Uncategorized · wrap up

March 2016 Wrap Up

Happy Sunday all! I’m finally here with my March wrap up. At this rate, my April wrap up will be up in June or something. Time moves so fast; I get to the end of the month and then I realize I haven’t done a wrap up yet..But anyways, here are all the books I read in March.

So the first thing I read this month was..

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4/5

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo Mini review here along with other nonfiction books

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson-I think it’s actually forbidden to give a Brandon Sanderson book anything less than a 3 stars. It’s like a rule of the BS Fight Club..if he had

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2/5

one. But this book was soooo weak. David’s humor that was endearing before just turned too campy and awkward in this one. I did not give one shit about the secondary characters who are all just caricatures and not in an I-can-excuse-it type way either. It tries way too hard to subvert espionage comedy tropes and ends up succumbing to this tropes. And lastly, why does everything in a Brandon Sanderson book have to have an otherworldly explanation, like some fiery ball in the sky created the world?? The ending was so bad; it’s like Sanderson wanted to add an interesting plot twist but it ends up falling flat because it was out of no where and actually pulls back the whole message of the series. Ugh. So disappointed.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl-On the other end of the

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3.75/5

spectrum, I really liked Night Film. I’m not a murder mystery fan at all but this one was an exception. This book is known for its pictures of articles, blog entries and case files interspersed throughout which I think is brilliant considering this is a murder mystery. Pessl does an amazing job of building up the mystery surrounding the victim, Ashley Cordova and her mysterious, reclusive father, and she kept the dark and eerie atmosphere all the way throughout the book. Full review coming soon

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Excerpt from Night Film

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler-I want Anne Tyler to write my family saga because

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3.5/5

she is so talented at writing family dynamics and interactions. With only one subtle conversation (a page and a half) between the husband (Red) and wife (Abby), I could already tell about their relationship to one another, their beliefs and values, their quirks and irritations all the while reminding me of my aunt, my mom, my dad, and my uncle all wrapped into one humorous conversation. How do you that???! She follows 3 generations of the Whitshanks including Red’s parents, Red and Abby’s teenage years and the present where their children must deal with their parents growing old and things like that. And unlike a lot of literary family sagas I’ve read, this one was so humorous and charming and not very dense.  I feel like she could have explored more with this family but whatever..

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury- I may read a variety of

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4/5

books but YA fantasy with a touch of romance will always have a special place in my heart although  I admit there’s been kind of a drought with YA fantasy I want to read lately. I’ll leave my Goodreads rant about this book:

Here’s the deal:

I’m not gonna lie; this book was predictable af. In terms of the romance and plot at least and I honestly think this book is first and foremost, a romance.

Characters: Our heroine, Zahra, is omigosh, a blushing heroine and of course, of course, our hero has been with all the girls before he met our heroine and of course, she is the only one for him.

It’s one of those books where the main characters are infiltrating a castle and there’s angst, angst, angst, oh wait I got this one little piece of information that’s important to the plot, angst, oh, um let’s have the main bad guy almost sexually assault the heroine and then have the hero swoop in and save her (cause you know, you HAVE to have that scene), angst, angst, another piece of information!, angst, a dance scene!, angst, Oh wait, there’s not enough pages left, let’s solve the problem in the most convenient manner possible, confessions of undying love, climax, happily ever after, end of book.

This book is marketed as a forbidden romance but to be honest, I don’t really see the forbidden part of it? Like the only reason I can think of is that it’s because Zahra is a jinn and Aladdin is a human..I never, once, thought that was ever an issue because it’s kind of obvious Zahra is not going to be a jinn by the end of the book so she can be with Aladdin and that kind of makes all their angst kind of irrelevant.
But, I mean, whatever, this book was so engaging and fun and the worldbuilding was really impressive for a standalone fantasy. The writing is very lush and magical. Hence, the four stars. Such a captivating read.

Graphic Novels

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3/5

Fables Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham– I read this volume after playing the game inspired from it. I enjoyed both and I have a full review of both here. It’s for those who want a little grit and less magic to their fairy tale retellings.

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4/5

Captain Marvel Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue Deconnick– Omigosh Girl Crush Alert. Captain Marvel is one awesome, funny superhero with a cat and her story in this volume was so epic and more space opera-y than I expected which is a bonus. I love the artwork as well. It just keeps you on your toes with its depiction of movement and fast action.

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3/5

Gotham Academy Vol. 1 by  Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher-Gotham Academy is shooo cute..It’s about a bunch of kids who attend Gotham Academy and it’s very Harry Potteresque what with the magic school and the episodic plot. The plot is kind of random most of the time and the it’s confusing for half of it because the author withholds way too much information about Olive’s past (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention?). The artwork for the characters is very reminiscient of manga art so if you like that type of art, this one’s for you.

Short Story

Midnight Hour by Mary Robinette Kowal- A king is only lucid at night and insane for the rest of the time. And his wife, the queen, is nameless. There is also a curse. How are these connected? Read the story here to find out. Solid writing and a very interesting premise.

Let me know if you’ve enjoyed any of these books or if you have any of these on your TBR! =) Also, I’m really in a suspense thriller mood so if you’ve read any good ones, I would love any suggestions! ALSO, should I read Lady Midnight??? I think I’m kind of over Cassandra Clare’s books but I mean I have read all her books?? I was kinda meh about the first Shadowhunter series. But I enjoyed The Infernal Devices (although they’re not really favorites of mine) especially Clockwork Prince.

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Book Recommendations · book review · Uncategorized

Mini Book Reviews: Nonfiction

 

Happy Easter everyone! I’m currently in the midst of packing so I can go back to my apartment and start my last quarter at school..In other news, my heart goes out to those in Belgium and Iraq. I don’t know how I was going to transition into these set of reviews but I wanted to review a few nonfiction books that I’ve read recently. I hope you find something you enjoy! 🙂

 

Catfish and Mandala 4370-“Some call you the lost brothers. Look at you. Living in America has lightened your skin, made you forget your language. You eat nutritious Western food and you are bigger and stronger than us. You know better than to smoke and drink like Vietnamese. Someday, your blood will mix so well with the Western blood that there will be no difference between you and them. You are already lost to us.”

Rating: 4 stars

Author: Andrew X. Pham

Goodreads

Older generation Vietnamese people are obsessed with the Vietnam War, obsessed. We have countless songs and stories about it and I find that a LOT of Vietnamese/Vietnamese American literature focuses solely on the war and not much else. Which is why I’m so glad I found Catfish and Mandala. It focuses not only on the immigration experience but also immerses us into the country of Vietnam, its beauty but also its dark underbelly. Pham alternates between the past in which he recounts how he escaped to America and the brutal reality of not knowing where you belong but also the present where he tries to come to terms with not only his ambivalence towards Vietnam but the circumstances surrounding the suicide of his transgender sister and the numerous generational conflicts of his parents. I thought it was written in a very honest way and I find that Pham writes with an extra touch of style that a lot of Vietnamese American authors I’ve read lack. It was interesting to see an almost immediate account of someone escaping on a boat when I’ve really only heard about it indirectly through family members.

Between the World and Me25489625 “I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”

Rating: 3 Stars

Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Goodreads

What it’s about-A father writing letters to his son about his experience as a black man in America, what it means to be black in America, and what he hopes for the future of race in America.

This book has gotten rave reviews from so many people and I had really high hopes but alas, it’s another one of those overhyped books that I did not seem to like as much. #hipster jk, kind of. DOn’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like about this book. Coates has some really interesting race theories that I’ve never encountered before. He boils down the conflict of the black people to violence of the black “body” and how there will always be this barrier to the American dream for the black people because the American dream was made possible because of the enslavement and degradation of black people. He asks us to reevaluate what the American dream even means. And he includes many contemporary examples of police brutality including Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Which is where I had problems. See, he simplifies the problem too much. It’s not about blacks vs. whites, it’s not about police vs. blacks, good vs. evil. He never gives me the other points of view. I want to know the full story and because he doesn’t give me those other POVs, it just ends up sounding like propaganda. And for all the philosophy that he gives, he’s actually kind of vague and abstract about all of them which just makes it feel like he spewed out anything on his  mind and that was that. The structure of the book is also quite erratic. It just jumps from one thing to another almost like a stream of consciousness. So I think this book is worth reading but it does have his flaws.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers-“It seemed to him that in Annawadi, fortunes derived not just from what pe12900261_1077589925596072_93077103_nople did, or how well they did it, but from the accidents and catastrophes they dodged. A decent life was the train that hadn’t hit you, the slumlord you hadn’t offended, the malaria you hadn’t caught.”

Rating: 4 stars

Author: Katherine Boo

Goodreads

Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize
I was a little skeptical going into this book because it’s a book about a Mumbai slum written from a Western perspective. There’s always the fear of the viewing the West as the “savior”, things like that. But I’m very happy it didn’t dissolve into that. Instead, Boo paints these people with tenderness and detached sentimentality that makes it all the more powerful and heart-wrenching. There was a point in the book where a woman self-immolates herself so her family can get money from the another family that they have incriminated and all the boy from the other family can think about is that he is going to jail. I thought it was impressive that Boo writes about poverty as not about just being poor and not having enough food to eat. It is about the lengths that people will go to to survive and move up in the social hierarchy. It’s about the elevated power of money when everyone is poor and how that leads to a  deeply ingrained game of corruption that everyone in this community has to play in or they will not survive. It’s a stunning piece of investigative journalism where you read about what Boo did to acquire this information. I believe that she lived in Mumbai for a time. She had eyewitness accounts and interviews to many of the people and events described in the book. She spent years trying to obtain certain records to use in the book. I think her dedication really shines.

Just a side note- This book is narrative nonfiction which means that it’s a real story but Boo writes the story in third person as if the people in it were fictional characters like
“James went to the store and bought tomatoes” like a book version of a documentary. It can be a bad thing to some readers as it makes it feel like a story instead of something that has actually happened to real people but it depends on the reader. I personally didn’t mind.

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