Posted in Reviews

Review: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Recommended: for certain people
For folks who love food or have strong memory associations with it, for a heartwrenching amount of grief, for (seemingly, I guess who knows what she kept to herself) total honesty and dull blunt assessments of some of the most painful moments in her life, for little splashes of joy, for baffling contrasts of explosive anger and tender love

Summary

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Thoughts

I guess I didn’t expect or realize that this would be a memoir entirely via food. I’m not terribly interested in descriptions of food or eating or cooking or really much of anything about food, so this was honestly a struggle for me. Pretty much my own fault, but I still would have given this a go had I realized, I just would have been more prepared for it. There are a lot of sections that are entirely about different ingredients, or the process of cooking a meal, or the experience of eating it. If food holds memories for you (or you just like food I guess) then it probably won’t be any issue. This is a huge part of why I didn’t connect to or enjoy this one much, as much as you can “enjoy” such a sad focus in a memoir.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Recommended: eh
For Hades and Persephone sex scenes, for another angle of these characters, for some great creative imaginings of other gods and their world. Not for terribly interesting characters or plot conflicts

Summary

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.

After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.

Thoughts

I finally read this after borrowing it from Hoopla like eight times! It was decent. Thankfully it was more tame than the other Scarlett St. Clair book I read without realizing their, uh, style of writing. xD It can get distracting.

Anyway, my favorite thing about the story was probably the connections to other stories I’ve read fictionalizing Persephone and Hades. It’s fun to tease out the common thread of the original story by seeing what themes come up repeatedly. Minthe, Tartarus, pomegranates, and even pink dresses. Somehow it’s all connected! Delightful.

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Posted in Book Talk

Top Ten Tuesday: Wishlist Books 🥰

Hey y’all! Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish question idea that was originally created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, from way back in June 2010! Since January 2018, Top Ten Tuesday has been hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Thanks for taking it over! The idea is to make a list of ten books or bookish things on different topics each week. Check out her site for details on how to join and what the upcoming prompts are. 😊 You can also see all the posts from other bloggers linked on each weekly post on their main site.

This week’s prompt is to share books on a wish list, in the hopes that someone might grant one. Frankly I don’t expect that because it seems a lot to ask strangers or vague acquaintances to spend money on me. Still, here’s the list of ones mostly under $10 USD in case anyone feels struck. I’m looking at this as more of a way to share some good deal going on right now. Currently these are all on sale (thanks BookBub!) for way cheaper than usual!

The Ten Wishes

Here’s the wishlist with these books to see if they are still on sale, as well as a few others that are closer to full price if anyone is feeling particularly generous. If anyone does actually send me something, consider making it a book you love or recommend! I’d especially love that community aspect we have here on top of the generosity. ❤

$1.99

$2.99

$4.99

$7.99

$10-$12

Thanks y’all! Hope you can snag a discounted book for yourself. 🙂 Drop a link to your own Top Ten Tuesday post (and/or wishlist!) for this week!

Posted in Reviews

Review: A Hundred Silent Ways by Marie Jojie

A Hundred Silent Ways: A Novel by Mari Jojie

Recommended: yes!!
For a romance and a falling out of love, for grief and recovery, for guilt and hope, for a portrayal of a deaf character who is so much more than that

Summary

On the brink of a crumbling marriage, Kate Pineda-McDowell runs away from the only life she has ever known—straight into the heart of the Philippines where her estranged father lives. As she waits for her connecting flight from Tokyo to Manila, she meets Liam Walker, whose disquieting stares express deeper things than his reluctant words. Unbeknownst to both, their chance meeting circles back to a closely linked past that holds little hope for new beginnings.

Shortly after arriving in Manila, Kate finds herself drawn to seek out Liam. In a span of a few magical days, what began as a spark ignites into an electric affair that compels Liam to let someone into his silent world while Kate confronts her heartbreaking sorrows. But falling for each other means opening old wounds and revealing their most intimate yearnings.

Emotionally gripping and endearingly hopeful, “A Hundred Silent Ways” examines the many different paths people take to obtain a second chance at happiness while asking the most heartrending question of all: How much are we willing to endure to keep love alive?

Thoughts

I adored this book. Maybe I knew and forgot somehow, but one of the main characters is deaf. The way Kate and other characters interacted so naturally with Liam, a character who is deaf, made me really happy. Including written words, or noting they are writing, or his reluctance to speak, all built up that aspect of him and the story as a strong foundation.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Recommended: yessss
For a story within a story (within a story?), for a lot of twistiness around writing and text and authors, for a good old fashioned murder mystery, for a lovely exploration of Boston!

Summary

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

Thoughts

THIS. WAS. SO. GOOD. By chapter two or three I was so giddy with excitement over all that this book was already promising. There’s a text within the text, and it allowed me to come up with 4 or 5 wildly different theories as to what the resolution of the story would be. I got real creative, LET ME TELL YA. And that last line? BOY DO I HAVE THOUGHTS.

Okay. Obviously it’s a murder mystery, so I’ll keep the spoiler talk out (and/or hidden under a spoiler tag at the end). It was freaking fantastic though! It seemed like everyone at one point or another was a suspect. There was one point about 80% of the way through that made me go “OH okay, it’s obviously X.” And then the characters slowly came to that conclusion. But still — I had an extremely fun time all the way up to that point waiting to see what would happen.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Soundless by Richelle Mead

Recommended: sure
For an incredibly sensory experience of the world, for a common plot executed in a unique way

Summary

For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.

Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.

She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…

Thoughts

A few decisions didn’t make sense to me and seemed like plot holes, but overall I enjoyed this unique implementation of a common plot of exploitation and world changing secrets about everything you know. I was more than willing to suspend disbelief to enjoy the adventure and revelation.

The ending pivoted in fairly quickly in the last twenty percent or so and I wish there had been a little bit more hinted earlier to lead to it. As it was, it felt a little abrupt and strange to get key details only in the last act, but I guess that’s the experience the character has too so I certainly do empathize!

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Lucie Yi Is Not A Romantic (6/24/22)

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Lucie Yi Is Not a Romantic by Lauren Ho!
Expected Release: June 24, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • I have never read a novel about a co-parenting partnership, and I LOVE that this is one. I’m not sure what the correct term is, but an alternate family structure like this is another example of diversity in stories for people of all kinds to see their own experiences reflected. I also think it’s an option for parenthood that is unknown/stigmatized, so seeing it in fiction is great!
  • There’s an extra perk for me of travel in this novel, as Lucie goes to Singapore to see her family once she’s pregnant. Since she’s pregnant and a local, I’m not sure how much exploring will happen for my benefit, but just being there in the story will be exciting! Even if her parents aren’t exactly on board with her co-parenting decision…
  • And then toss in the reappearance of an ex-fiance! Drama with lovers! I assumed the plot would go towards her falling for her co-parent, but I like the idea that it could go the direction of having a romantic partner and a parenting-partner and negotiating those intertwined relationships. Or maybe she’ll only give her heart to her baby, who knows! I think there are a lot of good options for the path, and I’m so excited to see which one plays out. 🙂

Summary

Management consultant Lucie Yi is done waiting for Mr. Right. After a harrowing breakup foiled her plans for children—and drove her to a meltdown in a Tribeca baby store—she’s ready to take matters into her own hands. She signs up for an elective co-parenting website to find a suitable partner with whom to procreate—as platonic as family planning can be.
 
Collin Read checks all of Lucie’s boxes; he shares a similar cultural background, he’s honest, and most important, he’s ready to become a father. When they match, it doesn’t take long for Lucie to take a leap of faith for her future. So what if her conservative family might not approve? When Lucie becomes pregnant, the pair return to Singapore and, sure enough, her parents refuse to look on the bright side. Even more complicated, Lucie’s ex-fiancé reappears, sparking unresolved feelings and compounding work pressures and the baffling ways her body is changing. Suddenly her straightforward arrangement is falling apart before her very eyes, and Lucie will have to decide how to juggle the demands of the people she loves while pursuing the life she really wants.

Would my book, my words, be different if I were a murderer, for example?” Cain asks carefully. I think about it for a moment. “Words have meaning. I suppose who the author is, what he’s done might change that meaning.”

“Isn’t meaning more to do with the reader?”

“No…a story is about leading a reader to meaning. The revelation is theirs, but we show them the way. I suppose the morality of the writer influences whether you can trust what they are showing you.”

“Even if you don’t know what they’ve done?”

“Especially if you don’t know. If you are aware, then you can account for it in your interpretation of the work. Is it a manipulation, a defence? Is it an expression of guilt?”

The Woman In The Library by Sulari Gentill

Making meaning

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Noh Family by Grace K. Shim

The Noh Family by Grace K. Shim
A fast forward Friday pick!

Recommended: eh
For a identity & family story set in Korea, for little tidbits of fashion, travel, and K-drama fandom. but it also has a character who seems much younger than her age, and makes thoughtless decisions

Summary

When her friends gift her a 23-and-Me test as a gag, high school senior Chloe Kang doesn’t think much of trying it out. She doesn’t believe anything will come of it–she’s an only child, her mother is an orphan, and her father died in Seoul before she was even born, and before her mother moved to Oklahoma. It’s been just Chloe and her mom her whole life. But the DNA test reveals something Chloe never expected–she’s got a whole extended family from her father’s side half a world away in Korea. Her father’s family are owners of a famous high-end department store, and are among the richest families in Seoul. When they learn she exists, they are excited to meet her. Her mother has huge reservations, she hasn’t had a great relationship with her husband’s family, which is why she’s kept them secret, but she can’t stop Chloe from traveling to Seoul to spend two weeks getting to know the Noh family.

Chloe is whisked into the lap of luxury, but something feels wrong. Chloe wants to shake it off–she’s busy enjoying the delights of Seoul with new friend Miso Dan, the daughter of one of her mother’s grade school friends. And as an aspiring fashion designer, she’s loving the couture clothes her department store owning family gives her access to. But soon Chloe will discover the reason why her mother never told her about her dad’s family, and why the Nohs wanted her in Seoul in the first place. Could joining the Noh family be worse than having no family at all?

Thoughts

This was solidly ok. It read quickly, partly because the plot was very straightforward and unsurprising. It was pretty predictable, even from startling early on. That’s not necessarily bad, but I don’t expect to be thinking about this book in a month from now. It’s one that will probably remain in the moments where I was reading it and not be carried forward much past that.

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