Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones // yes, you should still read the book even if you’ve seen the movie

Title: Howl’s Moving Castle

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Published: April 1986

Pages: 329

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Book Depository / Goodreads

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I finally read Howl’s Moving Castle. 

six months ago, but who’s keeping track?

This acclaimed novel was originally published in 1986, but I discovered it the way I think a good number of people did: through the 2004 animated film adaptation produced by Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Usually, I wouldn’t bother reading a book if I’ve seen its movie already, but I had always had an exception for Howl’s Moving Castle. The movie was just so magical and beautifully-crafted, and the soundtrack (the soundtrack!) was so good that I knew I had to see where it was born from. After finally reading the book, I can say that it was completely worth my time. 

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Book Review: You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy // listening as a response to loneliness

Title: You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters

Author: Kate Murphy

Published: January 7, 2020

Pages: 278

Genre: Nonfiction, Psychology, Self Help

Book Depository / Goodreads

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How often during conversations do you find yourself thinking that someone isn’t listening to you? How often do you find that you’re not listening?

In You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters, journalist Kate Murphy addressed the incessant rise of loneliness in the digital age and within cultures that tout personal success and identities over collectivism. Her recommendation (which shouldn’t be taken as a conclusive solution to the assuredly more complex issues of our times 😅) was to listen more.

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Book Review: Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay // my most anticipated read of 2020

Title: Patron Saints of Nothing

Author: Randy Ribay

Published: September 10, 2019

Pages: 432

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Amazon / Barnes & Nobles / Book Depository / Goodreads

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July 24, 2020 | Before you read this, please take a moment to read this important blog post by the author of the book, and learn about how you can take action against the new Terror Law in the Philippines.

Growing up, I was reluctantly proud of being half-filipino.

Even though I was also half-Indian, my mom was undoubtedly more successful than my dad at ensuring that my siblings and I were connected to her homeland and Filipino culture (sorry, dude ✌️). We used Filipino honorifics like “Ate” and “Kuya” in our household, regularly went to fiestas and novenas organized by family in the area, and visited the Philippines every two or three summers.

Continue reading “Book Review: Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay // my most anticipated read of 2020”

Mini Audiobook Reviews: Sadie by Courtney Summers and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson // a YA mysteries agni kai

Two YA mysteries in a fight for their honor, but only one can come out alive…

sorry, this really isn’t that serious 😅. anyways,

I found myself in the mood for some ~ mystery ~ last week and settled on listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. Instead of reviewing them in two separate posts, I thought I’d just do it in one ✨. Both books were popular YA mysteries, and while their plots and formats had similarities, other elements like their subject matters weren’t as comparable 💃:

(But… if we were really talking agni kai… which book, if any, do you personally prefer 😅?)
Continue reading “Mini Audiobook Reviews: Sadie by Courtney Summers and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson // a YA mysteries agni kai”

Book Review: Frankly In Love by David Yoon // a hilariously heart-warming story about fake-dating and cultural limbo

Title: Frankly In Love

Author: David Yoon

Published: September 10, 2019

Pages: 432

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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First generation Korean American high school senior Frank Li had never had a girlfriend.

A total nerd, he spent his sweet, suburban Californian days studying for advanced placement tests, playing dungeons and dragons with his equally geeky friends, and helping his dad at their grocery store on the weekends. When a girl finally revealed that she liked him, Frank Li frankly couldn’t be any happier—except for one thing: his traditional Korean parents would never approve of his relationship with someone who wasn’t Korean.

Rather than be open with his parents and make them see reason, Frank pretended to date his fellow Korean American family friend, Joy Song, while he hid his European American girlfriend, and Joy hid her Chinese American boyfriend from her parents. What ensued was not a cliche contemporary about fake dating, but a complicated story of love, family, and identity.

Continue reading “Book Review: Frankly In Love by David Yoon // a hilariously heart-warming story about fake-dating and cultural limbo”

Book Review: The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke // east berlin, untold stories, and magic balloons

Title: The Girl with the Red Balloon

Author: Katherine Locke

Published: September 1, 2017

Pages: 256

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

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Ellie grew up hearing the stories of the magical red balloon that saved her late grandfather from a German WWII concentration camp.

When she took a school trip all the way to Berlin from the USA, Ellie expected to practice her German while she finally explored Germany—a country her grandfather never forgave for all his heartache. Instead, her life turned on its axis after she noticed and latched onto a floating, red balloon reminiscent of the ones from her grandfather’s tales. In a blink of an eye, she was flung back and trapped in 1988 East Berlin where the past, present, and future were fantastically more entangled than anyone knew.

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Book Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed // powerful themes, but disappointing execution

Title: Internment

Author: Samira Ahmed

Published: March 19, 2019

Pages: 386

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary

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I have very mixed feelings about this book.

There’s no denying that the media and American politicians have capitalized on identity politics and racism falsely paraded as patriotism in order to socially isolate citizens into separate sides that need choosing. People are quick to write others off as another “liberal”, “conservative”, “immigrant”, “Trump supporter”, or whatever necessary label they can sneer at while they keep close company with a group that feeds their intransigence and confirmation bias.

More than ever, fostering honest and civil discussions between the divvied up parties should be a priority of any concerned American, no matter how frustrating or futile they seem. A glance back at just the last 100 years of history reveals that putting up fences between our ideas of “us” and “them” is ignorant, childish, and extremely dangerous.

Ahmed wrote Internment as a warning of horrific history potentially repeating itself, this time with Muslims as the scapegoats.

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Book Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel // mysterious ancient technology and world politics

Title: Sleeping Giants

Author: Sylvain Neuvel

Published: April 26, 2016

Pages: 320

Genre: Science Fiction

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Goodreads Description:  A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

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“I was smart enough to know it was wrong, but not brave enough to stop them.”

Sleeping Giants was the first book in Themis Files, a sci-fi series by Sylvain Neuvel. Through a chronicle of interviews and documents, the reader learned about the discovery of an ancient artifact and the tantalizing story that transpired.

I’ll leave the summary to one sentence because I believe this is one novel that is best to dive into blind.

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Audiobook Review: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond // a prequel to stranger things

Title: Suspicious Minds

Author: Gwenda Bond

Length: 9 hours

Genre: Science Fiction

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I had no idea this book existed until the day I listened to it.

I found Suspicious Minds by chance while I scrolled through available audiobooks on my Libby app. The cover captured my attention first with its unmistakable Stranger Things title design, and then I read the blurb.

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Book Review: Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert // a personal review about asian american identity, suicide, and racism

Title: Picture Us in the Light

Author: Kelly Loy Gilbert

Published: April 10, 2018

Pages: 361

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

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Goodreads Description: Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him. 

january-12

If someone ever asked me what it was like growing up as a first-generation Asian American in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would hand them this book.

At its surface, Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert was a story about high school senior, Danny Cheng, uncovering a family secret. But, peel it back, and the book had so many more layers.

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