Posted in Reviews

Review: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Verdict: UGH, glad it’s over 😫

Recommended: no
If you speak and think like the character then you’ll get past that barrier, but you’ll still have to deal with how subpar the story overall is

Summary

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izumi travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izumi soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairy tale, happily ever after?

Thoughts:
My two main issues with this book were the character herself and the fact that nothing new was brought to the table with this story. The second issue is self explanatory, but the first is more specific to me.

Izumi speaks like people 15-25 sound on social media. The kind of writing I usually cringe at despite being around that age myself. It’s full of the overly dramatic writing style of Instagram and Twitter and tumblr. I hated it, which made me dislike her, which made me not enjoy the book. I also called the “twist” right from the introduction of a character. Meh.

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Posted in Reviews

6 Books I reviewed in 2018 that are still accurate

Hey y’all,

Here are some really short and sweet reviews I wrote back in 2018. I wanted to share these because they’re books I enjoyed and want to have featured somewhere on this blog. Here’s their chance for some shining glory and recognition. 😊

Omg so cute! The wiring was so cute and realistic (albeit about ghosts) and I love the cute humor in addressing questions about ghosts. Unexpectedly love the illustrations, too. Very nicely done all around.

Not what I expected. My kind of humor, too, just simple and sweet and a bit tongue in cheek. Amusing to see how they wove in the “behind the scenes” stories from history, and the characters, even the ones who are only alive for a few pages, are all hilarious and wonderful and surprisingly memorable.

Continue reading “6 Books I reviewed in 2018 that are still accurate”
Posted in Book Talk

An email to Amy: 5 of the best books I’ve read since 2019

You know to be honest, I haven’t ready many new books this year that I really LOVED. Either I’m harder to please, or just picking duds lol. But here are a few from the past year or so that stuck with me:

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin –  a dark YA witchy Macbeth-themed book about a girl getting revenge on the group of boys who raped her (and have raped many others). The style of writing is really lyrical and it ALWAYS makes me want to read Macbeth right after because it’s so, so good. Not exactly a light read though

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa – adult contemp translated from Japanese, the focus is very much on characters and you hear people’s stories. The way it’s told at times from the cat’s POV can be really sweet and funny, and is an awesome counterpoint to some of the heavier aspects of the book. Even though I knew early on what was coming, I bawled at the end nonetheless.

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert – a historical fiction novel about a Hawaian girl who gets leprosy and is sent to the leper colony island in Hawai’i. She sees a lot of events of the time through her lens there, and has a lot of interesting insight into growing up with leprosy, around others with it, and in that strange isolation yet specific kind of community. It’s a slow paced read with a lot packed in. I read this one by a pool in Cancun.

The Cat I Never Named by Amra Sabic El-Rayess. BEST BOOK I’VE READ IN A REALLY LONG TIME. It’s nonfiction that reads like fiction, except for when you remember it’s 100% real. By a Bosnian woman during the genocide from the Serbians, this is a war book and hopeful and distressing and just truly unbelievable. Might be a good one to read with older students, or select chapters from or something.

Invisible Women by Caroline Creado Perez. Nonfic. You’ll be angry and baffled after reading this, because it’s absolutely JUST INSANE how women are ignored and threatened daily from shitty research, or research that deliberately leaves us out because our hormones make tests difficult. EVEN WHEN ITS A PRODUCT FOR WOMEN. My god. Perez never once does any “blame the men” and in fact keeps a remarkably impressive angle of working together globally to solve the issue, more than finger pointing about who sucks the most. I listened to the audio book, but I just bought a copy so I can thumb through and find some of the ridiculous studies and aspects she goes into detail on.

Two of mine are somehow related to cats. xD I guess I sense a theme there. These are all books that are so good that I read them digitally and bought a physical copy to have, because I either already have or definitely will re-read all of these. Foul is Fair is at least once a year a re-read, when it gets to October and I want some witchy stuff.

Posted in Book Talk

In Progress with MEMORIAL

Progress: page 149/303 (49%)

The slog continues…. I really wish I were enjoying this more, but the first half was super weird and so much seemed unnecessary (why did we see a pigeon pick up a quarter… why did it get mentioned AGAIN five pages later…). Then I finally adjusted to the rhythm, and the POV changes and is completely different. /SIGH. To be honest, I have gotten nothing from this so far…

Why did I start reading it?

It was a BOTM that I grabbed, after hearing some good things about it. I originally scorned it because I super-hate the cover. Then I learned more about it, looked at it again, saw more details of the cover that made me hate it a little less, and decided to actually read it. The premise involves relationship examining and culture shock, going new places, learning about others, etc. which always wins me in.

Why am I still reading it?

This isn’t usually a question I include in my In Progress posts… but I think it warrants asking at this point. xD I have so far not enjoyed the book at all. I don’t think I’m getting anything else from it. I don’t want to read it, frankly. But I’m very slowly continuing… because I bought it, and I don’t want to have wasted my money and book pick for the month. 😐

Lines that linger

My mother smelled like chocolate. My father wore his nice shirt. You’d have been hard pressed to think that this was a man who’d thrown his wife against a wall. Or that this lady, immediately afterward, stuck a fork into his elbow.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Verdict: uhmmmmm… don’t bother. Severely lacking in all aspects

Recommended: no
because of a lack of compelling plot, uninteresting characters, a distinct lack of promised magic, a book that’s ultimately just pretty dry and boring. Maybe it’s a good plane book to read then ditch or donate.

Summary

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago.

Thoughts

To turn a common phrase on its head, this book was entirely putdownable. Which I did, many times, and only picked up again out of a general sense of obligation to see it through.

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Posted in Book Talk

Barnes & Noble’s beach read recos are spot on!

Hey y’all!

I was just perusing Barnes and Noble’s website for my friends’ registry when I saw their recommended beach reads list. I had to laugh, because several of them are ones I have read (though not necessarily at the beach) and definitely agreed with!

The list

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

One of the few on this list that I haven’t already heard of! Judging 100% by the title and cover this might be a little too saccharine sweet for me right now, but does have a quick read beach book feel to it. ^.^

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Well, I definitely read this one! I think I was actually a little late to the party when it came out, but daaaang did I love it! This is a slightly chunky read but it goes by super fast because of how much you love the characters. Just be aware that it does get, ah, somewhat steamy at points, so if you do read it on the beach be warned! xD

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

I haven’t read this but it’s on my list. After reading Big Summer by her last year, I knew to go for it when I saw her name!

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

I just read this from BOTM and it was WAY better than I expected. It had a lot more character depth than I anticipated, and the main conflict is one that’s a true problem and says a lot about the insight and aspects of the characters as they navigate it.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

It should be no surprise to avid chick-lit or beach-book readers to see Emily Henry on here twice! And it should be no surprise to ANYONE to see that a book titled “Beach Read” is on a list about books to read at the beach. No brainer. This one definitely fits the mold though, and I quite enjoyed it when I read it. I preferred People We Meet on Vacation, but maybe just because I’ve read it more recently. 😅

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

My only qualm with calling this a beach read is that it starts out with a bang. A literal one. Of the bedroom variety. You can probably guess that it doesn’t lighten up from there, so be prepared for some steam if you’re reading this on a hot beach!

The Layover by Lacie Waldon

The only other title on this list I haven’t already heard of! Judging this one as well by it’s title and cover, I’m probably going to be adding it to my tbr. If it’s anything to do with locations far from home, I’ll all about it!

Are any of these books in your bag to pack for the beach this summer? ⛱

Posted in Reviews

Review: Anna K Away by Jenny Lee

Anna K: Away by Jenny Lee

Recommended: sure
For a followup to the first one, for an easier read than the first one, for a short story following each character

Summary

How the mighty have fallen. Anna K, once the golden girl of Greenwich, CT, and New York City, has been brought low by a scandalous sex tape and the tragic death of her first love, Alexia Vronsky. At the beginning of the summer, her father takes her to the other side of the world, to connect with his family in South Korea and hide her away. Is Anna in exile? Or could this be her chance to figure out who she really is?

Back in the U.S., Lolly has forgiven Steven for cheating on her, and their relationship feels stronger than ever. But when Lolly meets a boy at her beloved theater camp, she has to ask herself how well Steven will ever really know her. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, everything between Kimmie and her new boyfriend, Dustin, is easy–except when it comes to finally having sex. And Bea escapes to LA, running away from her grief at her beloved cousin’s death, until a beautiful stranger steals her heart. Is Bea ready to finally forgive Anna, and let herself truly fall in love for the very first time?

Thoughts:

I was excited to see the characters again, and particularly interested in seeing what Jenny Lee invented as a followup story since this one is not based on other material, as the first one was. The plot moves much more steadily in this than the first book, and generally each character we follow is interesting. I think people who were a bit bored in the first book but liked the characters may enjoy this one more.

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Posted in Book Talk

6 Books with Weddings

Hey y’all! I saw people besides my significant other and family for the first time this weekend and my friend’s wedding! If you happened to notice that I didn’t post anything on Saturday it’s because I was too busy celebrating!

It was so fun and so lovely and beautiful and I’m so happy for them! And I also wanted to use this as some inspiration for a post because I started thinking about all the books with weddings in them, and how they’re not always the way you might expect a book with a wedding in it to be.

By that I mean, sometimes the wedding goes wrong. Sometimes it’s in a horror and someone’s being forced to get married. Sometimes it totally is just an excuse for a bunch of romantic novel tropes and you know it, but you love it anyway. Weddings come in all kinds of ways in books! So here are a few that I immediately thought of when making this list that showcase the variety that you can get with weddings in books.

Ahh, the fake date

A juicy fake-date trope, Lucie decides to take a vacation to Scotland with a total stranger as his date to a wedding. The wedding, the hotel, the exotic locale, two hetero people… you can guess where this is heading.

Lure him in

Although Poppy and Alex are not the ones getting married, she DOES use the wedding as an excuse to lure him into a vacation together, after years of their broken tradition. Ends with a wedding, but the good stuff is all before!

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Posted in Reviews

Review: How Lucky by Will Leitch

How Lucky by Will Leitch – Expected Publication: May 11, 2021
Verdict: eh, not for me but I’m confident others will really love this

Recommended: sure, for other people
For folks curious about life with SMA as a wheelchair-user, for a light mystery heavy on character introspection, for small laughs about dark things

Summary

Daniel leads a rich life in the university town of Athens, Georgia.  He’s got a couple close friends, a steady paycheck working for a regional airline, and of course, for a few glorious days each Fall, college football tailgates. He considers himself to be a mostly lucky guy—despite the fact that he’s suffered from a debilitating disease since he was a small child, one that has left him unable to speak or to move without a wheelchair. 

Largely confined to his home, Daniel spends the hours he’s not online communicating with irate air travelers observing his neighborhood from his front porch. One young woman passes by so frequently that spotting her out the window has almost become part of his daily routine. Until the day he’s almost sure he sees her being kidnapped. 

Thoughts:

I can’t really believe I’m rating this as “just ok” but that is indeed what’s happening. I can’t really pinpoint what missed for me with this book. Objectively I can look at it’s components and think it would probably be good, but ultimately I just wasn’t that into it. Reading it wasn’t a chore, but I guess I just never really connected with the characters nor the plot.

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Expected Release Date: May 11, 2021

Recommended: sure
For fans of Emily Henry, for a unique way of getting to know the characters, for a romance where the key conflict isn’t entirely due to the fact that they didn’t just TALK ABOUT THEIR ISSUE which is the worst trope ever, for a romance with some other actual FUN tropes

Summary

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart–she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown–but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together–lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Thoughts:

The way of telling it by bouncing between past and present is interesting, and all the stories are enjoyable. You’re not stuck wishing it would just get back to the other time frame, because they’re ALL great.

The culminating issues are done really well because you get the conflict of the current-day story and the conflict of the 2-years-ago fiasco that caused the split. So as the story progresses, you get closer to TWO explosions of plot, which is delightful. They also wind so well together, as in the vacation stories you learn their history and little jokes and personal pains, which then come up again when you switch back to the current day story. I know some people struggle with reading multiple time frames switching back and forth, but I think it’s handled pretty well here.

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