Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Rating: 3/5 stars Little Fires Everywhere

Length: 338 pages

Series: N/A

Genres: Contemporary, Fiction

Publication date: September 12, 2017

 

“… She knew she couldn’t handle things.” Mia scribbled a hasty note in the corner of her drawing. “The question is whether things are still the same. Whether she should get another chance.”

“And do you think she should?”

Mia did not answer for a moment. Then she said, “Most of the time, everyone deserves more than one chance. We all do things we regret now and then, you just have to carry them with you.”

(Ch. 15)

Elena Richardson embodies the rule following nature of Shaker Heights, a progressive suburb of Cleveland. When Mia Warren – enigmatic artist and single mother to a teenage girl – rents a house from the Richardsons, all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo. When an old family friend attempts to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that drastically devised the town and leaves Elena and Mia on opposite sides of the divide.

 


 

Asian Readathon Challenges Met:

1. Read a book written by an Asian author: Ng is of Chinese decent.

4. Read a book recommended by an Asian: as this was the group book of the Readathon, it was suggested by Cindy in her 2020 Asian Readathon announcement video. 

5. *OPTIONAL* Read “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng and participate in the 7#LittleFiresReadalong and #LittleFiresWatchalong (more information below)

 


 

First and foremost, I learned that this book was not for me. I can understand its merit, but it is not the kind of book that I find myself falling into. It might be because Contemporary books aren’t my usual go to that I had a harder time connecting with this story, but I find myself pulling away from this idea as I’ve read Contemporary books that I’ve fallen in love with.

The characters felt real enough and the problems they faced were serious, yet I still didn’t find myself falling in love with the world or the story. I could empathize with the events going on but I never felt pulled into the drama or a real tug on my heart strings.

That being said, I can completely understand why some people might love this story. While I easily fall head first into lands of magic and dragons, others find comfort in things more realistic. Closer to what they expect from real life. This story held notes of realism and dealt with issues that still exist today, roughly 20-30 years after the time this book was written in.

I find it hard to explain why I felt so detached from this story without going into spoilers, so I’ll leave the spoiler free section here. If you want to read my in depth feelings about the story, continue on to the spoiler section below.

 


Continue reading “Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng”

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Rating: 4.5/5 stars Shadow Frost

Length: 400 pages

Series: Shadow Frost, Book 1

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publication date: October 1, 2019

 

Eternity. It was as endless and grey as the bleak sky above, broken only by the craggy teeth of the mountain peaks. Gusts of snow lashed at barren rock, the bitter wind howling with the fury of a thousand souls forever damned.

(Prologue)

Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she might very well hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom. And she’s vowed not to rest until the beast has been slain.

Together with her friends – and powers she doesn’t yet fully understand – Asterin sets out on her mission. Her only task? To kill the demon. Yet as they hunt, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself. Uncovering lie after lie, Asterin and her friends struggle to figure out how much of their lives have been lies. With no one else to turn to, they must decide who they’re willing to sacrifice in order to protect the only world they’ve ever known.

That is, of course, as long as the demon doesn’t get them first.

 


 

Asian Readathon Challenges Met:

1. Read a book written by an Asian author: Ma is of Chinese decent.

2. Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who you can relate to: Asterin is female (and that’s pretty much the only similarities we have). Ma is a Canadian, and so am I (again, pretty much the only similarity between us). 

3. Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who is different from you: Ma is an accomplished pianist, and while I’ve always wanted to take lessons I have no idea how to play the piano. 

 


 

This is a fast paced novel, filled with tricks and turns. One of the ways that this is so well done is through the short chapters and the multiple perspectives. I know my best friend has a problem with chapters that seem to run on forever so it was refreshing to see that this book didn’t have that going on. Especially since it means she might very well enjoy this story as much as I have.

It’s hard to get multiple perspectives done right, and Co ended up doing just that. The switch between characters is done wonderfully, making it easy for the reader to understand exactly when the perspective has changed as well as I applaud her for it as writing such a fantastic debut novel is hard to accomplish.

Asterin and her friends risk everything in this tale trying to find and destroy the demon that’s wreaking havoc. Knowing that they might not return with their lives, their determination brings them to the heart of the demon’s hunting grounds. Little do they know the truths that they’re going to unveil along the way.

Things aren’t always as they seem in this world and it’s Asterin’s job to uncover the truth – even if she doesn’t know it. Her friends are willing to risk their lives in order to protect Asterin and find the truth, to protect not only their kingdom but the entire world from the darkness that’s started to befall them. The biggest question is if Asterin will be able to save her friends.

If you’re looking for a fast paced YA Fantasy read, I recommend giving this read a try. Not only is it a fantastic debut novel, I truly believe it’s a great novel all around. It was engaging and fun, harrowing and heart wrenching. I look forward to reading more of Ma’s works as they’re released. (God Storm‘s expected publication date is October 20, 2020 – amazon link).

 


Continue reading “Shadow Frost by Coco Ma”

2020 Asian Readathon Wrap Up

I am once again thrilled to have participated in the Asian Readathon. Just like last year I was able to discover new books and authors that weren’t on my radar beforehand. It has also encouraged me to try and participate in other Readathons throughout the year to see what novels I can find I might not have discovered or picked up on my own.

My eyes have once again been opened to the vast amount of literature I have yet to get to and has thankfully broken me out of the reading slump I’ve found myself in the last couple of months. I read some fantastic books during this Readathon – even though I didn’t get to as many books as I did last year – and look forward to picking up more books by Asian authors in the future.

Without further ado, here’s my reading stats for this month:

 


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Subaru by Masahito Soda, Vol. 3 – 6

Five year old Subaru no longer has time for friends or play. Kazuma is dying and slowly forgetting everything, even his twin. Subaru visits him every day, talking and dancing all to try to make him remember her. And he always does by the end of the day. Encouraged by a friend to try a ballet class, Subaru does and falls in love with the dance.

 


 

Asian Readathon Challenges Met:

1. Read a book written by an Asian author: Soda is Japanese.

2. Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who you can relate to: Subaru is a ballet dancer and I took 16 years of dance classes (including ballet). She’s also clear in her distaste to compete while it took me a while to start enjoying dance competitions.

3. Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who is different from you: Subaru had a twin that ended up dying due to a brain tumor whereas I have never had a twin and my older sister remains in good health.

 


Continue reading “Subaru by Masahito Soda, Vol. 3 – 6”

Subaru by Masahito Soda, Vol. 1 & 2

Five year old Subaru no longer has time for friends or play. Kazuma is dying and slowly forgetting everything, even his twin. Subaru visits him every day, talking and dancing all to try to make him remember her. And he always does by the end of the day. Encouraged by a friend to try a ballet class, Subaru does and falls in love with the dance.

 


Asian Readathon Challenges Met:

1. Read a book written by an Asian author: Soda is Japanese.

2. Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who you can relate to: Subaru is a ballet dancer and I took 16 years of dance classes (including ballet). She’s also clear in her distaste to compete while it took me a while to start enjoying dance competitions.

3. Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who is different from you: Subaru had a twin that ended up dying due to a brain tumor whereas I have never had a twin and my older sister remains in good health. 


Continue reading “Subaru by Masahito Soda, Vol. 1 & 2”

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Rating: 5/5 stars Sea Prayer.jpg

Length: 48 pages

Series: N/A

Genres: Poetry, Fiction, Short Stories, Historical Fiction, War, Refugee

Publication date: September 18, 2018

 


 

Reading Challenges Met:

1. Read a book written by an Asian author: Hosseini is Afghan.

3. Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who is different from you: I have never been a refugee, nor do I have children.

 


Continue reading “Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini”

2020 Asian Readathon TBR

Having enjoyed this Readathon so immensely last year (my 2019 TBR and Wrap Up), I look forward to participating again this year. If you haven’t heard of the Asian Readathon before, it’s a month long Readathon in May created by Cindy (from ReadWithCindy) all about reading, enjoying, discovering, and appreciating Asian authors.

For more information about the Readathon, I suggest checking out their Twitter “@asianreadathon” as it is already been quite active for the Readathon. This is also an easy way to find the Master List of Book Suggestions and Reading Goals/Prompts for the Readathon.

**For anyone who’s discovered my TBR system for the first time, I’ve organized the books on my TBR by Physical BooksAudioBooks, and eBooks. Oh, and Library books, too. **

While I expect to deviate from this selection of books slightly, and to add to it as the month progresses, here is my (current) TBR for the Readathon:

 


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Asian Readathon Wrap Up

I enjoyed this Readathon and if it is hosted again next year I plan on participating again. I discovered some great reads and authors that hadn’t been on my radar before. If they write anything else that peaks my interest, I’ll definitely pick them up. It’s not often that I pick up an author I’ve never heard of before and this Readathon introduced me to a lot of new authors. It also showed me that the amount of Asian authors I read was woefully lacking. I aim to fix that in the future.

Without further ado, here are the books I read for the Asian Readathon:

Completed Books:

  1. As Miss Beelzebub Likes by Matuba (Vol 1)[3 stars]
  2. Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (The Sidekick Squad, Book 1)[4 stars]
  3. Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee (The Sidekick Squad, Book 2)[3 stars]
  4. Reflection by Elizabeth Lim (Twisted Tales, Book 4)[4 stars]
  5. I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya [3 stars]
  6. Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell [2 stars]
  7. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman [average of 3.8 stars]

I didn’t get around to finishing Descendant of the Crane like I’d originally planned but I do hope to read it in the hear future. As well, I didn’t read The Sun is Also a Star as I instead chose to read books written by Asian authors instead of just about them. Finally, I didn’t end up finishing Everything Here is Beautiful, even though I’ve started it. I hope to finish it shortly but I also have 2 other books on the go right now. Either way, I will be reading all 3 of these books before too long

All of the books I read throughout this Readathon have their own dedicated post. Here’s a very brief outline of my feelings on each book:

Continue reading “Asian Readathon Wrap Up”

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings – Edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

Average Rating: 3.8/5  stars

Thosand

Pages: 323

Series: n/a

Genres: YA, Short Stories, Anthology, Fantasy, Mythology

Reading Challenges: 1 (Asian Authors: various nationalities); 5 (Group book of the Readathon)

The hosts of the Readathon (Cindy, Sandra, Chloe, Kav, and Ellias) are hosting a live show on Saturday, May 25 at 6pm EST on readwithcindy’s channel on YouTube. If you have not yet read this Anthology, I highly suggest you do. If you have, I highly suggest you watch the live stream to see what other peoples’ thoughts and feeling are on these different stories.

On a side note, this live stream is occurring the same weekend as Anime North in Toronto, Ontario. I know this is a huge coincidence, but I enjoy the fact that I’ll be taking a break from a convention celebrating the same cultures as this Readathon so that I can watch the live stream of the group book.

Overall, I found this book to be highly enjoyable. I enjoyed reading short stories by authors I already know and love as well as being introduced to new authors that I’ll definitely be checking out again. I enjoy learning about different cultures’ mythologies and belief systems and reading this Anthology introduced me to some that I didn’t know I didn’t know. I’ll definitely be looking for more about these stories in the future.

Continue reading “A Thousand Beginnings and Endings – Edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman”

Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell

Rating: 2/5 stars

Sorry.jpg

Pages: 263

Series: n/a

Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary

Reading Challenges: 1 (Asian Author: Korean); 3 (LGBT+ author)

While I love a good mystery, this book didn’t do it for me. Almost at the start of the novel, I was able to guess what the “mystery” element would be. I wish that this book had held me in a little bit more suspense than it had.

Another thing that I found issue in was the main character, Helen, and her obsession with thinking that she’s the best, most ethical person there is. She claims that she’s the best at everything she does even though time and time again it’s shown that she’s not as good at everything as she thinks she is. While this could be a good plot point in a book if the character is able to show growth, Helen seems to remain incapable of seeing her own faults. Helen is the spitting image of an unreliable narrator, but she was not written well.

That being said, my biggest issue with Helen would probably have to be the fact that she’s the most self-absorbed person I’ve read about in a while. Everything that’s happening around her has to be related to her own experiences, even if there’s no correlation. She questions what stories about her dead brother have to do with her life and what she could do with the information instead of being thankful that she’s learning more about her brother. As well, she seems perfectly content at blocking out other peoples’ existences when they don’t benefit her in any way. Not only that, but Helen remains delusional as to her own self-absorption. There’s even a moment in the book where Helen laments that she prefers to be “an extra in the movie of [her] own life”.

I have no problem reading about a character that I personally don’t like, or even being in their head, but that’s only when the plot is able to grasp my attention and hold some weight. In this book, however, I felt like there was only the barest hint of a plot around Helen’s musings. While the synopsis of the book talks about Helen trying to figure out why her brother took his own life, the book doesn’t seem to be about this at all. The real mystery, to me, was finding out why Helen was so obsessed with herself and how she believed that she was perfect.

While it is true that this book shows how Helen is attempting to deal with her grief, very little of what is said has to do with anything other than her own self-absorption. I’d be more understanding of this if her self-obsession hasn’t been established before Helen received the news that her brother was dead.

After finishing this book and reading some reviews about it, I don’t understand how people were able to find this story humorous. There was nothing funny to me, seeing a person who has their own issues trying to overcome grief in the only way she knows how. While I did not personally enjoy this story, I would never laugh at someone’s pain. I can’t think of anything in this story that there was to laugh about other than someone being so close minded as to laugh at another’s struggles and pain.

Sure Helen is not a character I like, but that doesn’t mean that I’m willing to laugh at her struggles. I don’t think anyone should be made fun of for the struggles they go through or how they deal with their situation in life. So if you do decide to read this story, please think about the message that it’s trying to get across, and how Helen is trying to deal with her situation, before you decide that something is funny. Try to put yourself in her situation and see how you would feel being laughed at.

Yes, the writing and phrasing was weird at times, but that doesn’t negate the fact that this is a story about someone dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. Yes, Helen makes mistakes, but she’s human. I don’t think it’s right to laugh at someone for trying to help out and accidentally messing up.

Please, think about how your thoughts or actions would impact a person before you act on them. Yes, Helen is a fictional character, but there are so many people alive right now going through similar things. Please, have some empathy and compassion.