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.
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.
Two YA mysteries in a fight for their honor, but only one can come out alive…
I found myself in the mood for some ~ mystery ~ last week and settled on listening toSadie by Courtney Summersand 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 😅?)
First generation Korean American high school senior Frank Li hadnever 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.
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 fantasticallymore entangled than anyone knew.
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.
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.
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.
Ash Princess is the first book in its title series following Princess Theodosia.
Ten years before the start of the story, Theodosia’s mother, The Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes by the Kaiser—and her kingdom fell to the tyrant. For a decade, while her people were slaughtered and enslaved, Theodosia lived as a prisoner in her own palace, beaten and looked down upon by the Kaiser and his court. But after a traumatizing event, Theodosia’s heart is set aflame with vengeance for her mother and kingdom.
Goodreads Description: The company says Otherworld is amazing — like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive — that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.
Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.
And it’s about to change humanity forever.
Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.
Two words that will guarantee me to pick up any book? Virtual reality.
The first book in the Last Reality series, Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller was a dark, speculative rework of virtual reality fan favorites such as Ready Player One and Heir Apparent. It was the story of Simon, a troublesome, boarding-school boy, and his journey to rescue his best friend, Kat, through the relentless, digital landscape of the video game, Otherworld. I’ll spare you the details because this was one book that hinged on its numerous mysteries and tiny unveilings to keep the reader engrossed.