She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – The Journey of A Character Who Isn’t Afraid to Take It All

Wow. I don’t think I’ve been as immersed in or as satisfied by a fantasy book as I was by She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. It’s so easy to get into Zhu’s head and to understand what Zhu is thinking – in fact, while I usually tend to focus on how fast the plot is, this time, the part of the book that made me feel engaged was Zhu. NOTE: There will be spoiler-y quotes after the review, so if you don’t want to accidentally see any spoilers JUST read the review. I will mark the quotes section in bold. Also, quotes ARE TAKEN FROM THE ARC – I will edit this when I read a finished copy. The fact that I received a copy from the publisher and Netgalley did not influence my review.

Zhu, who is genderqueer, takes the place of Zhu’s dead brother. Zhu takes no prisoners, and really sets out to conquer the destiny that was originally meant for Chongba. I love seeing main characters who aren’t afraid to take what they desire/their destiny, and Parker-Chan really made me feel like I was able to see all of Zhu’s actions.

Obviously, the world building is fantastic – I love the fantasy elements as well as the fact that most of the violence takes place off page. I felt like SWBTS focused more on the political intrigue, which I always enjoy. Additionally, Zhu’s development from child to adult felt very well paced – I never felt like I was being rushed in the story to get to the next moment.

I do have to admit that I think some of the plot went over my head just because it’s summer, so my mind is pretty much devoted to my summer program right now, so I will definitely have to re-read SWBTS and will edit this review again at some point. Just know that as someone who’s just starting to get into adult fantasy (I think I’ve only read three: The Stars are Legion, The Poppy War trilogy, and The Wolf of Oren-Yaro), this book continues my streak of books that I could read over and over again. Overall, She Who Became the Sun is a beautiful and powerful story that I fell in love with, and I hope you all read it!

SPOILERS: Favorite quotes section

You may have ended this, but you haven’t ended me, she thought fiercely at him, and felt the truth of it shining inside her so brightly that it seemed capable of igniting anything it touched. Nobody will ever end me. I’ll be so great that no one will be able to touch me, or come near me, for fear of becoming nothing.

The eunuch showed no sign of having felt any of her thoughts. He turned his back on the monks and passed through the doors, the ceaseless flow of his incoming soldiers parting around him like a stream around a rock.

He said to them, “Burn it to the ground.”

““I suppose you’ll have little enough chance, whatever I do,” Chen mused. “But I find myself moved to improve your odds. I’ve instructed Commander Wu to give you five hundred men before your departure. How many will you have then, seven hundred or so?” His laugh was like a slab of meat hitting the butcher’s block. “Seven hundred men against a city! I wouldn’t try it myself. But let me do what I can for you afterward: if you do manage to win Lu, I’ll convince the Prime Minister to let you keep whatever you’ve taken from it. Then you’ll have enough funds for your new temple.” His black eyes glittered. “Or for whatever else you’d like to do.””

“All that means is we have to make this life count.” He stared at her. She saw the moment the relief kindled in him, of having found her again to follow. The shadows on his face were already breaking apart. Through the cracks she saw the boy in him again. He said, wonderingly, “Who did you become, when we were apart?” She smiled. “The person I was always supposed to be.”

“Zhu felt a stab of uncharacteristic pity. Not-wanting is a desire too; it yields suffering just as much as wanting.”

“After a long pause Ma said, low, “I cherish you.” Zhu smiled at her. “I don’t even know who I am. General Ouyang killed Zhu Chongba, but I’m not the person I was born as, either. How can you know who you’re cherishing?” Rain drummed on the thatched roof. The mushroom smell of wet straw pressed around them with the intimacy of another’s warm body under the blankets. “I might not know your name,” Ma said, taking Zhu’s hand. “But I know who you are.”

“You never realized that it wasn’t your name they were going to call, exhorting you to reign for ten thousand years.” As the Prime Minister fell facedown in the dirt, she said, “It was mine.”

“She didn’t just want greatness. She wanted the world. The breath she took felt like joy. Smiling with the thrill of it, she said, “I’m going to be the Emperor.”

“Behold me as Zhu Yuanzhang , the Radiant King.”

Have you read She Who Became the Sun?

Review: Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

No matter what, I think fantasy will always be my favorite genre. One book that I anticipated for a while, even before the cover was revealed, was Sisters of the Snake, an Indian inspired fantasy where the main characters switch places. I was very grateful to be on the street team for SOTS and was on #TeamRani (Rani is the princess). Sisters of the Snake is written by Sarena and Sasha Nanua, and the tagline is: “A lost princess. A desperate switch. A destiny that will shake the world.” Here is my review for SOTS:

DISCLAIMER: I was not influenced by being on the street team and by winning a copy of the book.

Right from the start, I instantly knew I would enjoy both Ria and Rani’s points of views. Both girls are trapped, but in different ways: Ria is forced to be a soldier and Rani is forced to follow her mother and father’s every command. When both are together, it’s great to see their dynamic – it feels very natural.

I liked Rani a bit more because rich princess and palaces!!!! I love that. I also thought the world building was esay to understand/fall into – the writing style of Sarena and Sasha is a good balance of descriptive, emotional, and action. Fantasy books can sometimes be hard to get into/the world building is thrown at you all at once, but this is not the case at all with SOTS.

As for the pacing, it was pretty much perfect. I never felt bored or like I was out of the loop. In the sequel, I would like to see more about the magic of the world and the history. Also, Sarena and Sasha should advocate for a map in the next book. I would recommend this for those who want a fantasy book inspired by a non-Western place, twins who don’t know they are twins, and surprising romances.

Favorite Quote

“For eighteen years, I’ve walked these halls. Cool marble floors, paisley-patterned carpets, and a frosted-glss exterior. Ornate jalis, latticed screens that filter out the hot Abai air.” – Rani, pg 19

Overall, I’m excited for the sequel and recommend this book!

Have you read Sisters of the Snake?

Life Update – 7/10/21

Interestingly, July is going well for me!!! Here’s what’s been going on in my life, including what I’ve read, a peak into my reading journal, and my thoughts as I come up on my third year bookstagram anniversary in December.

Life

I’m a part of a university’s free collegiate scholars program that I’ve been a part of since the summer before my sophomore year and I LOVE my classes this year!! I have four classes and they are all helping me. Two of them are college focused, and one is about the U.S. Census, Identity, and Politics and the other one is about The Politics of Superhero Movies. I don’t know what I’ll write my personal statement about, but I have a few ideas.

I also feel a lot less stressed this summer – I’m hoping to meet up with some of my friends this month and next month, I’m going on a family trip (we are all fully vaccinated) to see colleges in the Western U.S.

Books

I’ve read about 8 books this month.

As for bookstagram, I’m trying not to be on IG as much and I think it’s super beneficial for my mental health. Last July, I posted nearly EVERYDAY. That does not work for me. I’ve also learned not to care as much about what others think (I hope) and I’ve made some really great friends.

I got to go to the library again today (very fortunate to have a great library system in my city) and checked out some books I’m anticipating:

  1. Blood Like Magic by LIselle Sambury – I’ve followed her for a while and can’t wait to read this!!! It is a very long book and I love long fantasy novels. Also, the cover!!! Voya looks amazing.
  2. Renegade Flight by Andrea Tang – I think this is a companion novel to Rebelwing and I remember liking Tang’s writing style and world a lot.
  3. A Universe of Wishes edited by Dhonielle Clayton – love anthologies!!! The cover is so cool and there are many details. I’m most excited for Dhonielle’s, Nic Stone’s, and Anna-Marie McLemore’s stories.

Below is an image of my book tracker in my reading journal:

Missing some information but I’ve read 7 books this month – need to read 9 more books to get to 100.

Bookstagram Anniversary – Less than six months away!

Love this photo my parent took of me!!

I think I’ll have to save up money to do a fun book haul MAYBE. I’m going to college next year, so I’ll probably limit myself to 3-5 books. I already have the Fairyloot edition of Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong preordered, so that might be my gift to myself, lol!

I don’t know where I would be without bookstagram. When I didn’t have many friends irl, bookstagram was there for me. I’m happy to say I follow a few people’s private IG’s and I hope to meet them irl someday.

What should I do for my third year bookstagram anniversary?

June Wrap Up

The past two months, I’ve managed to read over 15 books, compared to only reading four in February! I did finish school this month, so I had a lot more time. 22/30 books were YA contemporaries, which usually take me a day to read, and then fantasy novels (adult and YA) usually take me one to eight days to read. I have not read 30 books in a month in a while, and I don’t know if I want to do it again because I like taking my time while reading. However, the last time I read over 30 books in a month was in August 2019, when I was attempting to read 300 books in that year. In 2020, the most books I read in a month was in July – I read 22 books that month.

Favorite Quotes

This section will include spoilers for: An Ember in the Ashes AND A Torch Against the Night.

“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes.That is your destiny.” – Cain, pg 400-401 of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

“Killer! Death himself! Reaper walking! If your sins were blood, child, you would drown in a river of your own making.” – pg 8, A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Books read

Favorites are highlighted in bold, authors who are new to me are italisized.

  1. Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart – started in May
  2. Up All Night edited by Laura Silverman – started in May
  3. These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy – started in May
  4. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas – started in May
  5. The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell – started in May
  6. Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park (ARC from Netgalley) – started in May
  7. Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft
  8. Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
  9. Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
  10. Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi
  11. A Phở Love Story by Loan Le
  12. The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim
  13. Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier
  14. The Silence of Bones by June Hur
  15. Me (Moth) by Amber McBride
  16. Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon
  17. Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa
  18. The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris
  19. That Way Madness Lies edited by Dahlia Adler
  20. Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass
  21. Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua
  22. Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
  23. Fight Like A Girl by Sheena Kamal (from Netgalley)
  24. Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis
  25. Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura
  26. Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud
  27. The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson
  28. Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi
  29. Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson
  30. Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova

As you can see, I had ten favorites. Illusionary is the sequel to Incendiary, and now Zoraida is officially one of my favorite fantasy YA authors. To my list of favorites, I would like to add The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri and She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan and Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao; however, I haven’t finished these books yet (I also need to write reviews for them since I received all from Netgalley as ARCs).

Instagram Posts

I posted nine times in June, compared to three times in May, five times in April, twice in March, once in February, and seven times in January.

Other Life News

I’m going to the West Coast of the “US” to look @ colleges in August, so that’s fun!! I have to work on my Posse app as well and my Collegiate Scholars Program is starting next Tuesday – my last summer with them! I’m also hoping to receive my copy of The Chariot at Dusk by Swati Teerdhala. I went to an online event with her and Roseanne A. Brown yesterday and would love to see them in person someday!!

In July, I’m hoping to finish IW, SWBTS, TJT, Skyhunter by Marie Lu, Everything That Burns by Gita Trelease, Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood, and Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.

How was your June?

LGBT+ Books to Read All Year

It’s pride month!! However, this is not the only time to read books by and with LGBT+ people. I’m hoping to also write a list of 10 upcoming books by and with LGBT+ people.

The Never Tilting World duology by Rin Chupeco – This book includes a f/f couple with two wlw main POV characters, Lan and Odessa. I highly recommend this book!!

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas – I already know I’m going to love this. Yadriel is trans and accidentally summons the wrong ghost, Julian Diaz, and the two boys have to work together to find out the circumstances of Julian’s death.

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson – a f/f YA novel about prom! Liz Lighty is a queer Black teen who enters the contest for prom royalty when the financial aid she needs for college falls through.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus – the mc, Audre, is queer, and is forced to go to Minneapolis when her mom finds out about her secret girlfriend. There, she meets Mabel. I loved Mabel and Audre’s storyline, and this is one of my favorites I read in 2020.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender – Felix Love is a demiboy and this is his love story. I remember loving this as well – another one of my favorites of 2020.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – Wren and Lei are both wlw. This book got me back into YA fantasy because at the time, most of the fantasy novels I read were by white people and were not good. GOPAF is an amazing trilogy and a must read. The last book is coming out this year.

Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa – One of my favorite YA romances in a while. I heard Jonny Garza Villa speak with Julian Winters and greatly enjoyed hearing from them. Jules is gay.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow – a futuristic sci-fi novel about Ilori taking over earth, with Ellie Baker, who is demi ace, teams up with one Ilori. Alechia Dow has another book releasing next year.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – includes genderqueer protagonists. I have not finished my e-arc yet, but I want to by the end of this month. Zhu is awesome and I love Parker-Chan’s writing style.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger – the mc, Elatsoe, is Lipan Apache and asexual. I loved the writing style as well as the structure of the story – stories included throughout the overarching story of Elatsoe.

Again, read books by and including the LBGT+ community all year round. I hope you’ve found a new book to read. I cannot speak on the representation in these books, so please seek out reviews by people who are a part of the community. Do let me know if I got anything wrong about these books – I did check out other’s reviews as well as the author’s comments to verify the characters.

What books by authors who are a part of the LGBT+ community do you recommend?

Most Anticipated Books: August 2021

Welcome to the finale of my three part series of my most anticipated books of August 2021! I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what books I’m excited for.

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

I’ve technically already read this book but I’m definitely going to be purchasing a physical copy (go Sinclair Students!!). There is a preorder campaign going on right now where you can get character cards (which I love). This academia novel has an all Asian cast and is about mental health and being in a competitive high school environment, and also talks about how rich people are often able to get away with a lot.

Brown Boy Nowhere by Sheeryl Lim

This book has a Filipino American main character! Angelo Rivera has to move and is the only Asian person in his all white school. Angelo has to work at “his parents’ new diner.” I am always looking for Filipino American rep, and I have high hopes for this book.

The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

I LOVED The Candle and the Flame, so I’m excited to see another book by Azad. The Wild Ones is described as a “thrilling, feminist fantasy about a group of teenage girls endowed with special powers who must band together to save the life of the boy whose magic saved them all.” I love this cover and all of the flowers surrounding the characters.

Like A Love Song by Gabriela Martins

I’ve had this book on my radar for a while now, and I really like Martins’ Twitter. Like A Love Song is about a Latina pop star who has to fake date a soft hearted British boy to help her career. I love the fake dating trope and am excited to see what Martins does with it.

Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko

I recently read Raybearer by Ifueko and I can say that no fantasy YA book has taken my breath away in a way that Raybearer has, ever. At the end of Raybearer, Tarisai claimed the role as an Empress Redemptor. She now needs her own council, but faces assasination attempts in the finale to the Raybearer duology. There’s going to be a “handsome new stranger” in this book, so I’m so ready to see where Tarisai goes next.

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

I loved Darcie Little Badger’s Elatsoe, and I’m excited to see more books by Badger. The main character is Nina, who is “a Lipan girl in our world.” According to the synopsis, Badger “draws on traditional Lipan Apache storytelling structure to weave another unforgettable tale of monsters, magic, and family.” I love the cover as well.

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

Katrell is Black and is able to talk to the dead. She accidentally raises someone from the dead. This is Lewis’ debut, and I’m very excited to see what happens in this novel, where Katrell is revealed to what may be “an even darker future.”

What books are you excited for coming out this August? What did you think of this three-part series?

Most Anticipated Books: July 2021

Hello! Here is the second part of my three part series of my most anticipated books of summer 2021.

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

I loved You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson last year and I’m excited to see that she is writing another book. This book is about “the power of music to heal and connect us all.” Rise to the Sun comes out July 6th.

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

I think this book takes place in the same universe as Spin the Dawn, which I absolutely LOVED. Shiori has forbidden magic and is the princess of Kiata. Her magic is revealed and her stepmother, Raikama, is interested. However, Raikama curses Shiori’s brothers and tells Shiori she cannot speak or else one of her brothers will die. Shiori has to work with the very boy to prevent a conspiracy that wants to take the throne of Kiata. This premise sounds so cool!

Wings of Shadow by Nicki Pau Preto

This is the final book in the Crown of Feathers series! Preto is really skilled at creating an immersive fantasy world, and the plotline is unlike any fantasy novel I’ve read. I’m definitely going to re-read the first two books before Wings of Shadow.

XOXO by Axie Oh

I’m excited to see that Oh is writing a contemporary novel. This is one of my favorite covers of 2021 because I love how colorful and happy it is. Jenny is a cello prodigy, and she meets Jaewoo, who she doesn’t know is a part of one of the biggest K-pop bands. Jaewoo is not allowed to date. XOXO takes place in South Korea, and I’m excited to read a book that doesn’t take place in the U.S.

Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

Afterlove is a lesbian love story. Ash is about to become a reaper but then dies, but then gets an invitation to become a part of a group with other girl reapers. She accepts because she wants to see her girlfriend, Poppy, again – dead or alive. I love this premise and really have never heard anything like it. Afterlove comes out July 22.

What books are you excited for that come out this July?

Most Anticipated Books: June 2021

Hello everyone! I’m so excited to have more time to blog now. There’s so many amazing books coming out this summer (or this June through August), so I hope you will find something to read from this list. This will be a series of three blog posts because there are A LOT of books you should have on your radar.

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park

I received an ARC from Netgalley, and I’m really enjoying it so far! Suzanne Park is a Korean American author who also wrote The Perfect Escape, which was very enjoyable. As an Asian American teen, it’s nice to see that Asian teens who are all different and are allowed to be messy and make mistakes.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

AHH I’ve been waiting for this book for SO LONG. As an Asian American adoptee, I don’t see a lot of rep of adoptees at all, and there’s not many Asian American adoptees that I’ve seen. This is a magical, coming of age story about Jordan, who is Vietnamese and queer. I love Jordans outfit and the magical-ness of the cover with the leaves around her.

A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

I LOVED A Song Below Water last year; it was one of my favorites of 2020. I also read Take the Mic which Morrow was included in, and Morrow is definitely one of my favorite authors. Naema looks amazing (I love all of the pink throughout the cover), and I can’t wait to see her in this book!

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

I love Sugiura’s book This Time Will Be Different, so I am very happy to see that she has another book coming out very soon! Nozomi Nagai, who is Japanese American and lesbian, is asked by Willow to fake date, however, she wants to show Willow that she would like to real date. I love the characters on the cover and their outfits. From the reviews I’ve seen, there is also a Filipino American side character, which makes me very happy!

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

I have an e-ARC of this that I NEED TO READ!! Ahhh all of my online bookish friends have said they enjoyed this book, so I’m hoping to get to it this weekend so I can have a review written by or the week of release day. I love the cover and the flower in the “O.” This is a trilogy and includes a romance between “a captive princess (Malini) and a maidservant (Priya) in possession of forbidden magic,” and Malini and Priya have to save their empire from Malini’s traitor brother.

Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon

I really think the Rosetta’s Academy series is my favorite of Sandhya Menon’s. Her books are great when you need something that will make you feel better because they’re so cute, fluffy, and low stakes. The covers changed for the series, but I really enjoy them and the old covers as well. This book focuses on Caterina and Rahul.

Broken Web by Lori M. Lee

Forest of Souls was an entrancing start to a new fantasy trilogy in 2020 (I love the character cards and the bookmark!!) so I can’t wait to see where Sirscha and Saengo’s story goes next.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

I’ve been following Liselle Sambury since before the cover for Blood Like Magic was revealed, and it’s almost here!! I think this duology. Voya, who is Black, is a witch who has to complete her Calling, which she has to pass to reach her powers. Voya has to kill her first love, so I’m excited to see how this goes for her!!

Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

I’m on the Snake Squad for this book, and I’m really enjoying seeing everyone’s posts! I am on Team Rani, and Rani is a princess wanting to get out of her palace. One of the comp titles for this book has been The Tiger At Midnight, so I’m sure I will enjoy this novel. I won a copy from a giveaway Sasha and Sarena hosted, so I’m aiming to read it and review it by or the week of release day.

Rising Like A Storm by Tanaz Bhathena

Bhathena is amazing; she’s written contemporary novels and now this fabulous fantasy duology. I won an ARC of Hunted by the Sky along with a handwritten quote from Bhathena, and absolutely LOVED it. I highly recommend this duology. Also, notice Gul’s side profile!! I feel so much less self conscious about the hairs on the side of my face because I see them on Gul’s face, which is really great. If anyone wants to buddy read HBTS with me before this comes out, feel free to contact me @solaceinreading_ on Instagram.

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

This novel is about “Black teen love.” All of these authors have books that I’ve rated five stars, so I cannot wait to see what they do together in these interconnected stories about a blackout in New York City. Also, I think that’s the Brooklyn Bridge in the background of the cover, which is super cool.

The Chariot at Dusk by Swati Teerdhala

Swati Teerdhala is one of my favorite authors of all time and her first trilogy is coming to an end! Esha and Kunal have taken me on an amazing journey since 2019 when I first bought TTAM when it came out. I was also a part of the TigerWraith Warriors street team (which included Roseanne A. Brown’s A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, which I also highly recommend), and received character cards because of my participation in the street team. If you’re looking for enemies to lovers, gorgeous worldbuilding, and morally grey heroines, this is the series for you!

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Sci-fi is becoming one of my favorite genres and I’m so excited to see that Gearbreakers focuses on an Asian main character and her love interest, who is also Asian. This is Zoe’s debut novel, so I am planning on purchasing it and I hope you will too. Eris Shindanai takes down Windups and Sona Steelcrest is a Windup pilot, so it’ll be cool to see where their f/f enemies to lovers relationship goes. Also, I LOVE THIS COVER!!! It’s so pretty and emphasizes the power that Eris and Sona have.

What books are you excited for coming out this June?

Where Have I Been: Life Update

Some of my most anticipated books of 2021.

Hello everyone! I am happy to be back (although at the time I’m writing this, I still have two major tests and then I’m done!!). Here’s what I’ve been doing and reading.

Life

I took my AP Lit exam during the second week of May and presented my AP Research project! My project was on Asian American history curriculum in U.S. history classes. If anyone’s interested in seeing my presentation or paper, I’d be happy to share it with you. I’m pretty proud of it considering the fact that I did it all during online school.

I’m also happy because I have a research assistantship this summer! I had one last year as well and I’m excited to put in the work to learn more about what it’s like to have a job. However, I am nervous about starting my college search because I haven’t done that much work yet and only have a vague idea of what type of university I’d like to go to (liberal arts based in a city, near a bookstore, with research opportunities and a well-connected network of alumni so I can get a job after).

I also haven’t seen the majority of my friends in person in over a year, so I really hope I’ll be able to see them in person this summer (still socially distanced). I’m curious to know: would any of you ever want to meet me in person? I’ve always wanted to go to a book convention.

School

It’s actually going well? Being my junior year, it was challenging, but I feel a lot better about taking time for my mental health now than I did before. My teachers did an excellent job of checking in with us and giving us time off. I got to take two dual enrollment math classes. They were pretty fun! I think I like statistics because it’s a lot different from the math I’ve learned in schools; it’s easy to make connections to the real world.

Books

I’m going to be a part of the ChiTeen Lit Fest, a free festival for teens hosted by my city’s library network!! I’m interviewing Kara Jackson, who is the 2018 Youth Poet Laureate of Chicago and the 2019 National Youth Poet Laureate, along with a partner and I’m super grateful for this opportunity. It takes place from May 16 to May 22, and the interview is at 5:15 p.m. CST on Tuesday, May 18.

Link: ChiTeen Lit Fest

I hope any teens reading this will join! I’ve also been reading a lot more lately because I have time. I’ve only bought one book this year, and it’s shifted my mindset around how many books I buy. Not only has the library been a great resource, but also, I’ve been able to devote more time to really enjoying books that I like by reading them slowly. The book I bought is Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart, and I’ve read many positive reviews about it.

I’m also a part of two street teams: the Snake Squad for Sasha and Sarena Nanua’s Sisters of the Snake, coming out on June 15 of this year, and the Sinclair Students for Katie Zhao’s debut young adult novel How We Fall Apart (thanks to Bloomsbury and Katie Zhao for the advanced reader copy). I have some exciting posts that I’m thinking about and hope you all will support these authors.

HOW WE FALL APART  can now be preordered from any major book retailers, including Bookshop, Bloomsbury, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Blackwells, etc.   Bookshop :  https://bit.ly/3lNXWK8     Bloomsbury :  https://bit.ly/3nLgewn    Blackwells : https://bit.ly/32R2K9I   Amazon :  https://amzn.to/2Px9C5L
The How We Fall Apart Preorder Campaign!! Love these character cards.

Finally, my favorite books I’ve read this year out of 35 are Raybearer, Cinderella is Dead, The Ones We’re Meant to Find, Elatsoe, The Infinity Courts, Reaper of Souls, City of the Plague God, The Gilded Ones, Instructions for Dancing, We Free the Stars, The Meet Cute Project, and American Betiya. Some 2021 books I read last year that I recommend are Happily Ever Afters and Wings of Ebony. Reviews of Raybearer, How We Fall Apart, and The Ones We’re Meant to Find, along with more, should be coming this summer, as early as two weeks from now! I’m also planning to write a post for API Heritage Month and a specific post with Filipino authors, because I am Filipino! Thank you for reading!

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

What do I want this blog to be?

One particular post I am super proud of – the first book I ever got sent to me because of publisher because of Shealea @shutupshealea’s Asian Bloggers Directory. Go follow her!!!

Recently, I’ve realized that there is a cycle that I go through on bookstagram that I think started in March 2020: first, I’ll feel really good about what I’m posting. I’ll feel so inspired. Then, the second part of the cycle is me looking at other people’s posts and comparing myself to them. Finally, I’ll start to worry that what I post is not good enough, and that I’m not being aware enough. This causes me to either 1. want to delete my account, or 2. delete Instagram off my phone. Then, the cycle starts again. How do I break the cycle? Here’s how I think I can:

First of all, the past two days, I’ve deleted Instagram off my phone when I start to do homework until my school day ends. This is really helpful because I’m becoming less attached to my phone in the morning. My eyes feel better and there’s more separation between my life outside my phone.

Second of all, I am someone who tends to overanalyze a lot and therefore, this causes me to think people don’t like me. I know this is a very convoluted way of reasoning. For example, if someone responds to a text with a period in their sentence, I’ve worried that they don’t want to talk to me.

Finally, I realized recently that I just wasn’t liking what I was posting, including what I was posting here on the blog. I didn’t like how I was just trying to maintain a certain aesthetic instead of contributing to educating others, and I repeated some of the same questions that I tried to use to talk to my followers. I think some of these feelings might be from me growing up in a competitive schooling environment where I was always second best from sixth to ninth grade. I get jealous of those who are so amazing at writing reviews, but I must realize that it takes time. I also need to accept that it’s ok to feel sad if I do put a lot of work into something and I get no response. I need to let go of relationships that are one-sided. Furthermore, I actually stopped talking about problematic books a while ago, but now, I feel like I should because white authors are still getting away with a lot. I don’t remember the author’s name, but she was harrassing someone who gave her book 4.5 stars on Goodreads.

GOALS

  1. Use my platform effectively.
  2. Create work that I’m proud of.
  3. I’ve seen this phrase many times and I did not come up with it: post with intention.
  4. Recognize that I don’t need to post everyday because my main “job” right now is to finish the school year and to continue researching colleges.
  5. Honestly, this goes for ALL parts of my life: recognize that stress is ok.

Overall, I think I do have to accept that analogy that “there will always be a car ahead of of me on the highway.” I feel like, as a high schooler, I’ve gotten caught up in the mindset that I need to have everything in my life figured out in addition to maintaining a certain image, but that’s not what I want this blog and bookstagram to be about. I wouldn’t want to monetize this hobby right now because my main concern is school, although it would be very cool to get paid to promote the books I love. I still get jealous of those bloggers who’ve been around for the past 5-6 years who have really pretty aesthetics and the perfect layout and sound so smart, while I’m over here with incoherant messes of reviews, which makes me think I’m not working hard enough to be taken seriously or for people to want to be friends with me, but I must recognize that comparing myself to others won’t help me make progress in where I want to be.

Thank you for reading! How are you?