June 2020 Bookish Wrap-up

June 2020 Bookish Wrap-up

Hello everyone! Long time, no talk.

I know it’s been a while since we’ve chatted, but my mental health has been struggling severely. Happiness feels more like a concept than a reality for me these days and reading…well, let’s just say it’s been put on the back burner.

I didn’t think I would read anything, but somehow by mid-June, I was back to reading…slowly. I still had a bunch of different books I needed to read and even finish some challenges I created for myself, but my main challenge was just to start reading again. Staring at my phone all day wasn’t helping. I honestly spent way too much time on my phone (an average of 7 hours a day, that’s legitimately an entire work day). After two weeks of just looking at my phone, I decided enough was enough. I needed to put the phone down and pick up a book.

So I eased myself back into books. I started with a few lighter reads on audiobook. My mental health did NOT want me reading with my eyes, so I did it with my ears. I was actually able to knock out a bunch of books for my book club meeting and a few stories for Pride as well with this method. I started with A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. Something about reading romances on audio just seems to work for me. But A Princess in Theory was also a really engaging story about a young grad student working to be an epidemiologist when she meets Thabiso, the crowned prince of Thesolo in Africa. I absolutely love stories like this, the serious and the goofy. But I also loved that they talked about women in STEM and how difficult that is. HECK YEAH!

After that, I read Once Ghosted Twice Shy which is a novella in the same universe as A Princess in Theory. This one, Thabiso’s royal right hand person, Likotsi, sees her ex, Fabiola, on the subway in New York. And while Fabiola ghosted Likotsi the last time she was in town, neither of them were going to make that same mistake again.

The final book I read on audio was All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. This one was particularly good on audio because the author narrates the book himself. It’s also a memoir and something about hearing the stories of someone’s life through their own voice is like sitting with them in real life. I don’t know George M Johnson, but it feels like I do because his voice was in my head while I heard his stories.

With the audiobooks and some other choice novels, I read four books in one weekend. I have never finished this many stories in one weekend let alone a week, so that number was quite jarring for me. It was like I caught up with my reading over one short weekend and funny enough, my appetite for more books came back.

So I started getting back to my challenge of reading all the Hugo Award nominated books. Prior to June, I had only one and a half books left. I say one and a half because I started a book before June and that was when I stopped reading. Nothing against the book. It actually was a really enjoyable one, but my mental health is similar to my mood. When the mood strikes, then I’m out for the count. I really hope you like these boxing metaphors I keep using here.

I will say I’m super proud to have read them, but I’m still weary that I didn’t give these books my entire attention. I decided to finish them, but not review them. I might actually reread them in the future since I didn’t feel like I had given them the attention they deserved. I liked them well enough, but I couldn’t tell you the nuances and themes.

Finally, I felt confident enough to read my final book of the month; The City We Became by NK Jemisin. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this book in the next few days, but I have to tell you right now that it was a stunner. Yes, the science fiction was hard to understand but when has science fiction not been a concept you had to wrap your head around? Yes, it was glorious urban fantasy, my favorite. Something about setting a fantasy or science fiction story in the real world makes me feel like magic can exist in this reality. Yes, it was unapologetic and yes, NK Jemisin talks about racism and how it creeps around like some tired bedbug waiting to bite you. I couldn’t get enough, but I won’t share anymore. You’ll just have to keep reading.

The Books I Read (no review links for these because I’m behind in my writing too):

  • The City We Became by NK Jemisin (5 stars)
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson – Read on Audio (5 stars)
  • The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon – Read on Audio (5 stars)
  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (4 stars)
  • Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby (4 stars)
  • A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (4 stars)
  • Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole (5 stars)
  • The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (4 stars)
  • A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (4 stars)

Next month, I have a lot of books up my sleeve, some updates to the blog I’ll be making, and tons and tons more book reviews coming back. Nothing much will change with how I write content here, but just expect a lot more in the future from me. I’ll see you all in July!

November 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

November 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

Happy December, folks! I feel like December crept up on us because one minute it was Thanksgiving and the next minute it’s all about the holidays. Then again, I guess every year is like that. I think the only difference is that the weekend after Thanksgiving this year was December 1st.

While there were a few rough bumps for me personally throughout the month of November, I felt pretty successful with what I accomplished. Last month, I read nine books and with pretty bad anxiety and a whole lot of depression, I have to say that was pretty good reading. I will note that half the books I read were romances, so that usually helps.

Some things I do want to note: I abandoned my TBR. I knew the TBR thing was a short burst in time, but I thought I would surprise myself and not read by my mood. Of course, I’m not awesome. It’s not a big loss for me. I still read plenty books, but I do want to control my moods sometimes because books keep getting put on the back burner. I’ve got books I’ve pushed off for years now and it’s finally time to read them.

I also didn’t read any of the Netgalley books I wanted to read. LOL, I didn’t do so well in November. But I’m not upset because I still read nine books, enjoyed every single one of them, and I’m excited for what December has to offer.

Here’s what I read

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Well Met by Jen Deluca

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

So I ended up reading a few more romances this month and I think it has something to do with the horror books I read. I read a few too many horror stories that I retreated into romances! All four of these were my favorite, but the one that stands out the most was Get a Life, Chloe Brown. I love the representation here and how natural Talia Hibbert wrote these characters. Also, it was pretty steamy which always gets some points in my book.

I also really loved Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses. While I’m not a huge fan of HEAs where the couple gets married and immediately have babies, it really surprised me. I was worried it would be as cheesy as the Hallmark holiday movies, but it had substance. I loved the characters and I thought that their motives made sense with the story. Very excellent read with a smattering of holiday cheer.

The Queens of Animation by Nathalie Holt

This was my only nonfiction for Nonfiction November and it was for my IRL book club. I loved this story mostly because it discusses the animators and women in animation who never got the credit they deserved. It was shocking to see how their influence made some of the most beloved Disney movies of all time, and they almost faded into the shadows. So sad! But such a great little book if you’re fan of Disney movies or if you want to know what the early days of animation looked like for women.

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Next year, my friend Deedi and I plan on reading some more backlist fantasy books we dubbed “the essential fantasy.” Basically, we’ve gotten to a point in our reading where we want to explore the foundations of fantasy books. While this isn’t scientific in any way, we chose a few books to get us started next year, but we didn’t want to waste the rest of 2019. So we started with Sabriel by Garth Nix and wow, I’m so shook by how fantasy worked back in the day. I definitely loved Sabriel, but it’s completely different from what we see fantasy today. It’s a quick read that will leave you with a lot of questions (that are answered in the subsequent novels after).

Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

From older fantasy to a fantasy book that doesn’t publish until April 2020. I’m so excited for the opportunity to read Incendiary early and absolutely loved it. Filled with royal and political intrigue, diverse characters, and all your favorite tropes, you’ll love this one if you’re a fan of high fantasy and young people always making big mistakes.

Honorable Mentions

What did you end up reading this month?

Find all my reviews on Goodreads

 

October 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

October 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

After a night of Halloween candy and watching scary movies, it’s finally the end of October. And that means another wrap up of my reading month. I read nine books this month.

I feel like I need to re-name my wrap ups to “books Simone spent a month yammering about because they’re so good.” Because this month, the books were so good.

However, my original TBR changed massively as new library holds came in. I had a couple of buddy reads and book club reads and they all came from the library as one giant stack of books. I had to reorganize my TBR a few times.

What I wanted to keep in mind was getting my buddy reads and book club books on my TBR. Those were a MUST because when you’re having a convo about a book, you should know what the book is about. After that, I added in some spooky reads because it’s October and spooky reads are always a must when leading up to Halloween. Seriously, spooky reads after Halloween just feels like celebrating New Year’s on Easter.

But because of the changes, I had to make some SACRIFICES. For me, it was my ARCs for November. November 5th is planning to be a big publishing day for a lot of books. I mean, A LOT. I think this is going to be the last big push before the end of the year. So I didn’t get to read the fun romances and a few fantasies I’ve downloaded from Netgalley. I think they’ll become the priority in November.

But enough about what changes I made this month. Here’s what I actually read and enjoyed:

Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

This duology was probably my favorite fantasy of the month. I read this with my friend Jenna for an awesome buddy read and before we even finished the series, two more friends tagged along to read it. They both loved it too! It’s an incredible story about a young man named Lazlo Strange who joins a party of folks about to dismantle a giant angel statue standing in the middle of a small town called Weep. But the statue isn’t just a statue, but a palace for a group of blue-skinned folks called the Mesarthims. They have a mysterious past that no one remembers. When Lazlo gets there, he realizes there’s a much bigger story happening here. Strange the Dreamer is more the story of what’s happening currently while Muse of Nightmares backtracks to tell you its past. The story was so well done and remarkably beautiful. I will definitely be reading more from Laini Taylor in the future.

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

I think I mentioned this before, but dragons. Rosaria Munda writes an amazing YA fantasy filled with political intrigue, big old battles, and lots of dragons. It’s about Lee, a young dragon rider who is being tested with a few other dragon riders to become the leader of a recently-revolutionized city. However, what people don’t know is that Lee is the long lost prince of the old regiment. As he begins his training, he’s met with someone from his old family and hears about their attempt at revenge. On top of all that, he’s also fighting his best friend for the top spot and she’s trying to figure out if she should reveal the truth about Lee to the rest of the kingdom. Really good political intrigue here with a lost prince, a revenge plot, and lots of dragons.

Find my review of Fireborne on Goodreads

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

I had no expectations about Gideon the Ninth and when I read it, I was blown away. It’s the story of Gideon, an orphan who is being assigned as the personal guard for Harrow; her life-long enemy. Their mission is to go to the First House of their solar system and test to become Lyctors; ultimate necromancers. However, as the group of testers go through various tests and solve this giant riddle of becoming a Lyctor, there’s another strange plot being played out. And the ending is something you would never imagine happening. Definitely check this one out if you’re a fan of Nevernight and Jay Kristoff. It’s a dark fantasy that will really leave you shooketh.

Find my review of Gideon the Ninth on Goodreads

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

You might have already read my review of this one, but this story is still stuck in my mind and I can’t get it out. It’s the story of Zachary who discovers an underground library filled with books and stories. This tiny world is magical and beautiful and despite its major flaws, such a brilliant story. Definitely read this one if you’re a fan of Erin Morgenstern’s work or if you love stories about stories.

Find my review of The Starless Sea on Goodreads

The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

This book is actually the second book in the Origins series including The Darkest Star. If you remember from last month, I gushed about The Darkest Star and how it’s now on my list of authors that I will just obsess about and talk endlessly about. In this book, we begin to see how the world post-alien war has been turning out and sharing some bigger, darker, secrets Evie didn’t even realize. It was so addicting that I’ll be reading the rest of this series and probably be reading a bunch of other books by Jennifer L Armentrout.

Find my review of The Burning Shadow on Goodreads

Honorable Mentions

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

I also had the opportunity to read Christina Lauren’s newest book and I liked it. It wasn’t my favorite, but I also wonder if Christina Lauren slowed down a little (they’ve been publishing a new book almost every three months) they could possibly put out something that’ll get them out of this 3-star slump they’ve got going with me right now. I love Christina Lauren, but I’m always looking for more when it comes to their books.

Find my review of Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren on Goodreads

The Shining by Stephen King

Finally, I made the time for a spooky book this month. I’m honestly upset that I only read one spooky book, but I guess that means the other spooky books will be read in November alongside my Netgalley ARCs. And sadly, The Shining wasn’t even that scary! I think the movie was much scarier, but the movie and the book are two separate entities. There were very few similarities including the REDRUM on the mirror and the old lady in the bathtub and the outcome of the story.

It felt so much more character-driven than I imagined and I loved the shine that Danny has in the book. I already started Doctor Sleep and I love how Stephen King took the shining theme from the first book and incorporated into another sinister story. I don’t think this one will be scary either (maybe a little gross), but will definitely report back.

Find my review of The Shining by Stephen King on Goodreads

What did you read this month?

September 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

September 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

September always feels like a transition month. It’s the end of summer, but the beginning of fall. It’s the end of summer vacation and the start of the new school year. I always consider September as the beginning of a new year because of my old school days. It makes me excited and also makes me so impatient for fall.

This September, I read nine books. While not many of the books I read really spoke to me or brought me to a new level of fandom, I did run a small experiment with my reading this month.

Here’s basically what I did. I put together a TBR, but not your average monthly TBR where I designate 30 days to read X number of books. No, I just put some intention into my next few reads and read from the pile of books I created. It’s a TBR stack because they are the books I will be reading in the order I’ll be reading it, but I refused to let this dictate only my month and gave myself the room to approach each book within my own time. And funnily, I kept to it!

The diversity of genre and style also really helped to read these books without feeling too bored. I didn’t lose track of the upcoming releases so that I had reviews of books prior to their publishing date. I don’t know what happened specifically, but I feel like I freaking owned TBRs!

I switched off my genres and I removed the stress of having to read all these books within a month. Whatever I didn’t read is going to roll over to next month and I’ll just keep adding to that pile. It finally feels like I can read my books, not get backtracked by my mood, and own this TBR issue I have!

While I read nine books this month, they weren’t the greatest. Most of the books I picked up were 3-star books for me. It’s not a bad review, but it’s also not so amazing that I will be pushing these on my friends. But there were a couple of good ones including some new authors that I can’t wait to check out in the future or share with you here.

The Darkest Star by Jennifer L Armentrout

I devoured this book and can now safely say I’m a fan of JLA. The Darkest Star is a spin-off series of the Lux series. However, you don’t need to read the Lux series before you can read this book because the world building is pretty good in this book and it doesn’t miss a beat. This book has adventure, mystery, aliens, and a little love. Some of the plot was pretty predictable, but it’s never the predictability of a novel that makes me cringe. I don’t mind if I can figure out the ending, but I expect it to take charge afterwards and this book delivered. I will say that I found some of the teen stuff a little annoying because they’re teenagers, but as long as it works with the plot I’m not going to fault a teenager for being a bit angsty.

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

I read this womens fiction novel because it was described as the next Bridget Jones’s Diary and it totally delivered. I love how close the friends were to the MC. I loved how the book has a complicated past, which is then revealed as the story unfolds and you end up really loving these characters. Also, the growth level on the main character was exponential. It’s most definitely a book for folks who love to see a character redeem themselves, find themselves, or discover a whole side of themselves that they didn’t expect. Definitely recommend if you need a little break from the heavy reads, but be warned that there is some cringe-y stuff in here for those who may be easily triggered.

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

While this book wasn’t my favorite of the month, I’m always excited to read a new (to me) author. Also, if I wasn’t doing my TBR thing I would have left this book on my shelf and read it three years from now. The magic of my TBR system is working because now I’m reading books I wouldn’t normally read right away and discovering new authors! Annalee Newitz definitely brought that time travel vibe in their newest book The Future of Another Timeline where they explored a world where time travel has existed since pretty much the dawn of time. While the book was flawed in its execution, I fell in love with Annalee Newitz’s writing style. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more from them in the future especially if they’re bringing some highly diverse speculative fiction to the table.

What did you read this month? How did you fair?

August 2019 Bookish Wrap-Up

August 2019 Bookish Wrap-Up

I felt like I spent the last few days of August trying to fit in as many books as I can. It didn’t work, of course, because whenever I force reading I get burnt out faster.

But August was good to me and I read a lot this month. I end August with a total of eight books. Isn’t it so funny when you think you’ve only read four books but it turns out to be way more than you anticipated? It’s kind of a fun treat when you take a minute to examine your reading life every month. Let’s talk about what I enjoyed the most:

Nevernight and Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

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This was my first time read Jay Kristoff and I couldn’t have been more happy to start with this series. It’s dark, gruesome, and completely engrossing that you won’t be able to turn away. With the last book in this trilogy coming out this week (like tomorrow), I couldn’t help but marathon the two books prior to prepare myself for the finale. Do you ever take a chance on a fantasy series you’re not sure you’re going to like and then find yourself surprised by how much you love it? I feel like I take chances like this all the time. I’m always buying up all the books in a fan favorite series hoping that I’ll like it too. It seems like a waste of money, but it just feels like I’m investing in my reading future.

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

I also read a lot of romances this month especially in the historical category. My book club wanted to explore historical romance because they’re a huge part of the genre. I even wrote my thoughts on historical romances earlier this month, but I think I found Wicked and the Wallflower to be my favorite out of the bunch. Not only was it historical with its dukes and ruined women and the like, but it had that extra bit of story to keep me pretty happy. I liked this series a lot since it reads like a fantasy series already, so I can’t wait to dive into Brazen and the Beast when my library hold comes in.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

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I was highly anticipating Frankly in Love this year and getting an ARC copy of it really just made my day. I didn’t think I would relate to this book as much as I did and David Yoon brought up a lot of the nuances of Frank’s life that matched my own, which was an interesting treat. Sometimes you live life thinking the experiences you’ve had as a child were unique only to realize that it was what a lot of people did. It made me feel seen to read it in his book and happy to see others will appreciate the uniqueness of being a limbo person.

 

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

This book was probably my favorite of the entire month and I read it at the beginning of August. It was beautifully written and unafraid to share the reality of a disease like AIDS and how it affects not only the people infected by the people around them. I cried so much. Not only was Reza’s story so sad, but Art and Judy lend so well to the story. Honestly, it felt like an opus and I can’t talk about this book enough. I loved it and I hope you all read it and love it too!

What did you read this month?

 

 

July 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

July 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

I can’t believe it’s already the end of July. I mean, can you? This month felt like it flew by and almost every weekend I had plans with friends either in town or visiting from New York. I loved spending my days with friends and talking about everything including books. But it also means my reading took a little hit from it. That’s okay! I still got to read some amazing books and finished the month with eight (hopefully nine if I can fit my current read in) books. 

Looking back at my list of reads from the month, I read a lot of great books! Don’t you love it when each book you read is proceeded with another great read? Of course, there’s the inevitable downfall when you finally hit a book you have to DNF because it’s just not good or you’re not into it. Not looking forward to that.

Here’s my favorites from the month

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

This book got me in my feels this month. I mean, I had to put it down at one point and have myself a good cry because it was so good. The story about two people meeting through mutual acquaintances and fall in love. The only caveat? He wants a lot of babies when he’s married while she can’t have any babies at all. There are some seriously sad parts, but the rest is so funny. The ending, though. That will definitely get you. I can’t wait to read Abby’s next book because this was phenomenal.

Find my review on Goodreads

Recursion by Blake Crouch

I’m a fan or anything Blake Crouch. He’s an amazingly author who can really spin a tale and he does it again in Recursion. It’s the story of a woman who was trying to invent a machine that helps cure degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, but what she builds instead is a machine that allows you to travel back to your own memories and relive them IN REAL LIFE. It’s so twisted and the time jumping gets so messy and the ending leaves you feeling the way I felt after watching Inception.

Find my review on Goodreads

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

I was really blown away by this book. It was sad and terrifying, but also hopeful. It’s about this small island where an all-girls boarding school existed on. Somewhere along the line, everyone at the school (including the staff) are infected with a weird disease that mutates their bodies. Some girls are able to live after each painful mutation while others died immediately. It’s been 18 months since they’ve left the island and the girls want to go home. The story follows a trio who cling to each other like family because that’s all they have, but when one of them goes through another mutation, she’s whisked off somewhere and the other two take it upon themselves to find her.

Find my review on Goodreads

The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

This was also such a great read. It’s the story of criminal defense lawyer who’s really good at her job and also a big villain in her own life. One day, she’s kidnapped and threatened to make amends with the people she’s hurt in her life. But the story doesn’t stop there because the moment she’s kidnapped, her life is split into two. There’s one Lila Bennett that’s kidnapped and hoping to get out of there while the other Lila Bennett doesn’t get kidnapped, but now has to face the demons of her life. While you’re reading, you’re seeing this beautiful redemption arc for one side of Lila Bennett while praying that she gets rescued from her captors. The ending is such a surprise and really pulled the story together, so if you’re looking for a good thriller without too much of the suspense, definitely try this out.

Find my review on Goodreads

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

The final book of the month and it was amazing. It’s the story of a young girl named Ana who marries a man twice her age so she can move to America and live the American Dream. However, her husband isn’t so loving. She’s told to stay home and not talk to anyone. She’s basically a bird living in a tiny five-floor walkup in Harlem. When her husband goes back to the Dominican Republic to help fight in their cause, Ana finally feels a little bit of freedom and understands that America has a lot to offer her. Such a beautiful read about this young girl and how she makes the most of her time living in America.

Find my review on Goodreads

My plans for next month

Recently, I decided that I wanted to get my review game a little tighter. I love using Netgalley to request books especially since I’m shy and Netgalley provides you the opportunity to request books without having to email them directly. So, I plan on reading many of the books I have waiting for reviews including The Nickel Boys, The Paper Wasp, Descendants of the Crane, and more.

Also, I’ve been dying to read Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight series, so that’s another priority for me. I’ve been holding off on reading this one because a friend of mine would love to buddy read. I’m pretty terrible at buddy-reading, but with my new work schedule I think I can manage it.

And the last thing I want to read before the month is out is The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I read a good portion of this book earlier in July, but I want to use August to finish it. My library hold on the book finally came in, so I do have a limited timeline to read this before it has to go back to the library. We shall accomplish our dreams!

How did you make out this month?

 

June 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

June 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

Well, June, you’ve bested me. I wanted to spend this month reading books for myself, for Pride, and just getting back to what matters. Alas, I’m at a loss because this month beat me down with tons of work, catching up, and general June Gloom.

But the sun is shining and I think summer is finally in full swing. I hope to read some more fantasy especially those fantasy series that I’ve been collecting for years. I could really read those already lol.

This month, I got around seven books read. And while it looks like a lot of books, it feels like much less. June was definitely an experimental month while I tried to figure out my new work schedule and balancing reading for work and reading for myself. It really messed me up with my reading, but I think I have a formula now.

But I know July is going to be amazing and I’ll be reading in the heat of LA. Here’s what I read for June:

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

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Don’t let the book cover fool you. It may look like an innocent romcom, but it’s got the steamiest love scenes I’ve read in a romcom. I mean, I’ve read some pretty steamy scenes, but this one will leave you wanting you so much more. It’s got baseball, a determined female protagonist, and the bad boy that somehow is saved by the girl. I absolutely loved this story and while I can complain that the ending was a little cheesy, I would be doing myself a disservice. READ IT. You won’t regret it.

This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

Sadly, this was my least favorite book of the month. I think I was expecting a lot more from the book and that put my expectations super high. What I received is still a lovely novel from a prolific writer, but it wasn’t to my taste. I think this is the first time I’ve read a YA novel and actually felt too old to be reading them.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

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I said what I just said and then I read a book like Patron Saints of Nothing and was completely blown away. I mean, wow. The only other book I can recall written by a Filipino author is Cinelle Barnes’s Monsoon Mansion (which is a lovely novel and you should definitely read it), but it’s not exactly the same as this one. This one covers the issues of being born in America and not feeling like you belong. It covers the drug war happening in the Philippines right now. It also talks about learning that adults aren’t the smartest people and sometimes you need to stick to your own guns and your own beliefs.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

I honestly didn’t think I would get to this book this summer, but wow so glad I did. I took my sweet little time with this one because I’d been a bit burnt out from work. And I’m glad I took my time with this one because it’s probably the most visually beautiful fantasy novel I’ve read in a while. With such an easy premise to follow, this book discovers the beauty of Arabia and including language, monsters, and little touches of Arabic throughout the novel, you can’t help but to be completely enthralled in this book. Shukran to Hafsah Faizal for bringing her world to life in this beautiful first book to a series. I’ll be writing my full thoughts on this one this week so stay tuned.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

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I had planned to read more Pride books for this month, but it didn’t work out that way. However, that doesn’t mean my Pride month is over. I’ll be reading more books represented by the LGBTQIA+ community and I won’t just hold off for one month in the summer. That being said, I went into Girls of Paper and Fire with as much knowledge as any fantasy novel: none. I love how hidden Fantasy books keep everything and you just have to read and explore the book to find out more. This book definitely was an amazing read

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

What happens when the Prince of Wales and the First Son were to accidentally meet and possibly become lovers? Well, that’s what Casey McQuiston explored in this novel. I loved this book with its complicated love story and funny cast of characters. This is legit a wonderful summer book, so I hope you get a chance to check it out. Also, if you felt a little ennui after the 2016 election, it might give you a boost of confidence and hope that 2020 won’t be so emotionally tiresome.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

To finish this month, I snuck in one last book and I was so happy I did. My friends all read this one already and they all absolutely loved, so I went into this one with an open mind and an open heart. And it completely broke. Oh my goodness, this story was so good and funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. I laughed. I cried. I felt all the emotions I could feel in one book and it won’t disappoint you. While I finished the book today (not technically June finished, but I read most of this book yesterday), I’ll be writing my review and updating the blog with it later this week.

That’s it! Here’s to hoping for a more sane July filled with days at the beach and basking in the glorious summer sun. What did you read this month?

May 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

May 2019 Bookish Wrap Up

Happy End of May!

What a weird month it’s been. I don’t know about you, but it’s definitely been a weird one for me. I thought we would get a lot of reading done, but that’s a bust. I thought we would get a lot of writing done, but that feels busted too. It’s not like I sit at home doing nothing all day. Stuff gets done, but sometimes it feels like you’re always playing catch up. Is that the case for any of you?

In May, I read 10 books in total. 7 of those books are for myself and 3 were for work. As I started this month, I wanted to focus on books written by Asian American authors to celebrate Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month. While I knew I couldn’t dedicate my entire month to reading only Asian authors, I wanted the majority of my month to reflect that. I think I did a good job with 4/7 books I read being from Asian authors (which is more than 50% so I’m going to just be happy with that).

While I can’t talk about the books I read for work, I do know that two of them were by Asian authors as well. I want to note that, but not mention the specific titles because I can’t talk about them lol. Oh, the wonders of being a book reviewer.

My favorites of the month were most definitely With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo and Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim. Both of these books are inspired by food sharing recipes and heritage passed down by generations of cooks. They both share main characters with a passion for cooking and want to pursue it in some way.

However, you’ll get a different story from both. Elizabeth Acevedo’s book deals with a teenage mom theme, which I’ve never seen in stories before. I was so curious as to why more YA authors don’t explore this theme, but I hope With the Fire on High inspires other writers to dive into the topic. For Roselle Lim’s book, it’s more about loss and grief. I’ve read plenty of books regarding this topic, but this one seems to use it in a positive light to celebrate life instead of death.

Finally, I read Miracle Creek by Angie Kim because folks on the Internet was hyping this book up and I wanted to see what all the shouting was about. While I wasn’t completely enthralled by this read, I did find it interesting and kept my attention the entire novel. It’s definitely a great book for those who love a good courtroom drama and the secrets really keep themselves that way until the very end, which I love.

What did you read this month?

Weekend Wrap Up // May 17, 2019

Weekend Wrap Up // May 17, 2019

Happy Friday, everyone!

I know I posted this song last week, but now there’s a video and it’s seriously cute. I suggest you take a gander as Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber have some fun in front of a green screen.

I feel like there’s a trend of dudes creating music in honor of their significant others. With “Sucker” and now this, it feels like everyone is so happy to be married and in love. Maybe it’s just me, but I love me a good love anthem.

Links I Loved

The best news I heard this week (and the bar was pretty low this week, thanks America) is The Hating Game being turned into a movie! YAY! If you haven’t read The Hating Game, it’s a romcom written by Sally Thorne with an enemies-to-lover storyline. I love me some enemies to lovers and this book is definitely worth the purchase. While I’m not fully on board with the casting,

Riverhead is currently working to get Jacqueline Woodson’s new novel (Red at the Bone) into the hands of #ownvoices readers. Wow. I mean, wow. This is next level of the reader game. Many diverse readers have been slighted recently because of their numbers and books have been given out to a more white audience. This is a bad look especially since #ownvoices reviewers are able to talk to the nuances of a story. I think Riverhead taking the initiative to get a highly-anticipated novel into #ownvoices hands is the future. We should stop worrying about the number of followers someone has and more on how they can provide interesting insight into their reviews.

This recipe for the perfect peanut sauce. I made Pinch of Yum’s peanut sauce earlier this week to make a delicious and quick Pad Thai for lunch. The sauce is so umami with tons of peanut buttery goodness that I’ll be using the sauce to make a curry later this week. It’s definitely great to try unless you have a peanut allergy.

The Bachelorette started this week! I know people aren’t fans of The Bachelorette, but if you look at this as another fictional drama (where you have to admit, some of these personalities are totally put on) then it’s more enjoyable to watch. I love the antics, the drama, and the vying for one person. There was definitely drama in that first day, which is new and surprising. I mean, I know most of those dudes probably has a girl back home waiting in the wings (which is gross), but I hope the one Hannah chooses doesn’t break her heart. I do hope that Hannah B finds love because her message back at the end of The Bachelor was the perfect message for all people looking for love.

Blog Posts of the Week

I posted my thoughts on With the Fire on High this week. Wow, that book was so great. With the Fire on High explores the story of a young woman named Emoni who is just about to start the rest of her life. She’s entering her final year of high school without a clear understanding of what she wants only to emerge from that year more grown up, more mature, and filled with more love. It also explores the teen mother theme, which was interesting because I don’t think I’ve read any YA with a teen mother as the main character. It brings a lot of perspective and insight when you see her try to juggle her work, school, and taking care of her daughter. But you also see a lot of love, which makes me happy too. You can find it here on Amazon.

I got a little silly and posted what my dream library would look like. It’s a little bit of silly blog posting, but I thought it would be nice to daydream a little this week.

My thoughts on The Poppy War are also on the blog. The Poppy War was so good and if you’re into military fantasy or getting started with fantasy, this might be a good place to begin. It’s not too overdone with the magic, the world is easy to follow, and the story moves. You might feel intimidated to start this one, but the story moves quickly especially with its descriptions of its battles and the short-tempered dialogue Rin has with her comrades.

What I’m Reading this Weekend

Ok, this whole month is messed up for me in terms of reading. I’ve been trying to read Asian/Pacific Islander authors, but I’ve also got my work books and I’ve got a whole pile of books I bought recently I want to get into. I’m also doing some book promotions this summer and want to actually read those too.

So I think I’m going to read Miracle Creek by Angie Kim this weekend. I’ve heard this book is mind blowing and definitely worth the read, so I’m going to do it. I’m going to read it, see what all the hype is about and maybe reassess how I choose my books for June. Sheesh.

Weekend Wrap-up // May 10, 2019

Weekend Wrap-up // May 10, 2019

Happy Weekend, everyone! I know this is coming a little late in the day than I’m normally posting, but it’s been a long Friday with a lot of work on my plate. How’s your week been?

I’ve got a very quick jam of the week that’s been on repeat for a little bit now. Can you believe Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran did a collaborative song? I mean, that’s like two for the price of one and the song is really cute too.

This weekend is going to be a social one as I hang out with my book club, my book swap, and my bookish friends. I’ll definitely be doing some heavy hanging out. What about yourself?

Links I Loved

I really didn’t get a chance to look at the Internet this week! I’ve been so busy with finishing this book for work that I’ve just been crashing every night. But I did see some fun things.

The Met Gala was on Monday and I swooned over all things “camp.” Funnily, the Met took inspiration this year from an essay written by Susan Sontag called “Notes on Camp” that discusses the finer points on what camp is. If I could imagine going to the Met Gala, I think I would have been serving some Marie Antoinette realness with maybe a lavender beard for good measure.

I’m kind of obsessed with the new version of A Whole New World. I know I shouldn’t be because why mess with something that was amazing (I’m a huge fan of Aladdin), but this was great. I almost used it for my jam of the week, but then Justin Bieber had to just release another song.

I made a batch of gluten-free banana bread using this amazing recipe from Gimme Delicious. I haven’t baked bread things for a while mostly because I’m lazy, but it was nice to hop back into it. I won’t be joining the Great British Baking Show any time soon, but it keeps Bucky happy.

Blog Posts of the Week

I posted two book reviews (The Death of Mrs. Westaway and The Unhoneymooners), the LA Festival of Books and my thoughts on being a book reviewer. I think the most surprising is how many people responded to the book reviewer post. I hope I answered all your questions, but I do want to emphasize that this is a job you can go after. Just do some searches for book reviewer jobs. I think there are some that require you to work from an office while others are remote. Hope that helps!

What I’m Reading This Weekend

I definitely wanted to read something lighter this weekend after marathoning such a big fantasy novel during the week. I think I’m going to go with With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s got drama and growing up and it’s also about cooking. I absolutely love stories like this and I can’t wait to dive in. Here’s what the story is about:

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

What are you reading this weekend? Any plans?