Welcome to the Longest Day of the Year

I absolutely love today because of a few reasons:

  1. Today is my mother’s birthday
  2. Today is the longest day of the year

I sometimes imagine what it must be like to live in the Arctic circle where they have the longest days of any place in the entire world and that’s because it doesn’t get dark. Ever.

But for those of us that live in a slightly bigger city (or adjacent), we only get one day of the year where the sun stays out for a little bit longer than it would any other day.

And you all know what I’m going to be doing; reading.

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

If you haven’t noticed from my Instagram, I love being indoors. But B and I made it a point to get ourselves an apartment with a balcony so that we can spend some outside.

While not every reader is an introvert, I just happen to fit into the stereotype very well. I like my home and sitting on my green couch and staring out windows at the people enjoying the sunshine. Having a balcony really helps me to get my much needed Vitamin D without having to converse with other people or spend money on a ridiculously large cup of coffee.


Also, the privacy gives me the quiet I need to get some reading done. Sometimes when I go to a cafe or to the park, I get so distracted by all the people around. I want to people watch and not be buried deep in the passages of a novel.

Have you ever experienced this? Have you ever wanted to spend time outside and find yourself stuck on the inside?

Well, if you have, I dare you to step outside for a little while today before the sun goes down on this beautiful day. Or, you can always wait till next year.

Happy Solstice, everyone!


Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han


I love me some good old fashion young adult. No frills. No complications. The kinds of books that don’t surprise you with turmoil or unexpected struggles. It’s like reading a book about reality and sometimes in reality, there’s not a lot of drama for your mama.


30312860Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

My rating: 4/5 love letters


My thoughts

Lara Jean and the three Song girls have been my favorites ever since I picked up To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. You know me, I’ve always got to go for the diversity angle, so when I heard that the girls were half-Korean, I got a little excited to read it.

But the reason why I love the diversity angle so much is because there’s that small amount of resonance between the author and the reader. The way that the girls were raised with understanding and appreciating their Korean culture is exactly how I was raised. Even in a household when only half of the family is Korean, it was still important. I believe it’s important to always have that deep connection with your history and culture no matter what it is.

Getting back to the book though, this was such a lovely way to wrap up the entire series. It reminded me of a Morgan Matson novel in which there’s some real life drama for a 17-year-old to manage and it wasn’t earth-shattering, but it felt real. What do you do when you’re deciding on the next steps of your life? What happens after high school? All those thoughts about that post-high school life rear its head back up here.


I loved that Jenny Han used her alma-mater as one of the possible schools Lara Jean would end up going. It’s always fun to know a little bit about the author and see how their personality is sort of injected into parts of their novel. As they always say, it’s better to write what you know.

But I think what I loved the most is that you’re transported back to being a high school senior. Not to get personal, but my life right now is pretty messy with not having a job and finding a new apartment and getting a new car. It’s all these adult responsibilities and Jenny Han’s novels have always been a nice escape from those things. I don’t have to be an adult for a little while because I’m wrapped up in where Lara Jean wants to go to college, what will happen with her and Peter, and finding yourself a bit better.

If you’re trying to find something not too complicated and just a really enjoyable read, then I would recommend this series.


Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Remember, it’s only a game…

Maybe it’s me or the most recent weeks, but I’ve been watching and reading a lot about warp realities and the mind playing tricks on you. What is real? What’s not real? How can you tell the difference?

In a world where you can’t tell what’s real and what’s not real, how do you know who your allies are? Who can you trust?

You can easily say the same with the characters in Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com) 

27883214Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Rating: 5/5 buttons

My thoughts


What I would do for a letter to arrive to me with an exciting journey to a magical place. I’ve been waiting for my Hogwarts letter since I was a kid. Still haven’t gotten it yet.

For Scarlett, it came at the most inappropriate time; ten days before her wedding to a guy she doesn’t know. While she’s wanted to be invited since she was a kid, it wasn’t until she was an adult and getting married to someone that it finally happens. I think there’s a strong metaphor in where childhood fantasies end and real life begin. Stephanie Garber makes an amazing argument that sometimes we all need a little magic in our lives regardless of how old you are.

And Scarlett deserves it. I don’t want to give anything away, but living the life she’s had I’m surprised that she came out of her younger years with the hope of magic still in tact.

I love that Scarlett makes mistakes and tries things that fail. I love how human she is and how slowly she learns the magic of Caraval. I think that if she found things out quickly or tested a theory and it worked on the first try then the story would be a little less believable. She’d be a little less relatable and maybe even a less interesting novel. Who gets everything handed to them on a platter?


For a fantasy novel, there isn’t a lot of world-building but in this case I think it’s fine since the majority of the novel takes place in a fantastical world within the world. For most world-building, you’re assuming that the characters will be roaming across this world to do whatever it is that they need to. Because Caraval is specifically about the game, the only world you really need to understand is Caraval and Stephanie Garber does a good job at that.

However, I would have loved to feel a little bit more a part of this world. While Stephanie Garber includes handwritten letters throughout the story, I’d love to see the green glass key or the carousel or even the room of stars at the very end. I get that it’s up for your mind to make up what these places will look like, I think if every chapter started with a little illustration then it’d really bring you further into this story.


Finally, I also wonder if Stephanie Garber has synesthesia. I don’t know how to describe it well, but it’s your brain processing two things at once or doing them together. For example, some people are able to perceive different colors or numbers when associating a word, a person, or a food. It’s like two sensory parts of your brain combining together to create one. Anyway, the way Scarlett associates people with color and smells feels like she may be dipping into that part of her brain capacity. It’s quite interesting and it makes me wonder if the author is as well.


Next Year, For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson


Imagine if you were in a relationship and completely happy. Blissfully happy in the same routines you’re always used to doing. You’re always sure you’ll come home to someone.

Then suddenly, your significant other tells you that they’re interested in someone else. How do you react?

This book is about the value of a relationship. How some people move from one partner to the next like stones skipping in a river and how other people enjoy that sinking feeling of being with someone you love.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)

30201150After nine years together, Kathryn and Chris have the sort of relationship most would envy. They speak in the shorthand they have invented, complete one another’s sentences, and help each other through every daily and existential dilemma. When Chris tells Kathryn about his feelings for Emily, a vivacious young woman he sees often at the Laundromat, Kathryn encourages her boyfriend to pursue this other woman—certain that her bond with Chris is strong enough to weather a little side dalliance.

As Kathryn and Chris stumble into polyamory, Next Year, For Sure tracks the tumultuous, revelatory, and often very funny year that follows. When Chris’s romance with Emily grows beyond what anyone anticipated, both Chris and Kathryn are invited into Emily’s communal home, where Kathryn will discover new romantic possibilities of her own. In the confusions, passions, and upheavals of their new lives, both Kathryn and Chris will be forced to reconsider their past and what they thought they knew about love.

Rating: 4/5 partners

My thoughts


I have a lot of thoughts about this one. If you can artistically create a relationship with words, this might be the best example of it. At first, I thought this was some book about some dude who is bored with their current mate and looking for another. Granted, I don’t like Chris because he’s the type of insecure human being who can’t be with someone in a committed relationship. However, this book turns out to be the analysis of relationship all together.

When we first hear about Chris and his myriad of relationships, you think to yourself that he’s so womanizing jerk who drops one girl for another girl because of the way they look or their interest. But it turns out that he’s extremely insecure and doesn’t know what he wants for himself. It’s a tough lesson to learn especially when there are other people involved.

I think the entire story is an allegory on the types of people we tend to turn into in a relationship; those people who are completely dependent on the other. The people who don’t remember who they were before they fell in love. Being in a committed and long relationship myself, you can definitely feel a struggle to maintain a semblance of your “True Self” and also be with someone else.

Relationships are a shared life, not a single one. What you do may have cause and effect on your partner and that’s clearly what’s happening here with Chris and Kathryn. Chris finds someone else. They form some strange triad, not necessary a poly relationship but three people all involved in the same relationship. You see Kathryn peer off to someone else. You see Kathryn be happy. You see Chris miss all the little things about his relationship with Kathryn. Did Chris make a mistake? That’s the ultimate question.


The writing is quite simple, but beautiful. For a debut novel, I’m surprised the author didn’t go full tilt on eloquent writing. But the story has got a bit of depth. You can’t take it at face value. This isn’t a story about a dude who has two girlfriends. It’s more about finding yourself in the niche of a loved one. It’s more about seeing yourself be with someone else. It’s beautiful and while not the most thrilling novel I read (hence the four stars), it’ll definitely leave you thinking, who am I? Is this the person I want to be?

A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab


If you’re into video games, this book and its series definitely feels like you’re playing one. I think that goes double for A Conjuring of Light in which they have to fight a mega boss; a shadowy creature that inhabits its prey and forces them to do things. What would you do with your rag-tag team of magical people trying to save London?

If you’re into anime, this is also a good one for you. I could easily see this book series as an animated series as well. I guess that’s why it’s being optioned right now for a TV show!

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)

29939230Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

Rating: 3/5 black-eyed princes

My thoughts


I want to be really honest with you here. I love this book. I love this series. I love that it’s come to an end and everything is tied up into a nice little bow. But there was something about reading it that irked me. I think it had something to do with the length.

VE Schwab is an incredible author, but like many fantasy writers she falls prey to the world she’s creating. Every scene is detailed. Every movement is described. And for some, that’s an interesting part of the book. It helps to create the scene in their head. For others (like myself), it’s a little too much and sometimes it takes away from the rest of the story.

I don’t want my review here to influence you to not like this book. There will be tons of reviews who praise this book and find it to be an amazing end to a series. Trust me, I agree with those reviewers myself. But being the individual I am and the reader I am, I was a little disappointed by how long this final story was and how it dragged out a little bit. It’s the kind of thing that makes me like a story less. I’m sorry!

However, getting back to the good parts of this book, I swear it reads like either an anime or a video game. While you don’t get to learn about what Osaron actually is, you get to learn about Holland’s background. You get an ending that wraps up the entire series perfectly. You don’t get to learn about the origins of Kelly, but you’ll get some love action between Kell and Lila.

I think this books definitely has its ups and downs, but I want to stress how that’s never important to a novel. If the book is well written, it’s well written despite the things the author chose to omit. Perhaps they’ll be a prequel! Then that’ll be really fun.




Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan


This is probably the first story I’ve read where I don’t understand the Asians in the story. It’s because they’re super rich and I’m not super rich. It’s because it takes place in Singapore and honestly, I don’t know much about Singapore outside of their food.

However, what I did understand is that this story is about a couple who is ready to take their relationship to the next level and really being met with some pretty huge hurdles to jump. I think that’s something everyone can agree on.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)

18373213When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

Rating: 4.5/5 mother-in-laws

My thoughts

I thought a lot about this book after I put it down. I thought a lot about the lives they lived and the sacrifices they’ve had to make. And while I don’t fully understand the whole importance of money with these families, I do understand the pressures of marrying the right person. I understand the pressures of having a life set out by you by your family, by your parents, by the constant peer pressure. And I bet you that you’ve felt the same way too.

Writing wise, it’s beautiful and eloquent. Kevin Kwan tries to immerse you in the culture speaking both in English and using some popular phrases in all the different dialects. Even the little footnotes to give a little background on some of the meanings and food that’s mentioned is just a little opportunity for you to understand a little bit more.

I want to give this book its full marks, but I don’t think it’s 100% perfect. It’s really well done and a great read, but I honestly wish it was a bit more from the perspective of Rachel. This book is almost like reading Game of Thrones. There should have been a family tree at the beginning so I can refer back to it. There are so many family members interconnected with each other in some way, I’m surprised that Kevin Kwan was able to keep track of all of it in the way that he did.


I think that’s the one thing you can definitely get out of this; understanding. If you go into this book with an open mind and a learning mind, I think you’ll find yourself learning a little bit more about Asian culture. While I didn’t fully resonate with the story going on, I did understand some of the biases and thought processes because they are the same as the ones my family has.

That’s the thing with diverse reads. You end up learning way more about yourself and how you’re not so different from the person sitting next to you. We’re all the same people with the same kinds of lives. And if it’s not the same or if there’s nothing in common, then you’ve just learned something unique and different about it.

Anyway, I really did enjoy this book despite my chagrin on social media (if you follow me on Insta, you might know what I mean). When you finally get a chance to sit down with it, you find yourself engrossed in the story. It’s like watching a little Korean drama. Every vignette feeds into a bigger story and everyone is so involved with each other it’s a little scary.

I’m super excited about the movie! It’ll be the first all-Asian cast coming out of a major Hollywood production company. And also starring my favorite actress, Constance Wu! I can’t wait!

What were your thoughts on Crazy Rich Asians?



How to manage emotionally triggering books


Is it weird when I call a book “emotionally triggering,” I’m talking about the passive of time in the book rather than anything else?

I can deal with my fair share of self-harm, sexual abuse, and even suicide. When a book writes about them (and they do it well), I find it most fascinating and continue to read instead of depressing and want to put the book down.

However, you mention the passive of time and getting older and being on your deathbed and I’m an emotional wreck.

I’m currently reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, and if you haven’t already heard of this book it’s an emotional time bomb. Each section of the book brings forth something else that will break you down, make you cry, or leave you in the dark of your bedroom with a full blown anxiety attack. Almost every review (despite its star rating) has said “THIS BOOK IS DEPRESSING AS FUCK. HEED CAUTION.” Who would ever want to read a book like that?

But people do and they all fall prey to its emotional triggers and depression. Every time someone mentions how old they are and how their bodies and deteriorating and culling up dead people, then I’m in the dark having an anxiety attack. It’s got something for everyone!


For the most part, if a book is emotionally triggering for me (and many are. How do you write an adult book that doesn’t talk about existential crisis?) I will put it down. If it’s not worth my time reading or if the book straight up sucks the I won’t do it. I’ll just put it down, remove it from my Goodreads, and not mention it again. I won’t write a review. I won’t talk about it with friends. If a book is emotionally triggering for me, it might not be for anyone else so I don’t bring up my opinions on it because I would rather someone read it for themselves.

22822858However, this book is good. The writing is beautiful albeit a little heavy on the descriptors and unnecessary comments. And yes, emotionally triggering. So I’m stuck at this crossroads where I need to decide if I want to continue reading the book despite its emotional triggers, or if I should put the book down and go the route that I’m used to.

And I’ve decided that I’m going to continue reading it. But how do I manage the emotional triggers? How do I get passed them and still enjoy the book. I’ve basically put together a list of ways I can manage this emotion and continue on. I hope you enjoy it!


1. It’s just a book. If you’re a big fantasy book reader always wanting to ship your OTP and bust out the knives and guns to defeat the bad guy, then you might be one of those Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole falling people who have pretty bad book hangovers. You get lost in the book. You find yourself traipsing along through a story as if you’re standing beside the main character. What they feel, you feel. It’s a great feeling and one of the ones that really makes me love reading. However, you need to draw a line when it comes to the emotionally difficult stuff. If you find yourself trapped in the abuse of a character or tripping down a dark path, you have to remember that it’s just a book. It’s fiction. It’s a fantasy. It’s something that someone made up in their brain, put to words, and got some sadistic publisher to publish. It’s just a book and reality is waiting outside your bedroom door and reality isn’t as bad as the book you’re reading.


2. Take breaks. It’s so crucial that when you’re reading a book that is emotionally triggering and an amazing read is to take breaks. Take 5 minutes. Take an hour. Set a timer on your phone. If you’ve got one of those smart watches or a Fitbit, then set it to tickle you every hour and take a walk. Sometimes the cause for the emotion draining is the fact that you’ve spent too much time stuck in the book’s story and you need to pull yourself out. Forcing yourself to take a break while you read will refocus your brain to the reality of things. It’s a sunny day. There’s a dog sleeping at your feet. There’s a cat swatting at your water glass. If you take a break and look around or walk around, your brain will naturally pull itself out of the emotionally draining and give you the energy you need to continue reading.

3. Keep distractions close by. This kind of goes along with taking breaks. If you’re like me and you think about books long after you’ve finished reading them, then you need to  refocus your brain on something else. I don’t want to say “distract” yourself because that implies almost a bandage to the wound rather than a fix. However, if you’re able to refocus your brain on another activity then you’re not distracting yourself from the inevitable continuation of reading, but taking your mind completely off the book and doing something else for a while. It’s a method used for people with have obsessive thoughts (like me). Don’t “distract” yourself, but refocus your brain to do something else other than thinking about the book. I like Candy Crush personally as a way to stimulate my brain and refocus.

4. Learn to know when to let go. The final step is basically pulling the ripcord. While you may try to be as strong as you can be when reading an emotionally triggering book, sometimes the themes and the story are just too much. In this case, you need to let the book go. I’ve come across so many books where I thought it was enjoyable but then feel emotionally triggered by one little theme that runs through the entirety of the book that I had to let it go. It’s tough for us book readers especially since we’re all about reading what’s new and interesting and possible award winners. I feel a little bit of pressure to read and enjoy some very popular books because everyone else is reading them. Granted this is all in my head and I can easily turn it off, but it’s an insecurity of mine. But knowing when to let a book go or stop reading when you’re feeling emotionally triggered is like learning that what you’re going through isn’t the definer of your being. It’s like CBT to know when enough is enough. You have control and it’s as easy as closing the book.


Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – Book Review

28214365 A story about how the decisions you make for yourself can trigger effects across everyone you love.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com) –

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

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.

Rating: 4/5 stars

My thoughts – Have you ever considered if the decisions you make for yourself somehow effect the people around you? Thinking that way would probably put you on eggshells for the rest of your life. For the most part, we all do what makes us happy. It’s what we’re taught when we’re young. But what happens when what makes you happy makes everyone miserable?

In Commonwealth, Ann Patchett explores what happens when you do. After Bert and Beverly kiss at Franny’s christening party, it ends up setting off a chain reaction of events. First, they get divorced from their former lovers and then get married. Then, they move to Virginia causing their kids to shuttle between the West Coast and the East Coast every summer. The cause of all these events leads to their children hating them.

And perhaps you can say that the events that happened to them as they spent their summers in Virginia was the catalyst for the rest of their life. Ann Patchett took a lot of time to really bring out these characters. Since there are six kids between Beverly and Bert as well as their exes, there’s a lot of ground to cover. While I did love the character development, I feel like the plot of the story suffered a little bit from it. It’s why I didn’t give it that last star.

However, the story idea is intriguing and what really made me think after I put the book down. What have I done in my life that might have affected the life of someone else? I think we all do things with the best of intentions and in some place somewhere far away there’s someone who is affected by it.

An example I can think of is my day job. If I were to leave, what would happen to the people I work with? Yes, they’ll be fine, but they’ll also have another manager and perhaps they may consider their own careers. For better or worse. It’s difficult to be selfish, but sometimes life requires you to be selfish. Sometimes you just need to be selfish to be happy because your current situation makes you miserable.

I think what you need to remember is that even though you’re making decisions for yourself, others may also be along for that ride. If that’s the case, take a moment to remember them. Empathize with their feelings, get their opinions, and if you do go ahead with your plans, never leave them out. You may never know what may happen to them down the line.