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August Wrap-Up: A Long but Good Month

Books

This month, I read 25-28 books. August is the first month where I have decided not to finish books – there were three that weren’t for me, but that others may like.

My favorite books were The Final Strife, The City of Dusk, and Siren Queen. I also re-read a few books, including the These Violent Delights duology which was just as amazing as the first time I read it.

College

I started university on August 29! I am so surprised because I like all of my professors, which is very lucky. My favorite class so far is Global Studies 101. I was worried that I wouldn’t like the readings, but I love them. I feel affirmed in my decision to have already declared my major. I don’t have a least favorite class; however, I do not like my ENVS 101 class because it is at 8:30 AM.

I need to give credit to students at my uni for following my #Bookstagram and getting me to 1.4k followers!! I have been hovering around 1400 for so long.

Life

Life is pretty good. I am excited for my birthday in September, and I am glad I get to celebrate with my family.

Yesterday, I went to WorldCon for the first time. I cannot believe that I just found out about it a week ago! I met N.E. Davenport, Xiran Jay Zhao, Gene Ha, and Apara Verma. Later this week, I will hopefully have a post up about my first WorldCon experience (it was amazing and I really hope to go to the Hugo Awards the next time!).

I also took a lot of photos for my ##Bookstagram account before I left for university, and I hope I have enough to last me the semester.

The An Ember in the Ashes Quartet by Sabaa Tahir.

September

My only goal for September is to get through my first month of college: go to every class, not get covid, read for fun, and make time for my own hobbies. I also have a few books I need to read and review from NetGalley: I am reading Study Break right now and I LOVE IT!! Being a first year college student, SB came at the perfect time.

How was your August?

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University Goals: Semester One

My dorm room desk and lofted bed.

In a few days, I will start my first day of my first year of university!! I moved in last weekend to one of the newer dorms on campus and I love it (however, there was a gnat problem in the bathroom, but it is supposed to get fixed soon). Here are my goals for the first semester:

Academic Goals

Academically, I’ve always been very hard on myself – the word most of my friends used to describe me in middle and even high school was serious. I would get super stressed if I didn’t get an A. That kind of changed in my senior year; I felt less stressed because I had less classes, but then college applications took the place of that stress.

I know that the first year of uni will be challenging, but here are the strategies I’m going to try to use to help relax:

  1. Ask questions in class and go to tutoring. This one is self explanatory.
  2. Set times where I don’t work on academics at all (including work for clubs) AND turn off my phone and computer. I think this’ll help my mind rest and prevent myself from comparing myself to others.
  3. Don’t go on my phone in bed. This one is kind of easy because I can only charge my phone on my desk and it is underneath my lofted bed, but I also got a new phone recently and the battery life is really good, so I could charge my phone and leave it on my nightstand. . .but I don’t want to do that.
  4. Read the syllabus and put all of my assignment dates in my calendar before.
  5. Get out of my dorm room to study. There are a few places on campus that I love and some outdoor places.

Social Goals

In the past year, I’ve learned that I need alone time, but I also need to balance that with a social life. I don’t want to isolate myself in my dorm, but I do want to make it a space where I can hang out with others.

  1. Join organizations – self explanatory.
  2. Get off campus – go to bookstores, find cute cafes, and find museums that give student discounts.
  3. Get to know my roommates – self explanatory.
  4. Reach out to people I know.
  5. Maintain my relationships with my high school friends.

Personal Goals

Outside of university life, I want to continue developing my hobbies. I want my life to not be consumed by uni/feeling like I need to do things for others.

  1. Read for fun. This might get hard when I have more reading assignments, but it’s a nice thing to do before I fall asleep.
  2. Maintain my blog and bookstagram, but also make sure that I prioritize homework and organization responsibilities.
  3. Workout – luckily, my campus is very walkable, but there’s also a decent gym and pool that I can use.
  4. Stay clean and organized.
  5. Join organizations such as the Filipino club and the Asian American Activism club.

Do you have any advice for a college first year?

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Books I’m Excited For: September – December 2022

I cannot believe we are in the last four months of 2022!! There are a lot of amazing books coming out in the next couple of months. Most of the ones I’m excited for are by authors I already know. I also want to give a special mention to the Fairyloot editions of The Gilded Wolves trilogy by Roshani Chokshi because I’ve preordered them and they are so gorgeous!! I cannot wait for my copies to arrive.

Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan: I read Daughter of the Moon Goddess so fast, and I am so happy that the sequel is coming out this year!! These are two of my favorite high fantasy covers of all time.

Synopsis:

After winning her mother’s freedom from the Celestial Emperor, Xingyin thrives in the enchanting tranquility of her home. But her fragile peace is threatened by the discovery of a strange magic on the moon and the unsettling changes in the Celestial Kingdom as the emperor tightens his grip on power. While Xingyin is determined to keep clear of the rising danger, the discovery of a shocking truth spurs her into a perilous confrontation.

Forced to flee her home once more, Xingyin and her companions venture to unexplored lands of the Immortal Realm, encountering legendary creatures and shrewd monarchs, beloved friends and bitter adversaries. With alliances shifting quicker than the tides, Xingyin has to overcome past grudges and enmities to forge a new path forward, seeking aid where she never imagined she would. As an unspeakable terror sweeps across the realm, Xingyin must uncover the truth of her heart and claw her way through devastation–to rise against this evil before it destroys everything she holds dear, and the worlds she has grown to love… even if doing so demands the greatest price of all.

Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong: I have already preordered two editions of this book. All I’ve seen are positive reviews, so I am super excited! I am re-reading Our Violent Ends (as of 8/20/2022) and still love the TVD duology.

Synopsis: It’s 1931 in Shanghai, and the stage is set for a new decade of intrigue.

Four years ago, Rosalind Lang was brought back from the brink of death, but the strange experiment that saved her also stopped her from sleeping and aging—and allows her to heal from any wound. In short, Rosalind cannot die. Now, desperate for redemption for her traitorous past, she uses her abilities as an assassin for her country.

Code name: Fortune.

But when the Japanese Imperial Army begins its invasion march, Rosalind’s mission pivots. A series of murders is causing unrest in Shanghai, and the Japanese are under suspicion. Rosalind’s new orders are to infiltrate foreign society and identify the culprits behind the terror plot before more of her people are killed.

To reduce suspicion, however, she must pose as the wife of another Nationalist spy, Orion Hong, and though Rosalind finds Orion’s cavalier attitude and playboy demeanor infuriating, she is willing to work with him for the greater good. But Orion has an agenda of his own, and Rosalind has secrets that she wants to keep buried. As they both attempt to unravel the conspiracy, the two spies soon find that there are deeper and more horrifying layers to this mystery than they ever imagined. 

Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn: ahhhh I am so happy this one is coming out so soon!! The Fairyloot editions are so pretty. I am so ready to see Bree again. This is one of the best YA retellings I’ve ever read.

Synopsis: The shadows have risen, and the line is law.

All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. Now, Bree has become someone new:

A Medium. A Bloodcrafter. A Scion.

But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.

Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected.

When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.

If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.

Everyone Hates Kelsie Miller by Meredith Ireland: I am so happy to see books by and centering adoptees in stories that aren’t just about their adoption. Meredith Ireland’s The Jasmine Project was one of my favorite books of 2021, so I’m excited for her second book! The main character of this book is also an Asian adoptee, like me : )

Synopsis: There’s no one Kelsie Miller hates more than Eric Mulvaney Ortiz—the homecoming king, captain of the football team, and academic archrival in her hyper-competitive prep school. But after Kelsie’s best friend, Briana, moves across the country and stops speaking to her, she’ll do anything, even talk to Eric, to find out why.

After they run into each other—literally—at the last high school party of the summer, Eric admits he’s been ghosted by his girlfriend, Jessica. Kelsie tells him she’s had zero contact from Briana since she left their upstate New York town.

Suddenly, a plan is formed: they’ll go on a road trip to the University of Pennsylvania the following week when both Briana and Jessica will be on campus. Together, they’ll do whatever it takes to win back their exes.

What could go wrong?

Used to succeeding in everything, Kelsie and Eric assume they’ll naturally figure out the details on the drive down. What they don’t expect is that the person they actually need may be the one sitting next to them. 

Strike the Zither by Joan He: Joan He is one of my favorite authors! I read DOTC when it came out in 2019, and now I am a part of the street team for her books. All of her covers should be framed!

Synopsis: The year is 414 of the Xin Dynasty, and chaos abounds. A puppet empress is on the throne. The realm has fractured into three factions and three warlordesses hoping to claim the continent for themselves.

But Zephyr knows it’s no contest.

Orphaned at a young age, Zephyr took control of her fate by becoming the best strategist of the land and serving under Xin Ren, a warlordess whose loyalty to the empress is double-edged—while Ren’s honor draws Zephyr to her cause, it also jeopardizes their survival in a war where one must betray or be betrayed. When Zephyr is forced to infiltrate an enemy camp to keep Ren’s followers from being slaughtered, she encounters the enigmatic Crow, an opposing strategist who is finally her match. But there are more enemies than one—and not all of them are human.

What books are you looking forward to that are coming out in September-December?

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BLOG TOUR: Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin

I am so grateful to be a part of the #MatatagAtMatapangTour for Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin, hosted by Kate @ Your Tita Kate (https://yourtitakate.com/blog-tour-dauntless/)! Ever since I got into reading more, I’ve been looking for books by Filipino authors. Now, I’m happy to say that Dauntless will be joining my collection of books by Filipino authors.

My Thoughts

Dauntless starts out as an adventure novel. Seri is a valiant, and is a part of a group of warriors that hunt beasts and explore the unknown part of their world. I felt that the story increased in action and my anticipation increased with every (virtual) page I turned. I was excited when Seri met Tsana, a mysterious girl, in a market. By this point, the pacing of Dauntless really drew me in to the story.

One aspect that surprised me was that Tsana narrates some chapters! I love it when the two main characters narrate a novel – I like seeing how they see each other. Both Tsana and Seri challenge each other. Tsana challenges Seri to see the world differently than what Seri thought she knew. Elisa A. Bonnin has done a great job of seamlessly crafting the history of the world into the overarching story, and Seri and Tsana’s romantic relationship. I also liked Eshai and Lavit’s relationship. They had a great dynamic.

As Dauntless progresses, it becomes so much more than an adventure story – it’s a story of the powerful bonds between living beings and how the unknown can be challenging to face at first, but it becomes easier when you have people beside you. The characters battle supposed beasts, the truth, and fight to understand their own paths. This sapphic fantasy novel is one of my favorites of 2022, and I hope there is a sequel; however, the ending makes this a great standalone too!

Synopsis

“Be dauntless, for the hopes of the People rest in you.” 

Seri’s world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana. 

Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts – a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she’s ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.

Author Bio

Elisa A. Bonnin was born and raised in the Philippines, after which she moved to the United States to study chemistry and later oceanography. After completing her doctorate, she moved to Germany to work as a postdoctoral scientist. A lifelong learner, Elisa is always convinced that she should “maybe take a class in something” and as a result, has amassed an eclectic collection of hobbies. But writing will always be her true love. Publishing a book has been her dream since she was eight years old, and she is thrilled to finally be able to share her stories. Dauntless is her first novel.

*I received an e-ARC from Netgalley as a part of the tour. This did not influence my opinion of the book.

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Midyear Book Tag

Looking back on this year so far, I realize I haven’t loved a ton of books. There are a few standouts, but I find myself feeling less connected to YA books and more into Adult Fantasy/Contemporary and nonfiction books. Here is my 2022 Midyear Book Tag!

Best Books I’ve read so far

  • The Ikessar Falcon and The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso: I would love for more people to read the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy because this ending. . . .ahhh!!! Talyien is one of my favorite heroines of all time.
  • The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri: I received an e-ARC of this from Netgalley last year, and DNF’ed it, but this year, I finally read a finished copy! This feminist sapphic fantasy is about two women and their lives during a time of revolution and sexism.
  • The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport: N.E. Davenport is my new favorite fantasy author. Ikenna is amazing and I cannot wait to see her journey continue in The Blood Gift.
  • The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah: What a great start to a new fantasy series!! I received an e-ARC from Netgalley but was able to check out a copy from the library soon after it came out.
  • Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li: I LOVE ART MYSTERIES!!!! Especially ones that address art stolen by countries that they don’t belong to. Every main character in this book is Chinese American and is a part of the diaspora.

Best Sequel(S) I’ve read so far

  • The Ikessar Falcon and The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso

New Release(S) I Haven’t Read yet, but want to

  • Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel: I’ve seen positive reviews of this one and I hope to get to it soon!
  • The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi: I’ve been following Saara El-Arifi for a few weeks now, and this is the start of a new fantasy trilogy.

biggest disappointment

A Show For Two by Tashie Bhuiyan. I couldn’t get into it. I think I’m gravitating away from YA Contemporary.

Biggest Surprise

A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair. I don’t read a lot of romantic adult fantasy, but I think to compare this to some other older fantasy books is unfair. I liked Keera a lot and her growth throughout the novel. *I received a free ARC from the publisher, which did not influence my opinion of the book.

Favorite author (debut or new to you)

N.E. Davenport!!! She is amazing and I am so ready for The Blood Gift!! I read The Blood Trials in a day. Her writing is so cinematic.

The Most beautiful book you’ve bought or received this year

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. I love the character illustrations throughout and the library themed endpapers.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

  • The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo: I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet. It will happen soon!!
  • Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang: I will read anything R.F. Kuang writes.

Favorite book to movie/tv series adaptation you’ve seen this year

None. . .I am really enjoying Only Murders in the Building, though!

Thoughts? Any adult fantasy book recs for me?

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Books by Asian Authors I’m Excited For: Pt. 2

Here are 20 more books by Asian authors I’m excited for, including their synopses, as well as some of my own throughts! There will be spoilers for the first three books of The Beautiful quartet, the first book of the Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Series, Daughter of the Moon Goddess, and The Atlas Six.

The Ruined by Renée Ahdieh.

The Ruined by Renée Ahdieh
The Sylvan Vale and the Sylvan Wyld are at war. Now that the unsteady truce between them has been broken, lines must be drawn. In an effort to protect the weakened Winter Court, Bastien rallies powerful allies and friends in New Orleans to come to their aid.

Meanwhile, under protection alongside her injured mother in the Summer Court, Celine is uncertain of whom to trust. She cannot get word to Bastien, and does not understand why he has not returned. When she realizes war between the fey courts is imminent, she journeys with Ali in an effort to find the time traveling mirror and change their fate.

But when Celine’s rivals realize Bastien has rallied his allies in the mortal world, they decide to take the fight to him.


Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala.

Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala
I can’t believe I still haven’t read this one!!

Things are heating up for Lila Macapagal. Not in her love life, which she insists on keeping nonexistent despite the attention of two very eligible bachelors. Or her professional life, since she can’t bring herself to open her new cafe after the unpleasantness that occurred a few months ago at her aunt’s Filipino restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. No, things are heating up quite literally, since summer, her least favorite season, has just started.

To add to her feelings of sticky unease, Lila’s little town of Shady Palms has resurrected the Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant, which she won many years ago–a fact that serves as a wedge between Lila and her cousin slash rival, Bernadette. But when the head judge of the pageant is murdered and Bernadette becomes the main suspect, the two must put aside their differences and solve the case–because it looks like one of them might be next.


My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth.

My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth
This is one of my favorite contemporary YA romance novels of this year.

Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn’t seem to like her either.
 
Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they’ve made more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made each other and the team better. Because girls do belong in STEM.
 
In her YA debut, Alexene Farol Follmuth, author of The Atlas Six (under the penname Olivie Blake), explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty. With an adorable, opposites-attract romance at its center and lines that beg to be read aloud, My Mechanical Romance is swoonworthy perfection.


Set on You by Amy Lea.

Set on You by Amy Lea

Curvy fitness influencer Crystal Chen built her career shattering gym stereotypes and mostly ignoring the trolls. After her recent breakup, she has little stamina left for men, instead finding solace in the gym – her place of power and positivity.

Enter firefighter Scott Ritchie, the smug new gym patron who routinely steals her favorite squat rack. Sparks fly as these ultra-competitive foes battle for gym domination. But after a series of escalating jabs, the last thing they expect is to run into each other at their grandparents’ engagement party.

In the lead up to their grandparents’ wedding, Crystal discovers there’s a soft heart under Scott’s muscled exterior. Bonding over family, fitness, and cheesy pick-up lines, she just might have found her swolemate. But when a photo of them goes viral, savage internet trolls put their budding relationship to the ultimate test of strength. 


Freddie vs. The Family Curse by Tracy Badua.

Freddie Vs. The Family Curse by Tracy Badua
In this thrilling and hilarious middle grade adventure, a young Filipino-American boy must team up with his ancestor to break the curse that’s haunted their family for generations. . . or be trapped in an amulet forever.


Strike the Zither by Joan He.

Strike the Zither by Joan He
The year is 414 of the Xin Dynasty, and chaos abounds. A puppet empress is on the throne. The realm has fractured into three factions and three warlordesses hoping to claim the continent for themselves.

But Zephyr knows it’s no contest.

Orphaned at a young age, Zephyr took control of her fate by becoming the best strategist of the land and serving under Xin Ren, a warlordess whose loyalty to the empress is double-edged—while Ren’s honor draws Zephyr to her cause, it also jeopardizes their survival in a war where one must betray or be betrayed. When Zephyr is forced to infiltrate an enemy camp to keep Ren’s followers from being slaughtered, she encounters the enigmatic Crow, an opposing strategist who is finally her match. But there are more enemies than one—and not all of them are human. 


The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake.

The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake
Six magicians were presented with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Five are now members of the Society.
Two paths lay before them.

All must pick a side.

Alliances will be tested, hearts will be broken, and The Society of Alexandrians will be revealed for what it is: a secret society with raw, world-changing power, headed by a man whose plans to change life as we know it are already under way.

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How Maya Got Fierce by Sona Charaipotra.

How Maya Got Fierce by Sona Charaipotra
Ever since she was little, farmer’s daughter Maya Gera has known what her future holds.

The heiress to a mini garlic empire in the heart of Gilroy, California, she’s meant to be a good Indian girl — which means agriculture school, an MBA, and settling down with a suitable Sikh boy.

So spending her 17th summer at cow camp in New Jersey is a really big deal. Farm kids nationwide convene to learn to milk cows, shuck corn, and, uh, form ‘strategic alliances.’ But when Maya gets kicked out of camp after an expensive accident — yes, it involves a boy — she scrambles to save face and keep her parents from finding out. Hard to do when she owes the school thousands of dollars.

Desperate to earn enough to pay off her mistake, Maya interviews for an internship at Fierce, a fashion magazine she’s been obsessed with forever. When she lands a gig as assistant features editor, it’s a New York City dream come true. Especially because she rocks at it.

But it might soon become her worst nightmare — because the Fierce folks think she’s 26.

And just wait until her parents find out.


Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim.

Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim
After the destruction of her entire Talon gang, eighteen-year-old Shin Lina—the Reaper of Sunpo—is forced to become a living, breathing weapon for the kingdom’s most-feared crime lord. All that keeps her from turning on her ruthless master is the life of her beloved little sister hanging in the balance. But the order to steal a priceless tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple incites not only the wrath of a legendary immortal, but the beginning of an unwinnable game…

Suddenly Lina finds herself in the dreamlike realm of the Dokkaebi, her fate in the hands of its cruel and captivating emperor. But she can win her life—if she kills him first.

Now a terrible game of life and death has begun, and even Lina’s swift, precise blade is no match for the magnetic Haneul Rui. Lina will have to use every weapon in her arsenal if she wants to outplay this cunning king and save her sister…all before the final grain of sand leaks out of the hourglass.

Because one way or another, she’ll take Rui’s heart.

Even if it means giving up her own.


The Charmed List by Julie Abe.

The Charmed List by Julie Abe
After spending most of high school as the quiet girl, Ellie Kobata is ready to take some risks and have a life-changing summer, starting with her Anti-Wallflower List—thirteen items she’s going to check off one by one. She’s looking forward to riding rollercoasters, making her art Instagram public (maybe), and going on an epic road-trip with her best friend Lia.

But when number four on Ellie’s list goes horribly wrong—revenge on Jack Yasuda—she’s certain her summer has gone from charmed to cursed. Instead of a road trip with Lia, Ellie finds herself stuck in a car with Jack driving to a magical convention. But as Ellie and Jack travel down the coast of California, number thirteen on her list—fall in love—may be happening without her realizing it.

In The Charmed List, Julie Abe sweeps readers away to a secret magical world, complete with cupcakes and tea with added sparks of joy, and an enchanted cottage where you can dance under the stars. 


Chloe and the Kaishao Boys by Mae Coyiuto.

Chloe and the Kaishao Boys by Mae Coyiuto
Chloe is officially off the waitlist at USC, and thus one step closer to realizing her dream of becoming an animator in the United States. But before she leaves home, her auntie insists on planning a traditional debut for Chloe’s eighteenth birthday (think sweet sixteen meets debutante ball). To make matters worse, her father, intent on finding Chloe the perfect escort for the party, keeps setting her up on one awkward kaishao—or arranged date—after another. But . . . why does her dad suddenly care so much about her love life? And what happens when she actually starts to fall for one of the guys, only to have to leave at the end of the summer?
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The Darkening by Sunya Mara.

The Darkening by Sunya Mara
In this thrilling and epic YA fantasy debut the only hope for a city trapped in the eye of a cursed storm lies with the daughter of failed revolutionaries and a prince terrified of his throne.

Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate.

Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic.

Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers.

Even cheat her way into his cold heart.

But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.


When You Wish Upon a Lantern by Gloria Chao.

When You Wish Upon A Lantern by Gloria Chao
Liya and Kai had been best friends since they were little kids, but all that changed when a humiliating incident sparked The Biggest Misunderstanding Of All Time—and they haven’t spoken since.

Then Liya discovers her family’s wishing lantern store is struggling, and she decides to resume a tradition she had with her beloved late grandmother: secretly fulfilling the wishes people write on the lanterns they send into the sky. It may boost sales and save the store, but she can’t do it alone . . . and Kai is the only one who cares enough to help.

While working on their covert missions, Liya and Kai rekindle their friendship—and maybe more. But when their feuding families and their changing futures threaten to tear them apart again, can they find a way to make their own wishes come true?


Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra.

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra
Katyani’s role in the kingdom of Chandela has always been clear: becoming an advisor and protector of the crown prince, Ayan, when he ascends to the throne. Bound to the Queen of Chandela through a forbidden soul bond that saved her when she was a child, Katyani has grown up in the royal family and become the best guardswoman the Garuda has ever seen. But when a series of assassination attempts threatens the royals, Katyani is shipped off to the gurukul of the famous Acharya Mahavir as an escort to Ayan and his cousin, Bhairav, to protect them as they hone the skills needed to be the next leaders of the kingdom. Nothing could annoy Katyani more than being stuck in a monastic school in the middle of a forest, except her run-ins with Daksh, the Acharya’s son, who can’t stop going on about the rules and whose gaze makes her feel like he can see into her soul.

But when Katyani and the princes are hurriedly summoned back to Chandela before their training is complete, tragedy strikes and Katyani is torn from the only life she has ever known. Alone and betrayed in a land infested by monsters, Katyani must find answers from her past to save all she loves and forge her own destiny. Bonds can be broken, but debts must be repaid.


Everyone Hates Kelsie Miller by Meredith Ireland.

Everyone Hates Kelsie Miller by Meredith Ireland
There’s no one Kelsie Miller hates more than Eric Mulvaney Ortiz—the homecoming king, captain of the football team, and academic archrival in her hyper-competitive prep school. But after Kelsie’s best friend, Briana, moves across the country and stops speaking to her, she’ll do anything, even talk to Eric, to find out why.

After they run into each other—literally—at the last high school party of the summer, Eric admits he’s been ghosted by his girlfriend, Jessica. Kelsie tells him she’s had zero contact from Briana since she left their upstate New York town.

Suddenly, a plan is formed: they’ll go on a road trip to the University of Pennsylvania the following week when both Briana and Jessica will be on campus. Together, they’ll do whatever it takes to win back their exes.

What could go wrong?

Used to succeeding in everything, Kelsie and Eric assume they’ll naturally figure out the details on the drive down. What they don’t expect is that the person they actually need may be the one sitting next to them. 


Meet Me in Mumbai by Sabina Khan.

Meet Me In Mumbai by Sabina Khan
Seventeen-year-old Mira Fuller-Jensen was adopted by her moms at birth. All she knows about her biological mother is that she was a high-school student from India who returned to India after giving birth. Although Mira loves her moms, she’s always felt out of place in her mostly white community.

So when Mira finds an old box with letters addressed to her from her birth mother, she sees a way to finally capture that feeling of belonging. Her mother writes that if Mira can forgive her for having to give her up, she should find a way to travel to India for her eighteenth birthday and meet her. Mira knows she’ll always regret it if she doesn’t go. But is she actually ready for what she will learn?
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Daughters of the Dawn by Sarena and Sasha Nanua.

Daughters of the Dawn by Sarena and Sasha Nanua
The powerful Bloodstone is in dangerous hands. And a deadly new threat rises.

Ria and Rani have barely settled into their new lives at the palace–as princesses, as sisters–when a sinister prophecy uproots them once more.

The Blood Moon will rise in one month’s time, and with it their enemy Amara’s opportunity to destroy everything Ria and Rani hold dear.

The twin princesses must find Amara–a deadly search that separates Ria and Rani once more and takes them to wintry kingdoms and scorching deserts, pitting them against ancient mysteries and trap-ridden labyrinths, lethal sea monsters and an elusive enemy that steals into their very dreams.


A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo.

A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo
Aria Tang West was looking forward to a summer on Martha’s Vineyard with her best friends–one last round of sand and sun before college. But after a graduation party goes wrong, Aria’s parents exile her to California to stay with her grandmother, artist Joan West. Aria expects boredom, but what she finds is Steph Nichols, her grandmother’s gardener. Soon, Aria is second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be, and a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable–for Aria, her family, and the working-class queer community Steph introduces her to. It’s the kind of summer that changes a life forever.
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A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar.

A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar
A thief. An artist. A acrobat. An actress. While Josefa, Emilie, Hinnah, and Violet seemingly don’t have anything in common, they’re united in one goal: stealing the Rubaiyat, a jewel-encrusted book aboard the RMS Titanic that just might be the golden ticket to solving their problems.

But careless mistakes, old grudges, and new romance threaten to jeopardize everything they’ve worked for and put them in incredible danger when tragedy strikes. While the odds of pulling off the heist are slim, the odds of survival are even slimmer . . .
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Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan.

Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan
After winning her mother’s freedom from the Celestial Emperor, Xingyin thrives in the enchanting tranquility of her home. But her fragile peace is threatened by the discovery of a strange magic on the moon, and the unsettling changes in the Celestial Kingdom as the emperor tightens his grip on power.

While Xingyin is determined to keep clear of the rising danger, the discovery of a shocking truth spurs her into a perilous confrontation. Forced to flee her home once more, Xingyin and her companions venture to unexplored lands of the Immortal Realm, encountering legendary creatures and shrewd monarchs, beloved friends and bitter adversaries. With alliances shifting quicker than the tides, Xingyin has to overcome past grudges and enmities to forge a new path forward, seeking aid where she never imagined she would.

As an unspeakable terror sweeps across the realm, Xingyin must uncover the truth of her heart and claw her way through devastation – to rise against this evil before it destroys everything she holds dear, and the worlds she has grown to love… even if doing so demands the greatest price of all.

The epic conclusion to her sweeping Celestial Kingdom series, Sue Lynn Tan’s tale of Xingyin, the daughter of the moon goddess, delves deeper into beloved Chinese myths, weaving them into a wholly new and magical story.

What books would you add to this list? Have you read any of them?

Featured

Book Reviews ft. A Fairytale Retelling, A YA Romance, and A New Nonfiction Favorite

I’m the lead editor for my school’s student led newspaper this year, and this month, I wrote three book reviews for the newspaper! It’s exciting because my reviews were part of our first issue this school year. I hope you all are inspired to read these books, as they’re some of my favorites I’ve read this year.

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron – Cinderella is Dead is an adventurous fairy tale with a f/f relationship at the center by Kalynn Bayron, who takes the original elements of Cindrella and turns them into a new world where the story of Cinderella is a part of history. The main character, Sophia, wants to marry her best friend, Erin, but has to attend a ball where she’ll be forced into marriage. This ball is meant to pay homage to the tale of Cindrella, but is instead a lie meant to conceal the true story of Cindrella. While escaping the ball, and her seemingly inevitable unwanted marriage, Sophia meets Constance, Cinderella’s last living descendant. Sophia finds herself embroiled in a mission to upend the patriarchal structure of her world. Overall, I loved this feminist take on the Cinderella story. 

The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland – As an adoptee, The Jasmine Project stands out to me because it’s by an Asian adoptee and is about an Asian adoptee living her everyday life. Jasmine, the main character, finds her carefully planned summer upended when she finds out that her boyfriend, Paul, is cheating on her. Jasmine has no idea what she’s going to do for the rest of her summer before she starts college – until she meets three guys. Unbeknownst to Jasmine, her meddlesome family is trying to help her by setting her up with three guys to show Jasmine that she should be with someone who truly appreciates her. Throughout the book, Jasmine’s journey to love proves that love cannot be planned. The Jasmine Project is for fans of YA rom-coms and stories about self love, familial love, and all types of love.

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists by Mikki Kendall, illustrated by A. D’Amico – Everyone should read this book because the movement for women’s rights impacts everyone. Women’s advocacy has existed for as long as human civilization, so I appreciate the fact that Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is about the intersectionality of the women’s rights movement. For example, Fatima bint Muhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya “a Muslim woman, founded a mosque and library that become the University of Al Quaraouiyine. . .the world’s oldest continually operating educational institution” (Kendall and A. D’Amico 22). Kendall’s motivating writing and D’Amico’s captivating illustrations bring the stories of women to life and illuminate the fact that the women’s rights movement is ongoing.

If you’ve read these books, what did you think of them?

Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale – Colored Pages Book Tours

Beauty and the Besharam cover. By Lillie Vale.

I’m so excited that I’m a part of the book tour for Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale. This is a contemporary version of Beauty and the Beast, and so much more. I read it once, and then I immediately read it again. Thanks to Colored Pages Book Tours and Penguin Teen for the finished copy. This did not influence my rating/review of the book.

Review

Beauty and the Besharam is my new favorite contemporary novel. It’s so relatable and yes, there is romance, and I also like how there were other side plots that were well balanced with the narrative. Kavya Joshi, who is Indian American, is at the end of her junior year of high school. All year, she’s been competing with Ian Jun, who is her rival. So, Kavya’s friends decide to try to help end their rivalry by setting up competitions for Kavya and Ian throughout the summer. However, Kavya and Ian start to realize that maybe there’s more to their relationship than just being competitors.

Kavya

This is a book I wish I’d had when I was starting high school. Kavya is confident and unafraid to speak her mind. She also loves reading (like me), and works as a princess for children’s birthdays during the summer and on weekends. Throughout the book, we see Kavya’s identity as a teenage girl, sister, Indian American, reader, friend – Lillie Vale’s characters jump off the page and truly come to life in what’s an immersive romance AND a coming of age. She doesn’t have to lessen herself to be seen and be loved. I felt very empowered.

Romance

I really felt like the romance was organic. When I’m reading a rivals to lovers romance, I’m looking for a romance where both characters respect each other. I also loved that Beauty and the Besharam was set during summertime – seeing Kavya and Ian’s relationship outside of school helped me get to know the characters outside of their school environment. There’s so many fun summer activities in the book: going to the library, going to a riverwalk, canoeing. Kavya and Ian start to understand that there’s more to each other than what they’ve thought of each other in school, and it felt like I was on their journey right alongside them.

Family and Friendships

The frienships in this book!! Yes! I love supportive female friendships! I wish I could be a part of Kavya’s friend group. I also enjoyed Kavya’s relationship with her sister and how they both learned from each other.

Overall Thoughts

This is my new favorite contemporary, YA romance book. I’m going to re-read it again soon because it came out quite close to when my school year ends (and includes empowering characters, messing up, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes, female friendships, and summertime fun). I highly recommend Beauty and the Besharam!

Book Recommendations based on Beauty and the Besharam

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

The Tiger at Midnight cover. Written by Swati Teerdhala.

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala is an enemies to lovers/rivals to lovers romance set in a world where the gods have disappeared and magic is banned. Esha and Kunal’s competition in a game of outwitting each other and hiding who they truly are reminds me of Kavya and Ian’s competition of learning who they really are.


The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland

The Jasmine Project cover. Written by Meredith Ireland.

The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland includes a main character who’s romantic life is also being meddled in. In this book, Jasmine’s family (her siblings, cousins, etc.) try to set her up with three boys over the summer after she breaks up with her cheating boyfriend. Another contemporary romance novel I highly recommend!


The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

The Way You Make Me Feel cover. By Maurene Goo.

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo stars Clara Shin, a high school junior who has to work at her dad’s food truck with her enemy after Clara’s prank at her dance goes wrong. Both Kavya and Clara are confident and unafraid to be themselves.

Beauty and the Besharam: Synopsis

Heated competition leads to even hotter romance in this YA summer rom-com for fans of Sandhya Menon, Emma Lord, and Wibbroka.

Seventeen-year-old, high-achieving Kavya Joshi has always been told she’s a little too ambitious, a little too mouthy, and overall just a little too much. In one word: besharam.

So, when her nemesis, Ian Jun, witnesses Kavya’s very public breakup with her loser boyfriend on the last day of junior year, she decides to lay low and spend the summer doing what she loves best–working part time playing princess roles for childrens’ birthday parties. But her plan is shot when she’s cast as Ariel instead of her beloved Belle, and learns that Ian will be her Prince Eric for the summer. [Cue the combative banter.]

Exhausted by Kavya and Ian’s years-long feud, their friends hatch a plan to end their rivalry by convincing them to participate in a series of challenges throughout the summer. Kavya is only too eager to finally be declared the winner. But as the competition heats up, so too does the romantic tension, until it escalates from a simmer to a full-on burn. 

Book Links

Author Information

Lillie Vale is the author of books for both teens and adults, including The Decoy Girlfriend, Beauty and the Besharam, The Shaadi Set-Up, and Small Town Hearts, an American Library Association’s 2020 Rainbow Books List selection. She writes about secrets and yearning, complicated and ambitious girls who know what they want, the places we call home and people we find our way back to, and the magic we make. Born in Mumbai, she grew up in Mississippi, Texas, and North Dakota, and now lives in an Indiana college town. Find her on Twitter @LillieLabyrinth and Instagram @labyrinthspine, or visit her website lillielabyrinth.com.

Author Links

Book Tour Schedule

May 23rd

Misty Realms – Blog Interview 
Purposely Unperfect – Playlist 

May 24th 

Clouded Galaxy Reads – Playlist
Wiltedpages – Instagram Feed Post

May 25th 

Tales Of A Bookbug – Book Review
Bohemian Bibliophile – Favorite Quotes

May 26th

@bansheesbookstagram – Instagram Feed Post
Solace in Reading – Book Recommendations Based on Book

May 27th 

@bonggirlinabookworld – Instagram Feed Post
Melancholic Blithe – Blog Interview
Little Corner Reads – Book Recommendations Based On Book

May 28th 

@toffiladyreader – Instagram Feed Post
PopTheButterfly Reads – Book Review

May 29th 

Mulberryreads – Book Review
@book_with_girl – Book Review
Read in the Clouds – Book Review

Giveaway Information

I’m teaming up with ColoredPages and PenguinTeen to give away 5 (FIVE) finished copies of Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale! Follow the link in the bio to enter this US ONLY giveaway! You must be 18 years or older, or have parental permission to share your address if you win. The giveaway ends on 30th May at 11:59 EST.
 
Link to the giveaway (if rafflecopter is not working): http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c5f831b92/

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Books by Asian Authors I’m Excited For: 2021 – 2022

There are a variety of books out there by Asian authors. Some of them are inspired by mythology and some take place in history.This post will include spoilers for Where Dreams Descend, These Violent Delights, Girls of Paper and Fire, Girls of Storm and Shadow, and The Bronzed Beasts. Also, I started writing this in 2021, and by now, I’ve read a lot of these, so there will definitely be a part two coming to this post soon.

When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles – oh no I’m stuck in a mirror with a mysterious guy, magicians messing things up, a LI who would go to the ends of the world for their loved ones, my past is covered by a mysterious fog

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong – a continuation of Juliette and Roma’s tale, I want to control my destiny but I’m afraid my path has already been set out for me, oh no, there’s a spy in our midst, trying to find answers but I’m too distracted by love. . .or hate

XOXO by Axie Oh: falling in love, taking risks and uprooting my life. This book is gorgeous and on the hardcover, the cover is printed right on the book under the dust jacket. I also highly recommend Axie Oh’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea!!

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao – Katie Zhao’s books are a must read if your’re a fan of academia themed novels. Jaime, Nancy’s former friend, is found dead. What follows is a stunning and twisting mystery. (Also, I recently received an ARC of The Lies We Tell from Bloomsbury, and I read it in a day. Only three more months until it comes out!!)

Brown Boy Nowhere by Sheeryl Lim – I started reading this one and never finished it!! Sheeryl Lim is a Filipino American author, and the main character of this book is also Filipino American.

The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland – centers Jasmine, who is Korean and adopted, self love is important!, cooking and excellent food, figuring out what you want to do after high school, the inspiration that can come from a Bachelor podcast, close-knit family

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi – If I could choose any series to re-read again, it would be this one. The ending of The Silvered Serpents. . .I am not over it. Also, this is the first fantasy book series I’ve read with a Filipino main character!

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get what I want, taking down a misogynistic system, who is in control of my destiny, fully developed side characters, I’d read 10 books about Zetian, what just happened re: that ending!

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker – I got this one back in February and still have to read it! Ren Scarborough is a British Reaper and Japanese Shinigami. This book hooked me from the very first chapter.

Jade Fire Gold by Julie CL Tan – dual perspectives, these magic powers frighten me and excite me at the same time, a hidden past, we’re meant to be enemies, but I don’t think we are, palace life isn’t what I thought it would be

Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan – I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet! This is the finale to the Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy. At the end of Girls of Storm and Shadow, Lei and Wren were separated – that cliffhanger!

Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin – A Filipino inspired fantasy novel? By a Filipino author? Absolutely yes!! I have an e-ARC of this one I still need to get to.

Babel by R.F. Kuang – One of my most anticipated book so fthe year!!

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.

Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?

Babel — a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire.

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen – I am so in love with this cover, and I cannot wait for this fantasy novel with a morally grey protagonist!

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin – I’ve heard a lot of great things about this one:

I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan – I read The Astonishing Color of After around the time it came out, and I remember really enjoying the writing style:

Hunter Yee has perfect aim with a bow and arrow, but all else in his life veers wrong. He’s sick of being haunted by his family’s past mistakes. The only things keeping him from running away are his little brother, a supernatural wind, and the bewitching girl at his new high school.

Luna Chang dreads the future. Graduation looms ahead, and her parents’ expectations are stifling. When she begins to break the rules, she finds her life upended by the strange new boy in her class, the arrival of unearthly fireflies, and an ominous crack spreading across the town of Fairbridge.

As Hunter and Luna navigate their families’ enmity and secrets, everything around them begins to fall apart. All they can depend on is their love… but time is running out, and fate will have its way.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan – This is definitely one of my favorite fantasy novels of the year. It felt like stepping into an enchanted forest, only to realize that the world inside wants to steal you forever – and this world will allow you to create your own destiny.

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman – four perspectives, racing to find an artifact, will there be betrayal?, who killed my mom?, what does it mean to be a leader?, why aren’t others questioning our leaders?

Once Upon A K-Prom by Kat Cho – I love seeing authors branch out into different genres! This is a contemporary romance novel centering around prom – I definitely want to get to this one soon because my prom is next weekend!

The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim – the cover for this one is coming out next week! This is a contemporary romance novel about Zahra Khan, a Bangladeshi American teenanger.

Zahra Khan is basically Bangladeshi royalty, but being a princess doesn’t pay the bills in Paterson, New Jersey. While Zahra’s plans for financial security this summer involve working long hours at Chai Ho and saving up for college writing courses, Amma is convinced that all Zahra needs is a “good match,” Jane Austen style.

Enter Harun Emon, who’s wealthy, devastatingly handsome, and…aloof. As soon as Zahra meets him, she knows it’s a bad match. It’s nothing like the connection she has with Nayim Aktar, the new dishwasher at the tea shop, who just gets Zahra in a way no one has before. So, when Zahra finds out that Harun is just as uninterested in this match as she is, they decide to slowly sabotage their parents’ plans. And for once in Zahra’s life, she can have her rossomalai and eat it too: “dating” Harun and keeping Amma happy while catching real feelings for Nayim.

But life—and boys—can be more complicated than Zahra realizes. With her feelings all mixed up, Zahra realizes sometimes being a good Bengali kid can be a royal pain.

Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad – I’ve been following this one for a while. This book is about four sisters and their relationship with each other, as well as their father’s business, The Songbird Inn.

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li – I’ve seen this one all over social media, so I want to get to it soon. This book is about a group of Chinese Americans who’s goal is to return art stolen by colonizers to the rightful owners.

Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim – A new heartfelt novel about the power of loneliness and the strength of love that overcomes it by critically acclaimed author Roselle Lim.

Newly minted professional matchmaker Sophie Go has returned to Toronto, her hometown, after spending three years in Shanghai. Her job is made quite difficult, however, when she is revealed as a fraud—she never actually graduated from matchmaking school. In a competitive market like Toronto, no one wants to take a chance on an inexperienced and unaccredited matchmaker, and soon Sophie becomes an outcast.

In dire search of clients, Sophie stumbles upon a secret club within her condo complex: the Old Ducks, seven septuagenarian Chinese bachelors who never found love. Somehow, she convinces them to hire her, but her matchmaking skills are put to the test as she learns the depths of loneliness, heartbreak, and love by attempting to make the hardest matches of her life.

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len – I flew through this book in one day. I feel like I haven’t read many time travel themed novels in a while, and I greatly enjoyed Joan’s story. This book is unke any novel I’ve read this year.

The Red Palace by June Hur – I read an e-ARC of this one at the end of 2021, and so far, it’s my favorite of June Hur’s novels. Currently, it’s on my TBR to re-read. If you’re looking for a historical novel, I highly recommend June Hur’s – I love her historical notes at the end.

Life Update: 3/15/2022

This is a really short post, but here’s what I’ve been up to in the two months since I’ve last posted:

  1. I’ve read 20 books this year! So far, my favorites have been: The Ikessar Falcon, The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng, Deep in Providence, and Descendent of the Crane. My least favorites have been The Witcher (honestly, I think I need to put together a list of fantasy books I want to see adapted rather than ones that have a lot of popularity already. Although Anya Chalotra is amazing!),
  2. I’e officially been working for almost half a year. I work for a book publishing company focused on academic publishing, and it’s so interesting to see how books and other materials are put together.
  3. This month, I’m hoping to read All My Rage, Ashes of Gold, and One True Loves.

How are you? What else would you like to see from my blog?

Review: Modern Love Series by Alisha Rai

The Right Swipe, Girl Gone Viral, and First Comes Like by Alisha Rai.

Over the past year, I’ve really gotten into romance novels! My favorite romance novels are ones where in addition to a love story, there’s also side plots that are about the careers and interests outside, and sometimes including, each other. While the Modern Love Series by Alisha Rai is an engaging and cute series, I felt kind of disengaged because I wasn’t in the right mood.

Each book is told from dual perspectives. The first book, The Right Swipe, centers Rhiannon Hunter and Samson Lima. Rhiannon Hunter is the CEO of her feminist dating app company, Crush. Samson is man who Rhiannon shared one day with, but then, Samson disappears. When he comes back into her life, Rhiannon is unsure what to do when Samson comes back into her life, and the two end up having to work together. One of the elements I liked was that Rhiannon doesn’t apologize for what she wants and is willing to listen to other perspectives (namely, Samson’s). I also like how this book calls out the sexism that can come with dating apps.

The second book, Girl Gone Viral, tells the story of Katrina King (a partner of Crush) and Jas Singh. I love the bodyguard x love interest trope, and also how Katrina and Jas were both equal players in their relationship. Katrina is kind and loving. After an encounter with a handsome man, Katrina goes viral because of a fabricated, Twitter romance story. Jas invites her to his family’s farm until the media excitement is dampened. I love how Jas is always there for Katrina. Additionally, Katrina’s love of cooking is inspiring – she uses a starter that was passed down from her mother.

Katrina also has a panic disorder and goes to therapy. I like how Rai talks about mental health in this book, and how it’s ok to get help.

The final book, First Comes Like, focuses on Jia Ahmed and Dev Dixit. Jia is a leader of the online beauty community who thinks that she’s been corresponding with Dev Dixit, a famous soap opera actor. However, when they meet at a party, Dev doesn’t recognize Jia, much to Jia’s disappointment. Dev and Jia eventually end up fake dating because they’ve been spotted by the media. I love how Dev is open to hearing why Jia thought she was talking to him, rather than insulting her, and both characters are drawn to each other because they’re both involved in some form of visual media.

I wish the characters had spent more time with each other in the beginning (for example, I personally would’ve liked to see Dev perhaps talk to Jia in the hotel lobby), and I think I wanted to see Dev interact with Samson and Jas. These are just my personal thoughts.

While I wasn’t in the right mood for this romantic series, others may enjoy it more than I did. I was hoping for these books to break me out a reading slump, but I just wasn’t as attached to the plots as I would’ve liked. I honestly struggled with writing this review, but these novels are ones that captured my attention, as I finished them in one day. Rhiannon’s ambition, Katrina’s compassion, and Jia’s confidence make them enjoyable main characters to read about.

What’s a book that broke you out of a reading slump? Or have you ever taken a break from reading?