Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

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I’ve read all the books in the CRAZY RICH ASIANS series not because I’m Asian and it’s a book about Asians. I honestly don’t relate to these people at all and that’s mostly because I don’t come from money. However, it’s like watching an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous where you get a glimpse into that world. Instead of using white people from America, Kevin Kwan decided to use one of the wealthiest countries in the world for his backdrop; Singapore.

Each book has been unique and having Rachel, the only character who wasn’t rich, was like having a guide while you popped into these lives. However, I was a little bit disappointed by RICH PEOPLE PROBLEMS. I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, here’s a little bit more about the book:

When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside–but he’s not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls.

With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park–a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore–the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises.

As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife–a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette.

RICH PEOPLE PROBLEMS was a tad disappointing for me. I honestly thought it was because the story about Rachel meeting Nick’s rich family for the first time wrapped up at the end of CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND. However, this book started off strong with Su Yi getting sick. This is supposed to be the penultimate point in their lives; waiting for this super rich grandma to die. It seemed a little bit petty, but from the characters that we’ve already been introduced to, it made sense with their personalities.

What I found the most interesting was reading about Su Yi’s life. How she escaped to Thailand during Japanese occupation. How she saved ambassadors from other countries by keeping them at Tyersall Park. I felt like this book could have been a flashback between her younger years and the final moments she’s spending with her family.

Obviously Kevin Kwan’s writing was just as witty as it was in his last two books. I’m not a huge fan of footnotes, but he definitely got me into them. However, I felt this book was a little too long and a little too drawn out. I thought everything leading up to Su Yi’s death made sense, but for some reason the end took forever to get there.

It definitely felt like this book was wrapping up every loose end. Of course, the big plot point was figuring out who would be getting the house. It was the jewel of the family’s eye and everyone wanted a piece of it. Once they found out who got the house, then the story became a bit convoluted and long. Even in the book’s timeline, it took months to raise enough money and it took months to decide on which plan to go with. It was exhausting and if this was my grandma’s house, I would want to speed this up as quickly as I can. I think it only took a week for my family to take care of my grandfather’s stuff when he died. Then again, I’m not rich.

This is that constant thread that runs through the whole story and quite honestly, boring without Rachel as the foil. That’s right. I said it. Rich people are boring. Reading about them spending money and spending some more money and making rash decisions to spend money is not compelling writing. I think Kevin Kwan hit a sweet spot with Rachel and Nick. The young woman who comes from no money inundated with the super rich and how she tries to navigate through that. That’s compelling stuff! Reading about rich people getting richer or even getting a little poorer isn’t that entertaining.

I honestly wished that maybe one of those super rich folks would go bankrupt and learn how to live on a budget or try and get a real job. When I think of rich people problems, I think of them losing all that wealth. I guess that does happen in a way, but it doesn’t seem like a real struggle or conflict for anyone involved.

Also, there was a ton of sabotage. I don’t remember the last two novels being so wrought with sabotage, but people were backstabbing like it was going out of style. It was really frustrating to read someone as good as Astrid being smeared because she loved the wrong person. It was super frustrating to read Eddie’s attempts to thwart Nick out of Su Yi’s will. I understand that that kind of thing exists when it comes to money and getting money, but it seemed so petty and a little bit too dramatic.

Flaws aside, I did rate this book at three stars. It did wrap up the CRAZY RICH ASIANS stories with a cute little million dollar bow, but I feel like maybe Kevin Kwan was struggling a little bit with figuring that part out. It was fun while it lasted, but like money, it doesn’t last for long.

  • Hardcover: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (May 23, 2017)
  • Rating: 3/5 stars
  • Buy Rich People Problems on Amazon

Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

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What if you found out that your long lost father was just as rich as your friends were? What if you went from nothing to something in a blink of an eye? What if all this news brought some more troubling issues into your life?

China Rich Girlfriend is the sequel to the popular Crazy Rich Asians (currently in production, which I might add is super exciting) and carries with it the overwrought drama you would see in a Korean drama. Extremely enjoyable!

The plot

28503789On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiancé willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it’s like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.

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My thoughts

Without being too biased here, I thought China Rich Girlfriend was an absolute blast to read. It almost felt like I was reading a movie or like watching an episode of Gossip Girl where money needs to stick with money and those with new money can never be a part of the inner circle.

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There were several different stories going on at the same time. We first have our Rachel and Nick getting married and starting their life together when lo and behold (SPOILERS) Rachel is reunited with her birth father who just so happens to be this rich politician living in Shanghai.

So off Nick and Rachel go to China to meet her dad and hang out with her new family. Obviously long lost kids don’t just show up and everything is fine, so the story begins to twist and turn as a family tries to figure out how to manage their feelings (and their money) with a new face.

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Then we have Astrid and her sadness. If you read Crazy Rich Asians, then you already know that Astrid is not in the best state of affairs and the story here gets more intense as her husband tries to get a hold of himself with his new money. Remember, old money and new money just don’t mix so obviously drama ensues.

Finally, there’s Kitty Pong. That’s right. Kitty. Pong. The actress that marries the rich guy gets a small story threaded throughout the novel. However, I will admit I was disappointed when I learned about what happened to her husband.

The writing was great. It was eloquent and verbose (I’m working on my vocabulary), but while describing some crazy drama. And of course, there was no limit on the ridiculously rich lifestyles of these characters. Honestly, I felt like I was one of them while I stood on public transportation on my way to my minimum wage day job.

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All in all, I actually thought this novel was better than the first. I’m really happy that the new one is finally out. You know I’ll be compulsively picking that one up.

 

March 2017 Bookish Wrap Up

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Middle of the month isn’t so bad to post a March recap, right? It’s been a really busy time here at my real job and (surprise!) I’m getting married, so my hobbies have taken a little dip in productivity. I swear I’m coming back!

Onto the recap; I read four amazing reads during the month of March. I noticed recently that all of the books I’ve chosen to read have been pretty amazing. Even my TBR has so many books I’m excited to read (although I can’t read as fast as I accumulate). It makes me really happy I have such great reads. Here’s the rundown:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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When 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.

A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab

29939230THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
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.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
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?

WHO WILL RISE?
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.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

Next Year For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson

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.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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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.

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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?

 

 

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.