic loveI received an e-arc via Netgalley for my participation in the blog tour hosted by Fantastic Flying Book Club, so thank you to FFBC & the publishers for that! Check out my stop on June 12th!BLOG & TWITTER
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  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    So this is the first Mary Fan book I've read. I've come across some reviews of her other books. I now know she is an author to look out for though. This was just, WOW!The book synopsis and cover sucked me in right away, I just I knew I just had to read it and that I would love it. This book has everything from steampunk, magic and badass heroine plot twists and amazing world building. Its seriously everything. You have to read this book, like today!! NOW!You will fall for Anlei and this story in So this is the first Mary Fan book I've read. I've come across some reviews of her other books. I now know she is an author to look out for though. This was just, WOW!The book synopsis and cover sucked me in right away, I just I knew I just had to read it and that I would love it. This book has everything from steampunk, magic and badass heroine plot twists and amazing world building. Its seriously everything. You have to read this book, like today!! NOW!You will fall for Anlei and this story instantly. Overall this book was fantastic and I 100% Recommend it! I plan on hunting down a hardcover of it, I need this book forever on my shelves!*This book was given for honest review by netgalley*
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  • Amanda (MetalPhantasmReads)
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 30%**I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own**This really didn't work for me. The story telling felt very clunky. It just seemed several scenes pasted together that seemed like the "highlights" of a book without much time in between scenes to get immersed into the world more or connect with the protagonist. It's frustrating that the protagonist doesn't plan anything on her quest and that she doesn't r DNF @ 30%**I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own**This really didn't work for me. The story telling felt very clunky. It just seemed several scenes pasted together that seemed like the "highlights" of a book without much time in between scenes to get immersed into the world more or connect with the protagonist. It's frustrating that the protagonist doesn't plan anything on her quest and that she doesn't really seem to care about anyone else other than doing what she wants. I know that teens are smarter than this. I do like the steampunk element in an Asian fantasy setting, but that was the only thing I liked about it. I can see teens enjoying this, but it really wasn't for me.
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  • William Herr
    January 1, 1970
    I had the privilege to receive an ARC (advance review copy) from Mary Fan for her new book, Stronger than a Bronze Dragon. The book has not yet hit shelves, but it may be pre-ordered (although the cover has not yet been released on Amazon). Pre-order this book. Do it.First, this is not genre fiction. It is, but it isn’t. I know genre fiction, and I’ve read it all my life. Such work focuses on established tropes, arranged in hopefully meaningful and original ways, and tells the expected story. Is I had the privilege to receive an ARC (advance review copy) from Mary Fan for her new book, Stronger than a Bronze Dragon. The book has not yet hit shelves, but it may be pre-ordered (although the cover has not yet been released on Amazon). Pre-order this book. Do it.First, this is not genre fiction. It is, but it isn’t. I know genre fiction, and I’ve read it all my life. Such work focuses on established tropes, arranged in hopefully meaningful and original ways, and tells the expected story. Is this present in Stronger than a Bronze Dragon? Of course. If one looks only at the plot and its devices, this is classic steampunk with a magical flavor, set in Qing dynasty China. It is a sweet romance tied around a hero’s journey, flavored with clockwork and spirits. And yet, there is so much more.From the back-copy:When a powerful viceroy arrives with a fleet of mechanical dragons and stops an attack on Anlei’s village, the villagers see him as a godsend. They agree to give him their sacred, enchanted River Pearl in exchange for permanent protection—if he’ll marry one of the village girls to solidify the alliance. Anlei is appalled when the viceroy selects her as a bride, but with the fate of her people at stake, she sees no choice but to consent. Anlei’s noble plans are sent into a tailspin, however, when a young thief steals the River Pearl for himself.Knowing the viceroy won’t protect her village without the jewel, she takes matters into her own hands. But once she catches the thief, she discovers he needs the pearl just as much as she does. The two embark on an epic quest across the land and into the Courts of Hell, taking Anlei on a journey that reveals more is at stake than she could have ever imagined.That is the story, and it is as epic as advertised, but again, there is more. This book has more than simply an Asian flavor to an accepted theme. It’s flowing descriptions border on poetry. One suspects, as they read, that it is a love-letter to a China of yesteryear, a whisper to its people that the magic of their beauty has not been forgotten. As I read, I found myself falling into this world which was at the same time so new and yet so foriegn. I reread passages five and six times, letting the alliterations and tempo of the text roll on the back of my tongue. This was a book which wanted to be read aloud, and I confess that much of it was, in my case. Repeatedly.The protagonist Anlei and her friend Tai struggle through a world in the midst of an industrial revolution, replete with the weapons of war that such advances inevitably generate. As they travel between provinces, the whistful language of the text reminds one that the old ways are often to be mourned when they are cast aside. Like Tolkien’s descriptions of the Shire, she spins a web of regret for all that has been lost. It is as if Fan wrote in italic text that traditions have place and purpose, and define us as much as we define ourselves. She tells us that the slow, inevitable roll of industrialization cannot replace pastoral peace, is not necessarily preferable, and in fact can be anathemic. She tells us that, despite our suspicions of superiority, progress must come with a price–one that we do not expect, nor should be expected to pay. So many themes, and yet these are the ones that most strongly grabbed me by the collar and shook me.I loved it. It was brilliant. It was on the level of literature, in a work of character-driven genre fantasy. It was Moby Dick on clockwork steroids. I have already pre-ordered it, and you should too. Really. If you do not dissolve into the world she has illuminated, you have no soul.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Putting this one down for now
  • - ̗̀ jess ̖́-
    January 1, 1970
    I very much enjoyed reading Stronger than a Bronze Dragon. This book is packed with action, a fierce heroine, and a very compelling story.I really loved the two main characters, Anlei and Tai. Anlei was such a treasure to read about; she's loyal to her family and village almost to a fault, restless, and always leaps to the occasion whenever she has a chance to, even if she knows it'll get her in trouble. I admire her bravery and sense of duty so much. Like, girl never rests throughout the entire I very much enjoyed reading Stronger than a Bronze Dragon. This book is packed with action, a fierce heroine, and a very compelling story.I really loved the two main characters, Anlei and Tai. Anlei was such a treasure to read about; she's loyal to her family and village almost to a fault, restless, and always leaps to the occasion whenever she has a chance to, even if she knows it'll get her in trouble. I admire her bravery and sense of duty so much. Like, girl never rests throughout the entire book - she spends the whole of it fighting to live as she wants to, being a warrior, despite her upcoming marriage to Viceroy Kang forbidding her from it. It looms over the whole book, more menacing than any of the fantasy creatures that appear, and you can really see how much Anlei loves being free and able to fight for her people.As for Tai, I just want to wrap him up in a blanket and tell him everything will be okay. He was so good and bright and happy throughout most of the book, but part of it is a farce and he's also been through so much and it makes me want to protect him so badly. The romance was actually really cute - yeah, it was a bit insta-love, but there was so much great banter between Tai and Anlei and I'm a sucker for banter and snark between love interests. They had such a great dynamic together at all points of their storyline, and I liked seeing Anlei figure out her complicated feelings around Tai.Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon has some really incredible worldbuilding--and by that I mean it takes place in a magical steampunk equivalent of China. It's something you wouldn't immediately think would work well, but it works excellently, blending elements of Chinese history and culture and the steampunk aesthetic seamlessly. There are so many different kinds of magic and worldbuilding that I've never read about before, with two very fascinating types of spirits playing a role in the story: Ligui, shadow spirits, and Yueshen, living light spirits. I'm not sure if it comes from Chinese culture/mythology or not, but I loved reading about new ideas in fantasy and seeing how everything came together.The story is super fast-paced and packed with action from beginning to end. There's a lot to this world, so the book takes a bit of time to really get going, but once it does it never stops. It does get a little tiring to read at times because it doesn't allow much time for quieter scenes - I do think that the book could be a little more evenly paced, and I did find the writing somewhat awkward at times. But I definitely think that it's really easy to binge this book - I read the last third in one sitting.I definitely recommend Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon, especially to anyone who's looking for new, interesting, and diverse fantasy worlds. It's a very fun book that's filled with adventure, and a great addition to the compendium of YA fantasy.
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  • Tara (Spinatale Reviews)
    January 1, 1970
    As soon as I saw the word "dragon" in the title of this book, I added it to my tbr. Luckily, it still looked interesting after I actually read the summary. Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon turned out to be a refreshing and unique fantasy story with some steampunk elements. I loved the world-building. Fan created a fantastic world and I loved finding out new tidbits about it throughout the story. I was left with a few remaining questions but for a YA novel, the world-building was pretty good. The ch As soon as I saw the word "dragon" in the title of this book, I added it to my tbr. Luckily, it still looked interesting after I actually read the summary. Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon turned out to be a refreshing and unique fantasy story with some steampunk elements. I loved the world-building. Fan created a fantastic world and I loved finding out new tidbits about it throughout the story. I was left with a few remaining questions but for a YA novel, the world-building was pretty good. The characters were also intriguing, although it took some time for me to warm up to Anlei. I enjoyed the romance - the banter was engaging and it was so much fun to see how their feelings changed toward each other.However, the writing style didn't really work for me. I'm sure that it will work for some readers but I felt like the writing style kept me at a distance from the story. I was never able to just immerse myself in the world and the characters. Plus the pacing for the plot was a bit wonky. About halfway through, I legitimately thought that the book was going to end. And then it didn't. While there was another conflict that needed to be resolved, it wasn't really well developed. I never understood the villain's motivations and the story just wasn't given the time to breathe that it needed. Secrets were being revealed left and right and the reader just wasn't given time to process one before the next was revealed. I think there was definitely enough plot for this book to be split into a duology, particularly since it already has two very distinct story arcs. Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon was an intriguing Chinese-inspired fantasy that melded steampunk and fantasy. There were some elements of the story that didn't work for me but I think that many readers will love this one. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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  • Dorka
    January 1, 1970
    have to say it was very refreshing to read this book. I love fantasy and I quite enjoy reading Europe/Western inspired fantasy but reading one that is Asian inspired, it gives you so many new things and this book did just that. I adored the vibes this Asian inspired, steampunk mixed with magic story gave me. It kept me on turning the pages and it kept on my toes to see what is going to happen. There were a couple of elements that were predictable but I was ultimately fine with it, it served a p have to say it was very refreshing to read this book. I love fantasy and I quite enjoy reading Europe/Western inspired fantasy but reading one that is Asian inspired, it gives you so many new things and this book did just that. I adored the vibes this Asian inspired, steampunk mixed with magic story gave me. It kept me on turning the pages and it kept on my toes to see what is going to happen. There were a couple of elements that were predictable but I was ultimately fine with it, it served a purpose in the story after all. I definitely think we need more standalones in the fantasy genre so I was so happy to read this one. It wraps up quite well and I was definitely satisfied with the ending.More on the blog: https://berriesandbooksblog.wordpress...
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  • Sheila Goicea
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley from Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.Review to come shortly.My Blog ¦ Bookstagram ¦ Twitter ¦ Pinterest ¦ Facebook
  • KayCee K
    January 1, 1970
    In Stronger than a Bronze Dragon we follow Anlei and her village. We know that she wants to do what's best not only for her family but also her village. We learn what she's willing to do to keep her home safe. I love the mechanical dragons, that's something I've hardly read about and it's very different, pulled me in. Anlei is strong & moving characters, but my favorite characters were Tai; he was funny, witty and made the story fell fuller. I have to say that Mary Fan's writing was my all t In Stronger than a Bronze Dragon we follow Anlei and her village. We know that she wants to do what's best not only for her family but also her village. We learn what she's willing to do to keep her home safe. I love the mechanical dragons, that's something I've hardly read about and it's very different, pulled me in. Anlei is strong & moving characters, but my favorite characters were Tai; he was funny, witty and made the story fell fuller. I have to say that Mary Fan's writing was my all time favorite part of this book, her writing is balanced with just enough world build and you could see everything while still letting the story be about the characters. Beautifully done!I also like that all I knew about this book was that there was a girl wanting to keep her village safe and the mechanical dragons, that's it. It made everything seem more surprising. This book will leave you flying, wanting more!
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