I’m making an earnest TBR for August because I can’t be trusted

I bought way too many books this month and it’s only day 9! At this rate I’ll be building a fort and living in my books. Also I’ve been pretty lazy with reading and instead have been watching The Bachelorette. I’m still sore about the ending!

In an effort to keep myself in check and read more books, I’m making myself a TBR for August. I don’t normally do this because I feel like I always end up changing my mind or reading something else, but this month I’m determined to read all of these books. Don’t try to stop me, Smee!

It’s a pretty long list and it’s got some great reads. I know I won’t get through everything but at least I’ll get through most. Wish me luck!

You can find out more about the books I’m reading after the jump!

Continue reading “I’m making an earnest TBR for August because I can’t be trusted”

Celebrate Black History Month with Some Amazing Fiction

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Welcome to February! What is with February and being all romantic and lovely and all those good things in the world? It’s like December is all about Christmas even though there’s so much more going on in December than just Christmas.

But February is also Black History Month and being an advocate for diverse reads, I’ve got to put in a plug for some of my very favorite reads. You can go hardcore and read Frederick Douglass or Malcolm X. You can listen to Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on repeat. Do whatever it is you want to do, but do it in celebration of black culture.

Before I get into my quick list of recommended reading for the month, I want to mention (as I tend to do from time to time) that diverse reads are so important. Many people (including myself) believe that racism is an extension of fear and ignorance. Why not break that stigma and read about other cultures!

Books about cultures aside from our own (or even our own, let’s not forget we come from somewhere!) opens up our minds to how other people live and exist in the world. We are humans and each of us holds traditions and heritage and culture different from the person you’re sitting next to. Why not celebrate our differences, learn a little bit about being someone else, and spread the good love across this universe.

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Anyway, here’s a few of my favorite books to read during this month as well as a few I’ve got on my TBR for the rest of February. Let’s celebrate diversity and learn more about what it’s like to be on the other side of the pendulum OF LIFE!

Continue reading “Celebrate Black History Month with Some Amazing Fiction”

2017 Sabbatical Reading Challenge – An update

Hey folks!

I’m finally back from my two-week long vacation, which basically extended to three weeks because the week we came back was such a jet lag black hole. I just sat around for a few days watching enormous amounts of TV and eating every single snack I bought in Hawaii.

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But now I’m back. I’ve already added a few posts on the blog, but my New Years resolution is to write more topics here and not just book reviews. So I figured I’d write up a quick note on my reading list.

In the month of January, I only read three books. Two of the three were books from the list. Plus Isla and the Happily Ever After which I read in like two days because it’s so great.

If I continue at this rate, I’ll finish the list in seven and a half months.giphy1

That is much longer than I hoped for. You can find the original post here.

But that’s ok! If this is my tbr list for the next six months, then BRING IT ON! I’ve now made it my yearly goal to finish these books. I think I can do it! I’d be more than happy to read all these books this year. Also, excited to read some other anticipated reads! It’s just going to be a good reading year either way. Here’s an updated view of my book list. Who else is challenging themselves this way this year?

 

The 2017 Sabbatical Reading List

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Ok, so here’s the deal; I’m taking a six-week paid sabbatical from work and it starts TODAY.

I work for a pretty awesome company that allows their long-standing employees to take a six-week paid vacation after five years of service. Well, I’ve been there for seven years so here’s my reward.

You must be wondering what I’ll be doing during that time. Well, guess what. I’m going to read. I’ve got a TBR the size of Mount Everest and I want to cut it down by half by the end of my sabbatical. It’s really ambitious, for sure, but when you’re adult and all your responsibilities are taken away from you and there’s tons of time to do nothing, then you get ambitious.

I’m super excited to start and I’ve already put together a list of some of the books I’ll be reading. Here’s my official/unofficial list. Please note that these are in no particular order:

Ok, you know that I’m going to try and stick to this list as best as possible, but there may be times I will journey off the list to read, say, the Throne of Glass series? Or finish all of The Raven Boys? There’s a lot of variables.

So, is there some truth in this list? Maybe. But I would still take it with a grain of salt.

December 2016 TBR – #readthemargin

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Recently, a fellow book blogger going by the name of @ladybookmad created a new hashtag called #readthemargin for the month of December.

What’s the point of the tag? Well, because there’s a want and need to read more diverse books. As an Asian American woman, I want to educate my fellow readers on the different cultures and backgrounds . Also, it feels good to relate to the people and places I read about.

So, I’ve dedicated my December TBR not only to reading authors on the margins of society, but also to read a little bit of the people that make up a huge part of my being. I hope you’re reading the margin, or at least taking some time to read.

The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

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Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.

Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

18373213When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. 
 
On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

23398763“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, drama, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever. 

 

October 2016 Library Book Haul

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started loving books or going to the library, but I did. I don’t even think it had anything to do with the books, but the fact that there’s this public place you can come to and study, rent books, and escape from reality. Because the truth is that only a certain kind of person goes to the library and those people are the dreamers.

Scratch that, the truth is that homeless people go to the library because it’s warm and there’s a free bathroom.

But I go to the library or a bookstore or any place you can patron that has books because I’m just your typical book lover. I love to read books, be around books, and generally want to be a book.

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There’s a magic when you arrive. The air is musty from the older reference books and the temperature is cold to keep the publicly used computers nice and cool.

My childhood library was amazing. There were three stories of books all ranging from children’s to research and I remember spending my time from when I was really young (maybe 6-7) to when I graduated from high school there. I’d be a part of the reading program every summer and at one point wanted to work at the library. I ended up spending my lunch periods in high school helping out in the school library and putting books back on the shelf. I was that lame.

It took me a while to get back to the library mostly because there was a scene in the movie The Squid and the Whale where the young kid masturbates in the stacks and then wipes his semen on the spines of the books. That swore me off from those books for a few years. I didn’t want to touch nasty books especially when I live in the same city as the characters from that movie.

But I’ve managed to quell my OCD thoughts from what might be on those books and started to take advantage of the library system again.

All of this to say, I’ve got some great reads from the library and I’m sharing them with you now.

272461151. Siracusa by Delia Ephron – New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage. 

Ephron delivers a meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none can see coming.

I was going to read this right after I finished Commonwealth, but I’m starting to see that maybe this one is a little too close to what I’m reading now. I might hold off while I get a palate cleanser in there.

268938192. The Girls by Emma Cline – Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

I’ve been going back and forth with this one. In fact, this is my second time borrowing this book from the library because I haven’t made up my mind if I should read it or not. It’s because I like stories about Charles Manson, but I don’t want to read about the horrendous acts he made those people do.

Coincidentally, my office decided to have a book discussion on this read in a few weeks, so I figured I’ll read it with the intention of going to this book discussion and see how I feel about it.

286868403. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven – Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Ugh, I can already tell by the looks of this novel that it’s going to thrash my soul. I love Jennifer Niven and I was a huge fan of All the Bright Lights. Jennifer Niven has a tendency to hit some serious issues as well (depression, suicidal thoughts), so hopefully this won’t throw me into a panic.

274144344. The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia – Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

I think this one will be the book I read next since it’s a little bit more light-hearted (ish) and not too close to Commonwealth’s plot. I’m actually really excited because I loved Beautiful Creatures and sometimes I guiltily re-watch the movie.

What about you? Do you love the library?

I love the Fall and my 2016 Fall TBR

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It’s mid-September and the cool breeze of autumn started to settle amongst the crevices of the city. Soon it will be so cold you need several layers to sit comfortably in your home before the landlord decides to turn on the heat.

Fall must be the designated season for reading. It must have something to do with going back to school and opening new notebooks and fresh pens and buying books for class. It might have something to do with the cool weather and cuddling in close with a good read.

I thought I would prepare myself for the cozy comforts of Fall with a few books to nourish my heart and my mind. I’ve never planned out the books I’ll be reading and I know I won’t be reading all the new books that just released because I’m always behind with what’s trendy (in my book life and my real life). So here’s a quick list of some of the books that sound interesting to me and I’d love to read this Fall:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoingtraces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

29429875Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now?introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

32 Yolks by Eric Ripert

25937923Before he earned three Michelin stars at Le Bernardin, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef, or became a regular guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, and even before he knew how to make a proper omelet, Eric Ripert was a young boy in the South of France who felt that his world had come to an end. The only place Eric felt at home was in the kitchen. His desire to not only cook, but to become the best would lead him into some of the most celebrated and demanding restaurants in Paris.

 

 

 

Shrill by Lindy West

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

22299763Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

 

Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

I wonder if within the three months of Fall I’ll be able to read all of these. Will I give up at some point? Will I want to move something to the next season? Will I end up reading another book from my endlessly growing pile of novels? I think it’ll be interesting to see what I end up reading even if I planned it all out ahead of time. I guess my interest in a book just comes with my mood (who would have thought?)

I do know that I will be enjoying the cool breeze and a warm cup of tea as I go through these. What does your Fall look like?