Thursday, December 22, 2016

Asian YA: Awesomely Asian 2017 YA/MG Books

As all book lovers who thrive on social media or anywhere on the internet, there's always new books to look forward to, whether they're a few weeks away, or even a year. While there are dozens of exciting new books to look forward to in the coming year of 2017, I wanted to feature the following books that should be on your radar when it comes to Asian YA.

Note: This list chooses to focus on books that both feature Asian MCs and Asian authors, whether they're #ownvoices or not, although the majority of the books listed here are #ownvoices. Those that are not #ownvoices or I am unsure about have been indicated with an asterisk. I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible, and if any titles are missing that fit the above qualifications or I made any errors, please let me know as soon as possible!

Correction: The author of The Takedown is a white author and I apologize for this error.

East Asia

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh*
Dove Alight (Dove Chronicles #3) by Karen Bao
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco*
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Forest #1) by Julie C. Dao*
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han
The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig
A Place I Belong by Cynthia Kadohata
The November Girl by Lydia Kang
The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu
Weaving a Net is Better Than Praying for Fish by Ki-Wing Merlin
The Amaterasu Project by Axie Oh
Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
Want by Cindy Pon
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
It's Not Like It's a Secret by Misa Sugiura
The Takedown by Corrie Wang
Secrets & Sequences (Secret Coders #3) by Gene Luen Yang
Kokoro (Kojiki #2) by Keith Yatsuhashi
The Emperor's Riddle by Kat Zhang

South-East Asia

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
Girl in Between by Pintip Dunn
Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Not Your Villain (Not Your Sidekick #2) by C.B. Lee

South Asia

Saints, Misfits, Monsters, and Mayhem by S.K. Ali
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi
Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski
That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim
Amina's Voice by Hena Khan
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Soulmated (Joining of Souls #1) by Shaila Patel
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
This Promise I Will Keep by Aisha Saeed
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

West Asia

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian
Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai*

I hope you found some new books to add to your TBR and are excited about the upcoming releases! I, for one, cannot wait to pick these books up and am patiently counting down the days until I get a chance to read them. Stay tuned for the part 2: the non-YA edition for 2017 books, coming soon.

T H I S  P O S T  I S  A L S O  F O U N D  O N  A S I A N  Y A

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Review: Encore (Amplified #2) by Tara Kelly

Published: December 5th 2016
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository
I lied my way into a band, humiliated them on stage, and got my heart broken by the bassist. Now…we’re on tour together.

Of course my dad, who I haven’t seen since he kicked me out, makes a surprise visit the day before we leave. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t go well. I have to quit the band and go to college or he’s cutting me out of his life for good.

This tour is the best opportunity we may ever have – and it’s already a disaster. We’re broke. We can't stop fighting. And being in such close quarters to Sean isn't exactly helping me get over him. Even though we're just friends now, every time our fingers brush or our eyes catch, my heart betrays me. He's the kind of distraction I can't afford to have right now…no matter how much I wish things were different.

This is one road trip that will be hard to forget…
- Goodreads

This is a tough book to review, not only because it could be painful to read, but also because of the depth and darkness that hides behind the usual contemporary fare. On the surface, this book does seem a tad like a cutesy road trip book, and while I was expecting it to be realistic, the way Amplified was, I wasn't prepared for how dark this book would be. I was rattled and shaken by a lot of the stuff that happened, and it was almost like a trainwreck, where you're compelled and can't look away.

I enjoyed Amplified, and liked how realistic it was, the way it didn't sugarcoat the problems or swoop everything up in a nice little bow and end it in a candy gloss happy way. So when I found out there was a sequel, of course I was excited. I admit this book is hard to swallow at many points, it tackles a lot of issues, and it hurts because everything was raw and intense. I do want to be slightly vague when mentioning specific elements, since I don't want to have previous conceptions cloud a reader's feelings towards characters, but identity, mental health, victim blaming and other issues were integral parts of the plot and the character arcs. I will note that I thought Tara Kelly did a great job with relaying the reality of misogyny in the music world and one that I can certainly confirm exists, even through the lens of being an outsider.
The truth is...they're calling you fat because you're not skinny. And that's all we can be—too fat or skinny. They're calling you a bitch because that's what you call a girl who isn't behaving. They're calling you a whore because that's just what most girls are. In their eyes, we will never be right.
The character relationships in this book are quite well-done, from the romantic one between Jasmine and Sean to the friendships that Jasmine has with the other band members and the intertwining different levels of trust they entail. Out of all the relationships, for me personally, the one between Jasmine and Veta was the one that was the most searing. Veta goes through a heavy character arc in this book, and Encore doesn't make the friendship between her and Jasmine easy. The romance in this book is understated, and while Sean is a pivotal character in the book, the central bond of music and the band is front and center.

The plot could be a little rocky at times, but it doesn't lose the hard work and tarnished hope that Jasmine and the rest of C-Side holds for their musical dreams. It takes off the glamour and glitz of the music world and grounds it in the ugly reality that I'm sure many musicians face. It makes this book that much more memorable in the face of all the rock star books that must exist in the new adult genre.

I mentioned above that Tara Kelly tackles misogyny in the music world, that exists in any professional stage. There are some dark moments in this book where Jasmine is harassed online, and it is ugly. I wish that this wasn't a reality but anyone who has ventured online knows the reality of how online anonymous (or not) comments and users can be vicious and relentless.

And, more importantly, I'm not going to watch another girl get burned at the stake over some guy's world. A fucking rumor. How many times have we heard this story? How many decades have we said we're going to do something about it? And yet, here we are...

I would say that the ending of this book is quite open-ended, but it leaves the reader with hope. Dreams, especially ones that are big as this band's, aren't going to magically come true, and though it would be nice to maybe see something happen in the future for them, I like where the book leaves them. For the scrappy crew who makes up this band, I wish them nothing but happiness and success.

Thank you to Entangled Publishing and Netgalley for the review copy.

My Rating:★★★★

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thoughts on the Apocalypse

It's been one week since the apocalypse happened. People are protesting, fear is rampant among the citizens, and a dangerous new era has arrived. I can't help but dread every news update that I see, because in the past week, the reality has worsened, even as many try to normalize the truth of who our new president will be.

Sorry for the rather dramatic introduction, but while that may seem like a dystopian novel opening, I think these words may be even more unnerving.

"Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government." 

These are actual words from the House Speaker, describing the current state of our government.

Compared to most, I'm lucky. I'm not a part of the specific marginalized groups that Trump and his campaign has targeted, although I would consider myself a second-generation immigrant. I have not been attacked or threatened by strangers based on who I am, and the worst I've encountered is some Twitter trolls. But I'm terrified. Asians have been harassed, being called slurs and I have no idea when/if that will happen to me. And while I want to think my peers are civilized, if there are vicious hate crimes occurring at even the most prestigious and well-educated schools (see the UPenn incident, an IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL), I'm terrified. I attend school in a red state, and while the district I am in voted blue, it's a sobering thought.

Last week, my friend and I were joking about Trump even being a candidate and how we couldn't wait for the news to stop focusing on him when the election effectively destroyed him. While I was aware of the legions of loyal followers I saw on the media, most people would surely be reasonable enough to see the true monster he is. Yet, this country failed me, especially those of white. Calling those who voted for him racist is too extreme, is an arugment that I've seen online. They had valid reasons and are not all ignorant, they say. Yet my question is, did sacrificing the safety and well-being and mental/physical health of the majority not factor into your decision? I'm supposed to understand why you thought letting someone who has no idea what he is doing into office was the smart, well-thought out decision. The fact that such people exist in the book community is disappointing but unsurprising, considering how many treat diversity, and the severity of the hurt racist/problematic books inflict on people.

What has kept me going is the tireless efforts of many authors that I see on Twitter, the authors that have been advocates of diversity and now in the face of a real crisis, have championed this cause with the same rigor that was applied to the problems in the book community. To take a moment, if you are vocal about the issues of diversity in books but have not cared enough to support the real issues so many Americans are facing because of the dark lord who has been elected, I don't trust you or your advocacy. You are indirectly telling me you don't care enough about my mental well-being or those of so many in the book community who are working so hard to call representatives and donate etc. This might sound harsh, but the fear and anger I've heard from friends is so much more important than your guilty conscience.

The one thing that has come out of this entire election that could even be positive, is that I've decided to seriously consider working in publishing. Literature is important more than ever, and I want to work somewhere where I can work to make a difference, and while it is a pipe dream, helping to have the publishing industry diversify and promote marginalized authors, who represent those who are going to have it the hardest in the coming years, is the least I can do to help. It's my way of working towards something I can do to help. It may not be much, but as Rudyard Kipling once said,"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."

I've also decided to pay even more attention to politics. I am slightly ashamed that I didn't know the name of my congresswoman until this morning. She is thankfully, very vocal about denouncing the terrifying figure up for a senior WH position as well as her opposition towards the interests of our president-elect that will destroy our country and I am grateful and proud. There are senators and House reps who are working to protect us, and I am thankful. I am still terrified because it may and very likely could not be enough because the fact stands that enough citizens believe that supporting a racist egomaniac who was fully equipped with a vice presidential candidate who is well known for being strongly anti-LGBTQ+ and appealed to the white supremacy and racism that is deeply rooted in our country, is the correct track for our country.

This ended up being filled with anger and fear and for that, I apologize but I felt this needed to be said. To my friends who are also scared and concerned, I am sending you love and hugs. I am uncertain and worried as well, but I have hope in the people that are fighting, and while so many in America are rotten from the core, I know there are those out there who know this is not okay. To those fighting, thank you and I love and respect you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Books I'm Dying to Get My Hands On

This post is a part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Ferocious (Vicarious #2) by Paula Stokes

I adored Vicarious, the first book in this duology so much that I'm desperate for this sequel. I'm so glad I picked it up on a whim because Paula is a lovely person in real life, and the ending of Vicarious destroyed me so completely that I'm still recovering form the aftereffects.

2. How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You (Aurora Skye #2) by Tara Eglington

I really enjoyed this Aussie YA book series, and I am now dying to read the second book because Aurora and Hayden are such a charming couple and I most definitely need more of them. Also the synopsis had me laughing, and we all need a fun pick-me up sometimes and this would most assuredly fit the bill.

3. Ninth House (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo

First of all, Leigh Bardugo has my money because I mean, Six of Crows was pretty great. Also because it's about occult stuff and mysterious benefactors and a heroine with a criminal past ought to be an intriguing protagonist.

4. A Place I Belong by Cynthia Kadohata

I might be a tad nervous about the premise of this one, just because I know it's going to make me cry and break just like all of her other books, but also because she does it so beautifully I won't mind anyway.

5. Barefoot on the Wind (The Moonlit Lands #2)

It's a Beauty and Beast retelling with a twist! and it's set in Japan. As mentioned before, I am drawn to all books about Japan, and fairy tale retellings are a huge weakness of mine.

6. The Boy is Back (Boy #4) by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot is a queen when it comes to chick lit and I'm so bitter that I didn't even know this book existed until I read a review of it two weeks ago, so I'm stuck in a ridiculous hold line because I am going to die before I get to this book...

7. This is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

Yep, I do adore Paula, and this book will be devoured most assuredly.

8. Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

The title says it all, but I have always adored contemporary YA romance books that have the friends to lovers dynamic.

9. Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

I love that this book is grounded in the STEM field, and even though the only thing I know is that it's about a girl competing to win the last slot in a space mission, there's already such a fascinating potential, and I hope it'll be just as exciting as it seems.

10. Mirage (Mirage #1) by Somaiya Daud

This book sounds positively intriguing! I love the idea of body doubles and the political intrigue that comes with being in a royal palace. I also really need to know if there will be romance in this book because that would be the icing on the cake.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Cloudy Musings #3: Existential Crisis + New Ideas

I've finished round one of my midterms and am well into round two, which I feel much better about, though I've been going through an existential crisis recently, with the major STEM classes I've been taking. I'm not sure what I want to do yet, but I've been feeling pretty strongly lately that mechanical engineering may not be the right path for me. Working in STEM seemed like a natural progression since math has always been my strong suit, and the lingering idea that I should be in STEM just because I'm Asian. Trying to remove that label has been a little scary, but I'm opening up to the idea of quite possibly working in publishing, or with books. That is my ultimate dream career I think, and especially in the face of the troubling fact that publishing is still so non-inclusive. We'll see where the wind blows though, and who knows, I might be back to my engineering career goal in a few weeks again.

I'm still watching Shopping King Louis, which continues to exceed my expectations in how pure and fluffy the whole show is, and I want to hug the main characters so badly. I adore them and while I've dropped the majority of my current shows, I've managed to stick to this one. I saw the movie Storks in theaters mid-October, and it was adorably sweet, with a lovely and touching ending that made me melt inside. I'm apparently weak for any soft-hearted movie it seems hah. I've also returned to From Dusk til Dawn, though the gory scenes make me reluctant to watch more than one or two episodes; I will eventually catch up hopefully, since I find the main characters to be fascinating and intriguing despite these graphic aspects.
I didn't quite read as much as I wanted to the last month, due to the extended stretches of time I spent in my studying cave, but I wanted to note the few books I've read I consider, noteworthy. Heroine Complex, The Trouble with Mistletoe, How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You, The Hating Game, and Hold Me. First up, Heroine Complex is fun and zippy, a wild ride from start to finish. Bonus points for featuring a Japanese-American heroine. The Trouble with Mistletoe is a classic Jill Shalvis read, although this one is definitely ranking higher up of all the ones I've read by her and a total sweetheart romance. How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You was a delightfully charming YA romance, with a swoon-worthy boy to boot. The Hating Game was a true game-changer, and I am speechless with love for it, I am amazed at how much I heart this book. And Courtney Milan is a true talent with Hold Me, a book that not only features complex in-depth characters but also a dynamic that's riddled with flaws and strengths to really breathe life into the story.

If you haven't been around on the interwebs recently, you may have missed that I have a lovely project/blog I've started titled Asian YA. Exactly what the title says, it's a blog that both promotes Asian authors and books that are about Asian authors, with a focus on nuanced good representation. It's gotten a wonderful reception so far, and I'm so happy that it's been received so well. As an Asian-American, the way Asians are clumped together and treated very shoddily in books/media is quite upsetting and is the driving passion behind this project. I've been truly giddy with excitement as I plan future features for this blog and if you have the time, it would be lovely if you checked it out.

I hope you all have a lovely November, and cheers to those of you braving the cold weather setting in.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You (Aurora Skye #1) by Tara Eglington

Published: October 25th 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Sweet sixteen and never been kissed . . .

That’s Aurora Skye’s big secret. And the way she wants it to stay. She’s not going to give away her first kiss to just anyone. Busy dodging suitors and matchmaking for her best friends, Aurora (not so) patiently awaits her prince.

But everything changes when Aurora is coerced into a lead role in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing. Which means she’ll have to lock lips with her co-star Hayden Paris—the smart and funny boy next door who also happens to be the bane of her existence, always around to see her at her worst.

Now Aurora is more determined than ever to have her first kiss with the one who’s truly worthy of it. But first she’ll have to figure out just who that person is. - Goodreads

An adorable book wrapped up in a cute and charming package, How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You is a delight to read. While at its core this book stays true to the spirit of the romcom nature, it adds some surprising wit for me not to feel bored.

Aurora, the protagonist, has a common dream of her perfect Prince, the one whom she's saving a first kiss for. While if this fact made her passive, I would have been thoroughly annoyed, she's a very active character, searching for her Prince with a plan and determination. I like her spunk, and the way she's a dynamic whirl of energy, whether it's verbally sparring with her bane of existence Hayden or cheering up her best friends. Her interactions with her cats are sweet, and they play some very integral part in the book, a fun little quirk that I enjoyed.
However, my Find a Prince™ program has nothing to do with glass slippers, poisoned apples, or talking woodland animals. It's about us girls valuing ourselves and saying no to boys who use or abuse us. (taken from ARC~5%)
I also loved the way the friendships were portrayed in this, with each of the girls getting a definitive personality and role, without being props to stage Aurora. I personally love Sara and Cassie, both of them are utter sweethearts and Sara especially made me laugh a number of times. There's some interesting dynamics here and while the romance is a main plot here, the cracks and mends in the girls' bonds were seamless integrated and were not sidelined for the ship.

The romance was well done as well, despite following a very predictable path. There are quite a few toads in this book, and I thought they were trounced rather nicely, although I'd prefer to be a little more bloodthirsty, and I did enjoy how our intelligent heroine did not suddenly lose brain cells when it came to boys, especially since this is a common maneuver I see in such books like these. She was still the fierce Aurora who was determined to find a true Potential Prince, and I liked how she did not let her morals waver in the face of love. Bonus for the love interest being an intelligent sweetheart, I absolutely adored the snappy dialogue between Aurora and him. Also kissing scenes, I'm hoping for more in the sequel, but I was quite pleased with what the author doled out in this.

"You stayed up the whole night...Why?" 
"Because I wanted to see you smile again" (taken from ARC~93%)

All in all, while not perfect, which was due to my intense secondhand embarrassment in a few scenes and my lack of secure attachment to the characters, I was quite content with the pure rush of entertainment I received from it. It's a gem of a contemporary YA, and it manages to balance humor with heart.

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martins Press for the review copy.

My Rating:★★★(3.75 stars)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cover Reveal: Plastic Wings by C.T. Callahan

Published: November 22 2016
Publisher: Three Little Books Co.

When seven-year-old Evie Weiss discovers a strange, sickly boy in her otherwise familiar forest, she has no idea what it holds for her world. He is a dark angel, one of a race of humanoid beings that feed on humanity and tear Evie’s world down around her. Years later, as humanity mounts a counter-attack against the dark angels, Evie remembers the boy in the forest and finds herself torn between her loyalty to her own people and feelings of compassion for these strange creatures that first captivated her as a child. It is the quest of one girl to unite two worlds so separated by war, but how can she close the gap between two races so determined to hate each other? - Goodreads
*Cover reveal courtesy of Rich in Variety Tours.

So, what do you think of this cover and book? Does it intrigue you?  

A u t h o r   B i o

C.T. Callahan is the author of young adult fantasy, sci-fi, and a weird assortment of short stories. Hailing from a mixed-racial background, she’s pledged her writing to contribute to the spread of diversity in fiction and the fight for equality. When away from reading and writing, you’ll most likely find her engaged in art or snuggling cute dogs. Learn more at

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Cloudy Musings #2: Textbook Woes & Kdramas

The first time I wrote one of these posts, I kept it relatively straightforward with brief thoughts that I jotted down in response to the various books I'd read recently. This time around, I've decided to merge with the monthly recaps, instead of keeping a fastidious record of all the books I've read, seeing as you can find that on my Goodreads instead quite honestly.

I started up school last month, and it's approximately been a full month since my new semester started, as evidenced by the agonizing exams I've taken the past week. Besides the mournful lack of free time to enjoy life, college has also wounded me quite deeply with all of the books and supplies that I've had to buy. Trust me on this, but my bank account has never looked so ragged. Math lectures in the morning can be torturous, but try taking an exam at 8:40 in the's one of the most painful things I've done here in college. I get to dabble in German again, which I last took two years ago, so I'm fumbling there but I do have the loveliest professors and it's a welcome break from the math-intensive courses I have for my major.

I unfortunately didn't read much the past few weeks, but I'm slowly regaining my momentum for reading. First and foremost, I consumed the Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis, which is a set of contemporary romance novels set in a charming little town known as Lucky Harbor. It's certainly not a read I pick up for the intrigue, but they remind me of meringues, so fluffy and charming you can't help but pick up another one. I also read Lauren Layne's latest Wedding Planners book, To Love and to Cherish, which was my favorite of the trilogy, with a slow burn chemistry between the two characters that I really liked. The true star of my latest reads however was Vicarious by Paula Stokes, which utterly destroyed me and I am still in recovery over its thrilling ending. I also had the fabulous opportunity to meet the  author and she was the sweetest person ever. It's possibly my sole five star read of the year (excluding some author favorites), so that's very telling of how high it fell on my scale of esteem. Another golden one was Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones; an utterly gorgeously written fantasy retelling type of story, the romance and intimate scenes were on par for YA, I'm very excited for the sequel I've already prepared my full moon sacrifices for these characters.

On the guilty pleasures side of things, I did watch a ton of TV, enough to be almost ashamed of. I've recently immersed myself in the world of kdramas again, largely in thanks to my friends Sue and Alysia. I was watching Scarlet Heart Ryeo with a handful of friends, but I've tragically fallen far behind, despite how tempting Prince So is. My favorite dramas from the past month have definitely been Bring It On, Ghost!(the cutest ghost/ghost-banisher duo fighting ghosts with maximum creepy and adorable fluff vibes) and Shopping King Louis (chaebol shopaholic amnesiac meets honest hardworking girl + hijinks + Seo In Guk). I also binged my way through Descendants, which was soo pretty and enjoyable albeit the somewhat questionable plot especially the secondary leads of Kim Ji Won and Jin Gu. I adored those two characters they gave me such a toothache with their sweet angst and pain. Coincidentally, this kdrama phase has been quite the nostalgic one harkening back to my first kdrama phase, especially as Seo In Guk was my favorite after Reply 1997 (such a good drama guys you have no idea how much I loved this one) and I adored Kim Ji Won in What's Up (she was in a much more tragic OTP thank goodness for this happier one), with both of these shows airing around four/five years ago.

I hope you've had a lovely month as well, and here's to a fun October to us all, even though I'm plagued by the terrible reality of a certain presidential candidate and his truly heinous behavior. I'm going to be so thankful once this election has passed, since I'm holding out hope that America won't let me down.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Blogging Like a Sloth: The Ever-Present Struggle to Write

I've come to a revelation lately.

No matter how I try and plan, I can't seem to be that consistently churning machine of well-written reviews and blog posts the way so many other bloggers seem to be (of course, I mean machine in the highest regard, as it amazes me how well people can handle these time commitments.) This blog has been nothing short of a disaster, with my probably shining moment in July of last year, when I was actually posting at a decent rate and then in November, when I was involved in two blog tours. Other than that, this endeavor has seemed to fall apart on me.

I can blame a lot of things, but mostly how I juggle time. I am a terrible at time management and most mornings, I go running to class after blearily getting out of bed and just barely making myself look presentable. I have problem sets to solve and ongoing stream of homework in addition to keeping it together and while I would love to abandon myself to living in the world of reading, it's a little more than unrealistic. Life, mainly school, have dictated that it must demand more and more of my time, and I rarely have the chance to sit down and read anymore, my only options being hurriedly reading via transit on my phone, a terrible habit. However, call me stubborn, but I cannot let go of the idea and potential this blog holds to me, especially because books have guided so much of my life, consume most of my free time and money (not going to lie though, book buying is such an expensive habit).

The only issue is that every time I think of my blog, I am overcome with such a awful feeling of guilt and remorse and anguish, it almost feels like a neglected friend. But what I've recently been trying to embrace is that it's okay to not be the type of blog I might have aspired to be when I first started, but focus more on genuinely enjoying the posts I write and books that I feature on here. In my self delusion that I wasn't a real blogger because I didn't post constantly, I'd lost sight of what I wanted to do when I first started this blog; that is to share my thoughts and love on books in my own personal way.

So an adieu to the ridiculous and unrealistic promises I made to myself and this blog, and I'd like to consider this my restart of this blog, where I'll present my most honest and passionate thoughts about specific books, and literary discussions in general. I'm promising myself that above all, not to fall into the constant trap of uncertainty and conformity, but instead trust my own heart and mind. I have some pretty special stuff I want to share, one of which will brought to you by my one of my dear friends and yours truly, something I'm very excited to share.

And welcome to Airy Reads, where books, food, and sleep reign supreme.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Stalking Jack the Ripper Blog Tour: Fun Quotes & Such

Published: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Indiebound / Book Depository
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world. - Goodreads

Hello everyone! As a member of the Knights of Whitechapel, I'm posting about Stalking Jack the Ripper, which is out on September 20th, a little more than a month away. Luckily, I've had the pleasure of getting to read this book already, and I wanted to share a few fun quotes from this book.

Let's start off with some blood and murder, because who can talk about Jack the Ripper without some gory details? Personally I'm not too fond of dead bodies, but Audrey Rose is a girl who is surprisingly composed in the face of death, excepting rare occasions such as this one.

Everything was most certainly not okay, and this was no mathematical equation; my hands were covered in sticky blood. I frantically wiped them off on my bodice, but it was no use. Blood stained my fingers in crimson accusation. 

Somehow, someway, I was responsible for this man's death.

And an introduction to my favorite character in this book, Thomas Cresswell. A touch too arrogant, but in the right situations, arrogance can be charming haha. No spoilers, but really, he's a character that I think most, if not all, will love. Especially because he does clean up so well.

"Hurry along, then," I said, grabbing my orchid and securing it safely in my journal. "I want to sit by the window."
"What now?" I asked, losing patience.
"I usually sit by the window. You may have to sit in my lap."

Also some good old fashioned feminine wit and charm. I adore this quote, not just because it would be a really badass motto, but because it channels girl power so very well.

Wield your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains. Let them think they rule the world. It's a queen who sits on that throne. Never forget that. There's no reason you can't wear a frock to work, and don the finest gown and dance the night away. But only if it pleases you.

I'll be posting a review for this book closer to release next month, so look out for my detailed thoughts on this book then.

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Dual Review: The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder + Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Published: June 7th 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken. - Goodreads

Short and sweet, this was a charming read, though a few things did bother me about this book.

I thought the romance was sweet, and I adored the love interest, who was one of the sweetest boys I have ever read about. Reading about Penelope and him made the romantic in me soar, and it made me completely mushy at times. I found him to be a sweetheart and some of his kind gestures were truly thoughtful that it broke my heart towards the end.

Penelope herself was an endearing main character and narrator. She adores Anne of Green Gables, one of my childhood favorites, and is a idealistic romantic. I related to her social blunders and desire to stay with her friends forever, along with the fear of changing and growing out of things. And most of all, her earnest belief in the magic of true love and epic love stories like the movies won me over.

The Nevermore magazine group was a charm to read about and I really liked their introduction into this story. Grace and Miles were so warm and I really enjoyed seeing Penelope getting to know them.

While Penelope was a sweet girl and I connected with her wide-eyed demeanor, I admit that it made me sad to see her describe other girls, who may or may not be romantic rivals, in a negative manner. Slut-shaming or girl-shaming is really a trend that needs to disappear from YA, and I was disappointed that it appeared in this book.

Secondly, after reading the synopsis, I could clearly see how the plot of this book would flow, but I wish that the supporting characters had been a little more fleshed out and dimensional. For instance, Cherisse and Audrey were very stale in comparison to the other characters in my opinion, and I could not muster much emotion besides maybe annoyance at times.

"I thought that maybe that was the point—that instead of happy endings, you get beginnings. Hundreds of little beginnings happening every moment, each of them layering into histories deep and tangled and new, histories you count on to remain, no matter what changes the world throws at you." - (~ARC p260)

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for the review copy.

My Rating:★★★(3.5 stars)

Published: March 15th 2016
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having "one drop of Japanese blood in them" things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naive, eighteen-year-old Nora the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they've lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away. - Goodreads

One of the more haunting retellings that I have ever encountered, this book gave a whole new outtake on the beloved tale of Peter Pan, grounded it in reality and harsh truths. It's not magical like the original is, but there is a certain lyrical quality to this writing that I inhaled as I read.

I wouldn't say it is a pleasant tale to read, but it's a myriad of light and dark, from the desperation that clouds Kettle's days and the fear that shrouds Nora to the moments of joy and happiness they feel around those they care about. The abuse and hurt that Nora feels is painful to read about, and her hopeless life is bleak with little light besides her younger sister. She may seem more privileged than most but that privilege is marred by the ugly bruises she has. On the other hand there is Kettle, the orphan with little besides his fellow Lost Boys and his brother Kin, desperately scrounging a life together, haunted by the past and heritage he shoulders. Both characters are fearful, afraid of missteps yet burdened by a load that they are far too young and innocent to be shouldering.

While the book didn't go into much detail about the internment camps themselves, I commend the way the author treated the aftermath, the pain and uncertainty that Japanese Americans felt after being treated as the enemy in their own country.

I was a left bereft by the ending however, and I do wish we'd received a bit more in terms of closure, but I appreciate the hope it gave to the characters.

There is a wonderful flow to Taylor's writing and I am keen to read more books by her, after seeing how she has handled the theme of Japanese Americans and my favorite tale of Peter Pan.

Thank you to Netgalley and Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy.

My Rating:★★★★

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Books that Deserve to Be Hyped

As part of today's Top Ten Tuesday, "Top Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads," hosted by The Broke and the Bookish I scrounged through my shelves and found some hidden gems that I would really like more people to read. It's really not fun to fangirl about a book if no one has read it, isn't it?

1. Every Series by Ellie Marney

Inspired by the Sherlock-Watson duo, this book features James Mycroft (named after the smarter Holmes of course) and Rachel Watts, who not only are witty and sharp, but also share some palpable chemistry together. Being Aussie lit, it has very true-to-life characters, and while it is part YA romance, it does not hesitate with the gritty mystery. The sparks that fly between Rachel and James are not to be missed especially *coughs loudly* a certain shower scene.

2. Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

I was rather captivated by the gorgeous cover, but my friend Sue's glowing review of this sold me on picking this book up. It's heartbreaking to read about Caddie, who has OCD, but I was sucked in by the eloquent writing and the way the author weaved in Hamlet and Ophelia's tale into the fabric of the story. The romance in this was touching and ultimately hopeful, similar to how this book was written.

3. Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

Summer Skin is one of my favorite books this year. I've been reading more Aussie YA beginning this year, and I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this book. Kirsty Eagar nails the themes of sex positivity, feminism, and realistic relationships, but also manages to make me love the characters so much. I adore Jess's fiercely lovable character, and her friends + Mitch, whose flaws made him all that much real to me.

4. Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson

Conspiracy is hands-down one of my favorite words to see in relation with a book and this book delivered on it's premise. It's a thriller with enough suspense to make me think of my favorite spy movies, balanced with a duo that I quickly found myself rooting for. I was on the edge of my seat every step of the way, and Sarah Alderson definitely has a way of capturing your attention.
(Side note: I'm sure not all hackers are attractive boys, but YA authors can keep them coming please.)

5. Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Places No One Knows a contemporary YA with touch of whimsy, seeing as Waverly accidentally dreams herself into Marshall's room. Brenna Yovanoff's writing takes a little getting used to, but this whole book is worth it. I'm a sucker for a well-written couple, and these two characters are meant for each other. I might have gotten misty-eyed at the end, which shows how much I felt for these characters.

6. Inferno (Blood for Blood #2) by Catherine Doyle

I just posted a gushing review where I waxed poetic about this book, but in black and white, Luca Falcone is perfect fictional boyfriend material and you should snag a copy of this series immediately. Mafia and romance are a pretty enticing pair, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Also Sophie and Luca are banter goals and I can't believe this book isn't read more because it should be.

7. Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers

This book tackles the heavy subject of child abuse, but the romance is very poignant and sweet. It's the story of a deaf girl and a lead singer of a chart-topper band, a rather mismatched pair, but one that really touched my heart.

8. The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

In a nutshell, this was a contemporary YA that made me sob towards the end. This book is pretty heavy with the angst and heartbreak, but it's also hopeful, as you see Harper picking up the pieces of her life, even if Declan might not be in the cards for her. Also Declan is a sweetheart and the ending made me cry with some pretty resounding messages about forgiveness. It's different from a lot of contemporary YA romances I've read in that it's not a clean tidy mess, but a wreckage of emotions that I adored.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: Inferno (Blood for Blood #2) by Catherine Doyle

Published: January 7th 2016
Publisher: Chicken House
Purchase: Book Depository
Sophie's life has been turned upside-down, and she's determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she's trying to forget, won't give up on their love - and it's Luca's knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace - and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie's in deeper than ever.

- Goodreads

Saying this book was one of my highly anticipated reads of 2016 is an understatement, to say the least. After the way Vendetta ended I was frantic to read this book as soon as it came out and while I had some fears that my self-founded hype would be deflated, this book wins most of the awards for me. Addictive, dangerous, and romantic, this is one series that earns a spot on my favorites shelf.

As this book is pitched, Romeo and Juliet meets the Godfather is a perfectly apt description of this series. What this book does with the Godfather aspect is, I'm sure quite easy to imagine, from mafia blood to guns and violence. What I quite appreciated about this book was that while it does promise a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance, it does more than that. It takes the initial premise and knocks it upon its head, offering a more realistic look at first love and the difference between falling for an ideal rather than a real person. As Doyle has mentioned before in an interview or something along those lines, she sought to disprove that universal first love and true love entanglement that is oh-so-popular in young adult literature and I, for one think it was rather refreshing. There's a distinct thread of the intense and desperate love that consumed Sophie in the previous book, but in this book, she's seeing more clearly and I respected that realistic outlook.

Speaking of Sophie, she was one of the reasons I wasn't in love with Vendetta, with her puppy love clouding her judgement. There was a damsel-in-distress quality to her that overshadowed her personality and I think the wake-up call in this book provided a better backdrop for her characterization. She's loyal and stubborn, a girl who's made mistakes but still tries to do her damn best. Anyone would be terrified by what she had to go through in the first book, and seeing her face the circumstances with courage and style, something I cannot fault her for.
I knew what I had to do. I had made my choice. The path was dark, but there was no going back.
And then there's Luca Falcone, my utter favorite character in this series. He's a bit of an enigma in the first book, but you see a better picture of who he is through this book, and hands down one of my favorite fictional boys ever. In the previous book he was the foil to Nic's rather rash and dramatic nature, but in Inferno, he really shines. He's brilliantly characterized and written, and out of everyone, he is the one character I had loved from the start, despite his lethal ways. It was enlightening to delve past his cool surface and see how much responsibility and upholding the family business really took a toll on him.
Conflicted, dreaming, but ultimately trapped.
For the other characters, there's some key players introduced, and others who may or may not die in this book. It is a book about mafia families, so you can't quite expect everything to be sugary sweet, but some twists made me clutch my heart in despair and angst. Millie, Sophie's dear best friend, is a welcome face among the dark and sinister characters, with a unfailingly loyal heart and bright spirit that never failed to make me smile. People, this is how you write a best friend and loyal companion, take notes. There's Nic, the other Falcone, who does play a significant role, possibly as much as Luca, but I dislike him for many reasons, so he's delegated to one of the other characters. We see him as his annoying and infuriating self in Inferno, but the charming mask he had on in the first book has definitely slipped.

Romance is one of the key components in this book, and I for one would not have it any other way. As I mentioned above, Doyle does a terrific job with dealing with the aftermath once first love (or puppy love I would say) hits reality, and the romantic interactions in this book were well-developed compared to the ones in Vendetta which garners high praise from me. The fun banter from the last book continues here as well, and the kiss scenes are rather glorious.
He grimaced. "But I like my pedestal. I can see everything from up here." "I bet the view's even nicer from your ivory tower." "It is," he said, solemnly. "I'd invite you up some time, but it's only for really intelligent people who have a great sense of humour."
As for the plot, for the most part I was impressed. There's a certain breathless speed in some scenes while the pace is slowed for others, and I felt overall, that it was well conveyed and when the twists dropped, I was speechless. I almost died reading this book with its heartless treatment of my feelings only to combat them with scenes that made me want to hug this book to my chest. I fear mentioning anything more than vague would make me spill the whole story, and it would be such a catastrophe, but all I can say is: this was a sequel well-worth the time and angst I felt while waiting on and finally reading it. I cannot wait to read the sequel and be reunited with my beloved characters and the intense yet captivating world they live in.

My Rating:★★★★

Click through to see full quality edit on tumblr.)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Cloudy Musings #1 : Romance, Betrayal, and Danger

Considering I never quite have time to fully articulate my thoughts into reviews, or at least in pace with the breakneck speed I like to read books at I thought it would be nice to have a weekly feature where I briefly update with all the books I've read the preceding week or so. Thus, this series was born, and hopefully it won't flop like my previous endeavors. I may go back and flesh these into more solid reviews, but until then, here's my two-pence on all the books I've read. 

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) by Mary E. Pearson

 An honorary shout-out to one of my loveliest friends Nazeefa, who adores this series. And after finishing the second book, I can see why. It sounds contradictory for me to adore such a book, especially with the blaring warning signs of love triangle written all over, but this book doesn't mess around with soapy nonsense. The three main characters are so brilliantly characterized it makes me my heart hurt whenever anything happened to them, and well Pearson definitely doesn't pull any punches with the emotional angst they go through. There's a depth and richness to the fantasy and history of the world she built, and the intriguing contrasts between the different kingdoms rang true to the heart. Also the ending was brutal, to say the least and I need the sequel like I need air.

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

I can never pass up a retelling, especially one for Peter Pan, one of my all time favorite tales. This was engaging in its premise, a darker Neverland, where nothing was at all it seemed.  It was very intriguing to see how the original tale and its rather beloved characters brought to life but with depths and dimensions that I missed in the original. Dashing characters, menacing creatures, and malevolent "fairies" splashed in with adventure and a hint of romance make for a recipe I savored. Although it felt a tad lacking to me because I could not quite fall in love with the characters, for the most part I was impressed by the take on the classic tale, and especially the ending of the book, where the author put in a gut-wrenching scene that made my heart break.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the review copy.

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken

I should be more objective towards this book, but truly I adore Liam Stewart, and much of my love towards this book is centered on this fact. While this book is a little slow on the initial pages, it impressively wraps itself into a deadly and brilliant finale, and my inner conspiracy theorist was smitten. Like the predecessor, this one is slow paced, but it's like a rollercoaster, when you go up that first hill, steadily moving up to the burst of adrenaline that will hit you when you reach the peak. The characters are as colorful as ever, ironic when you consider the colors that represent what their abilities are and as the distrust and betrayal seep into you, it's difficult to put down and away, hence I spent an entire morning consumed by this book. If you don't have patience, this book might not be the one for you, but I definitely consider it well worth the time it takes for the plot to unfold.

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1) by Ryan Graudin

World War II and its devastating and fascinating impact on the world has always pulled me in, and I've always had a weakness for picking out books that deal with the might have or alternate universe scenarios and settings. This particular book deals with the biggest twist of them all: what if Axis powers had prevailed? In the midst of a world where her very existence is a danger, the main character Yael undertakes a catastrophic mission: don a persona and win a race that will let her meet Adolf Hitler, and kill him. Of course the stakes are raised when two other figures enter the race, people who know her persona intimately, and its a heart-pounding and heart-breaking book. It's definitely more of an action book, which I haven't read in a while, but it almost felt like a movie, and I was done before I even realized.

All For You (Paris Hearts #1) by Laura Florand

Many thanks to beloved Lisa who is an avid romance reader, with the best recommendations. This is the only non-YA title in this post, but it deserves a highlight of its own. Florand is one of the most impressive authors I've come across in romance, from her precisely-crafted characters to the purest form of delight her books give me, mouthwatering descriptions of chocolate included. Her books are all set in the beautiful France, Paris to be more precise. In this book, Celie, a chocolatier is blindsided with her teen crush showing up out of the blue into her life. Even more upsetting, Joss claims to have left for the Foreign Legion for her, and was in love with her as well. Joss is a sweetheart while Celie is an absolute delight. Reading this was almost heartbreaking when you  This book is one of the sweetest books I've read, from the romance to the fluffy moments of friendship and camaderie between the other characters. It's truly a joy to read any of her books and I wholeheartedly recommend them for the sincere and poignant heart that hides behind the love and light that shines in her books.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The freshest of the batch, Illuminae is a conundrum and a delight in one. While I don't really dip into science fiction all that much, this was a rare book that I just had to pick up because like most, I'm attracted to the hype books, curious to see what has so many raving(also the gorgeous way the book is packaged-the cover alone made me tempted.) While the book itself dragged at times due to the sheer page count and aesthetic of the AI character in the book, the plot itself was quite thrilling, and also intense in ways that were unexpected. Despite the pretty package, it's quite grit and gore in certain scenes, and I am infinitely glad this is a book and not a movie, since the visual aspects would be quite nightmare-like. I read in an interview that the authors had an astrophysicist read through the science parts, and while I can't be quoted on this observation, from what I could tell the book did an excellent job of being futuristic and cutting-edge without overextending the limits to our imagination. I am very excited to read the sequel, especially since the main characters have been announced, and hello I ship it already. My motivations are not wholly focused on the ship even if it might seem so, I am also quite interested in how the plot will move forward, but the potential of these new characters is a very alluring selling point for me.

Books that didn't make the cut: Fortunately or unfortunately, I only cast off one book in the last two weeks; Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contereras. I have a slight aversion to second-chance romance when there's a deceased partner involved, needless to say I wasn't quite sold on the story or its heartbreaking emotional aspect . Harsh, but with romance and new adult, I'm only really there for the swoon, and I discarded this one almost immediately.

Disclaimer: Apologies if this post is a little wonky; apparently hashing out details about several books in one post tends to make me either sound redundant or an idiot. I'm also attempting to figure out my writing style; it's going a little poorly, probably due to my lack of classes that have any essay assignments involved in the past semester or so. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Review: The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson

Published: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.
- Goodreads

This book seems to evoke both ends of the emotional spectrum for most, and starting this book, I was a little hesitant on whether I would fall into the negative side, considering how Pearson's earlier books were not quite my type of read. But fear not, this book caught me hook line and sinker, with the kind of intensity I was not expecting. It's a slow read, like a flower unfurling its petals, and at a point I can't particularly pinpoint, I was fully immersed in the characters and their unwinding fates.
If I could only reach out and touch the stars, I would know everything. I would understand.
As someone who feels particularly negative towards romantic polygons, I was wary of the hint of the two decidedly male characters who appeared in the synopsis, all but declaring that there would be a love triangle. Fortunately, the suspense of the mystery behind the identities of both males made the first part less odious than expected. Call me morbid but having an assassin around more often than not sparks up some interesting dynamics in the character relationships, especially in conjunction with a prince. I spent a good deal of the book anticipating and speculating over which of the characters was which, and I'm happy to say that I was rather taken by surprise and the two males are quite difficult to pinpoint, with clever character development and intriguing appearances all the more better to disguise their true intentions.
"Some things last."I faced him. "Really? And just what would that be?""The things that matter."
But of course who is a commendable love interest without a worthy partner? Lia, our heroine is a brave-hearted girl, despite her slightly wishful tendencies, and at heart she is true and fierce, making her a worthy candidate for her illustrious title. She had my sympathy from the start with her political bindings, and while she may seem rather too winning in her new-found role after running away, there is a strength in her that brought out admiration and love. Even with the introduction of potential romance between some of the characters, she never seems flighty, and her earnest belief in the power of love touched my heart. Towards the end, we see Lia tap into her inner strength, and I am excited to read the sequel in hopes of seeing more of that aspect shown.
"And if one can't be trusted in love," I added, "one can't be trusted in anything."
Of course I have a favorite character, and in hopes of keeping the surprise of his identity intact I will not mention names, but the assassin has slowly crept into my heart, which is not surprising, with my tendency to develop a soft spot for morally unsound souls and their various shades of gray. As for the prince, he is equally handsome and charming, it is almost unfair how these two must be put in the same book for readers and Lia to favor one over the other. Loyalty and love, both emotions run deep into this book and propels the trio towards a rather compelling finale, with dangerous stakes teetering on each side.
Maybe there was no way to define it. Maybe there were as many shades of love as the blues of the sky.
There is also the fantasy of the magic that whispers and echoes through the book, which was not explored too much due to reasons, but has laid out a solid groundwork for the sequel to build upon and introduced roots of history that revolve around Lia. Speaking of history, the cultures within the different regions in the book are developed carefully and reflect the dangerous power dynamic fraught with tensions well, reminding me of some of my favorite fantasy books.

The writing while leisurely paced, did not mince with the blades of tension and danger, thrilling the inner fantasy lover in me. While it is written in first person, which usually deters me in fantasy I enjoyed reading this book once I became accustomed to its stride and speed.

This book sharply veers into much more dangerous territory towards the latter third, and I am quite pleased with the implications of these actions. The less you know the better, but as always, power and deception are quite the pair, with aftereffects that are catastrophic beyond repair. It is a relief to know the sequel is within grasp and I cannot wait to return to the world of the Remnant Chronicles.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Suspended in January: A Lazy Yet Hectic Start

I am well aware my title is contradictory at best, although it aptly describes myself in this first month. In some aspects, the new year did a fine job of spurring my inner ambitions, while in others I just barely pulled myself into gear.

San Fran trip + Viet food 
I led a rather shameful existence where I did not interact with anyone but my family for the period of my break, save for a lunch date with a dear friend, which alludes to how much of a bum I was during those few weeks. I stuffed myself full of my beloved Japanese food and shopped winter essentials before flying back to school. I signed up for a more ambitious course load this semester, which provides a welcome jolt of drive, as did the sharp cold that comes with below freezing temperatures. It snowed quite a lot, and I got to wear my adorable snow boots, as well as feel more authentic about being in winter. Trekking through snow just gives me quite a thrill I'd never quite experienced when I was younger due to the perpetually warm climate I was used to, and while I'm sure the novelty will wear off at some point, for now, I am a bundle of bright winter cheer.

Reading wise, I had a rather ambitious start. Of course I set my yearly reading goal on Goodreads to a optimistic 150 books, which seems to have spurred a rather impressive jump start with which I have read books this past month. By pure statistics, I think I read around 20 books, which I'd like to be proud of, although does it truly count if I spent half the month lazing around and being a general sloth, from sleeping in to effectively making my breakfast a brunch, just from the time slot I ate at in the mornings. I destroyed my sleep schedule very often through a determination to finish books in one sitting, either from sheer brilliance on the author's part or through my admittedly vulnerable heart which seems to attach itself readily to all variations of characterization.

more food + snow

Listing every book I read would be impossible indeed I would exhaust you, but grouped by genre I can briefly skim through the list. I started the year with my not-so-secret adoration of contemporary romance books, there just seems to be something about that genre that draws me in whether it be witty and smart banter to chemistry distinct from those of teenagers. My dear friend Lisa was very adept in directing me in the right direction, and I must say the highlight was Laura Florand who is absolutely phenomenal with her characters and each of her books is quite magical, I'm so utterly impressed by how intricate her relationships are. I finally finished Six of Crows, which if you can believe, I started on my plane ride home last month, yet never attempted to finish, a failing on my part since I adore this book now. I was not very taken with her original Grisha trilogy, but Bardugo has pulled a heist of my love indeed, I could gush eons about this book. I also read The Fixer, which I admit did not quite blow me away as I wanted. Switching genres, I read a lone regency in January, The Rogue Not Taken, which was just as wonderful as I expected, a channel for my occasional cravings of rogues and rakes, ladies with utterly clever banter, and ridiculously swoony scenes. Inferno, a highly awaited sequel for me, exceeded my expectations despite my misgivings about the precedent, and has me eager to continue this trilogy. Aptly described as The Godfather meets Romeo and Juliet, it's worth the frustration of the first one to get to this gem of a book. To round out the month, I finally ventured into the prestigious Winner's Trilogy, the first which lured me in slowly and the second which destroyed me with its jagged edges. Needless to say, besides my emotional investment in this trilogy, I am also firmly in awe of political tangles and the web of plot angles that Rutkoski has created.

I'm still struggling to find time outside of the chunks of reading time to construct blog posts, but I saw a post floating on the internet saying January is a trial month, February is where the real year begins, or something along those lines, so I have decided to take this to heart. January was a slow rise from the proverbial dead, which I dub my inner force, and now that the wake-up call of a new semester has kicked in, what with all the productive time slots I have available.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hello 2016, Let's Get Down to Business

As you should know, it's a new year. 2016. New beginnings and new opportunities. And as much as I would like to say I'm immune to the hopeful spirit of the new year, it's too infectious not to affected. And so I have penned a list of resolutions, or more ambitions, that will hopefully keep me on track instead of, well, slothing my way through life.

So without futher ado, here are the goals and such that I am aspiring to.

1. Get a handle on scheduling and writing posts beforehand.

If you follow my blog, you can probably discern that no, I am not a careful planner of any sort. Most of my reviews are written in a floundering heap, written feverishly the day before I post them. It's a terribly ineffective method, and this year I've promised myself that I will not fall into this trap, despite the tardiness of this post. (Not quite a winning factor, but let's move forward, shall we?)

2. Review books before jumping to start the next one.

I'm a serial reader. Jumping from book to book without taking a breath to stop and smell the flowers is a skill I've acquired through difficult time constraints and busy schedules. This of course, means that I often leave books with a simple few sentences and the cursory "review to come" on Goodreads, which usually ends up staying that way for months. I even have a shelf for not-yet-reviewed books that has books I read in February. It's come to the point where I must carefully reread each book when I come down to writing a review, because it has been so long since I first read it. So, this year, I'm trying hard not to fall back into bad habits, but we'll see how the rest of the year goes.

3. Work on features and other types of posts behind simple reviews.

I've tried working on features before, but the vast majority of blog posts I've crafted are reviews. I do enjoy writing reviews, but many times my favorite posts on other blogs are discussion posts, which I find fascinating to read. There are so many interesting topics to discuss in the bookish world, and when I do get the courage, I'd like to share mine.

On a different note, reviews can be quite time-consuming to read and write, thus I want to work on posts that differ a bit from the classic review, and yet offer the same experience as a review.

So those are my new years resolutions for this blog. May 2016 shine bright for all of us, and I hope I can look back on this post at the end of the year and be proud of myself. 


Friday, January 1, 2016

Suspended in 2015: The Year of New Beginnings

2015 was a pretty damn impressive year if I say so myself. I not only graduated high school but started college, the ultimate transition into adulthood. And of course, I started this blog this year, a major accomplishment, considering I'd been teetering on the edge about making one for so long. While I didn't get a chance to fully immerse myself in the community, I've admired it for a long time, and though it's a small corner, I'm glad I've stepped out to carve this space for myself.

I've missed eating food, especially Japanese food, which I adore with every fiber of my being. It's great to be back home and I like that I can sleep without consequence, unlike when I was at school, where the minutes ticked faster than you could imagine. Quite a lot of shopping has occurred now that I'm not contingent on my own purse, for necessities of course since I'm still woefully unprepared for real cold weather. Besides that and going out with friends, I've really been a bum, convincing myself that I'm being productive when I"m really not.

Possibly because I've been so caught up in relaxing and being lazy but the number of books I've read is dauntingly short despite my ambition to read as many as I could once I got home. I immersed myself in contemporary, with The Fill-In Boyfriend and On the Fence, both by Kasie West, although sadly I was less than impressed by the two. Fluff and I just do not seem to make a good pairing, although I tried to fall in love, there seems to be a cynic lurking underneath. Another contemporary I read was The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin, which made me sob in the last quarter so look out for a glowing review soon. (I keep making these promises don't I?) It's quite emotional, especially with the heartfelt moments, and I was reeled in by its promise of best friends falling in love trope, which it more than delivered on. I also read Winter, which was a satisfying conclusion, although top-heavy, with a few minor issues, but I must say I'm pleased by the end result. I struggled quite a bit with the multiple povs in the previous book, but Winter struck a nice balance in terms of variety, although content wise there were some issues. See How They Run takes the cake as my utter favorite however, not that I'm surprised because Ally Carter is my favorite of favorite authors. A truly excellent book, I was both astonished and enthralled by the twists and turns in this book in addition to what I must say is top-knotch characterization and elegance from Carter. I've been too lazy to add the books on Goodreads but I have plunged into the Amour et Chocolat series by Laura Florand. I'm impressed to say the least, by how well-crafted the characters are, the intricate layers of character development and entertained by the mouthwatering descriptions of chocolate.

I have not watched much TV, but I did start the gritty Chicago PD show, lured in by the attractive casting, mainly Sophia Bush really she's such a beauty. The Chicago trifectas: Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med, I've enjoyed from what I've seen. I was wary of them being too damn similar to other shows, and while I'm not sold on Chicago Med, I can definitely say PD  brings a different kind of cop to light. For cinema, I saw the much anticipated Star Wars, which reached for the stars and delivered on that promise, an impressive feat, and I am very much adoring the new young stars, may the Force be with them. I also saw The Intern, a bit late to the game, but Anne Hathaway never disappoints and Robert De Niro is always superb. I also saw Sisters, amusing but not quite my flair, it was a tad too comedic for my taste.

If I want to be emotional I guess this would be the appropriate place. I've made many new friends this year pretty much on Twitter (since I am absolutely shit at blogging consistently and making the social rounds, I promise I'll do better next year) but there is one person that deserves a shout out. That person is Siiri@Little Pieces of Imagination, a true fire-breathing dragon that I both look up to and love so very much. I would have never been able to start blogging if it weren't for her support and advice so thank you. There are many others I'd like to thank for lighting up my life with their presence, but I did make a thread on Twitter for that, seen here.

 I began blogging this year in April, but really I've been doing a deplorable job of staying on top of things. So 2016 you will be the year of new beginnings and the holder of my hopes and aspirations of accomplishing all that I set out to do instead of having drafts of incomplete reviews that never end up posted. I believe in you and may there be great things ahead for Airy Reads.