Review: The Dead Queens Club

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Rating: ★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Inkyard Press) in exchange for an honest review. 

Initially, I was super excited to read this book. The Tudors meets Mean Girls? Yes please! However, this book ended up being pretty messy. 

My main issue is that the book is way too long. The book is about 450 pages and could have easily been just over 300. The whole first half is is slow and confusing. The book starts off at girlfriend number 5 and then kind of goes back and forth into the backstory. And there was so much backstory. It could have been summarized significantly and in a more chronological manner. Part of the issue was that the backstory jumped around a lot so it was sometimes hard to get a bearing as to what point in time it was.

Once the book got to girlfriend number 6 (about halfway through), it picked up. It was so much more exciting and The Dead Queens Club finally came into fruition. The book was enjoyable from the halfway point onwards. 

There were some things I did like. The premise was genius. Taking Henry and his 6 wives and setting it in a high school was so appropriate. I liked how Henry and the wives were all translated. I also liked the themes the book handled like slut shaming for example. 

Overall, this book could have been really amazing had it been edited more for clarity and length. 

Patron Saints of Nothing blog tour: author guest post!

Hello beauties! Today I am so thrilled to be a stop on the Patron Saints of Nothing blog tour. As a biracial Filipino American like the main character, this book means the world to me because representation matters! I have written a review for this book (which will be up on a later date, spoiler alert: I gave it 5 stars), but for today I have an awesome guest post from the author, Randy Ribay, where he describes why he decided to tackle the heavy subject of President Duterte’s war on drugs.

Without further ado, here is the post written by Randy Ribay:

In the novel Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami writes, “Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.”

I think about this concept a lot, and I think it helps explain why I’ve always been drawn to “heavy” subjects, as the books and TV shows and movies I love the most are usually stories grappling with very serious issues. I feel as though such stories get at the core of what’s real. They show us who we truly are—as individuals, as humanity—at our best and our worst. I believe it’s important to confront these moments to figure out what leads us down one path or another. 

As a Filipino American, I wanted to explore the drug war in the Philippines because the thousands of extrajudicial killings comprise such a moment. I wanted to think through why President Duterte and other politicians believe it’s a good solution, why so many Filipinos support it, why some fight it, and why so many people (Filipino and otherwise) choose to ignore it. Of course, it’s one thing to try to understand this at the macro-level as a matter of policy, but there’s also a human impact of these cumulative actions/reactions/inactions, and that’s what I wanted to look at through Patron Saints of Nothing

The main character, Jay, is a Filipino American only vaguely aware of the drug war going on in the country where he was born. But when he gets news of his cousin’s death as a result of that drug war, he decides to try to figure out what really happened. Pursuing that question causes him to also confront a whole host of other questions about identity, family, faith, morality, truth, etc., that he likewise hadn’t given much thought to before. I think it’s only by struggling with such questions that can we develop a better understanding of who we are as individuals and who we are as a community. With that, we have a much better chance of becoming who we want to become. 


BOOK DESCRIPTION

A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.


AUTHOR BIO:

Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest. He is the author of After the Shot Drops and An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes. He earned his BA in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Master’s Degree in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He currently teaches English and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Review: Normal People

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Rating: ★★★½

I received this book for free from the publisher (Hogarth Books).

I was so excited to read this book because Sally Rooney’s other book, Conversations with Friends, is one of my all time favorite books. Because of that, I had high expectations for this book. Unfortunately, this book didn’t quite live up to them. 

There were a lot of things that I did like about this book. One being that I loved the writing style. It’s very beautiful in an understated way. I also have no issues whatsoever with the no quotation mark format that Rooney utilizes. I think it fits in well with her style.

I also loved how the story delves deep into the characters and the psychology of Marianne and Connell’s relationship. It felt very intimate. 

Additionally, there were some passages that I really loved. On pages 71-72, I loved the paragraph describing Connell’s love of literature. Then on page 100-101, I loved the paragraph about Marianne and Connell’s discussions after sex. These two paragraphs are just some of the many examples of the beauty of her writing. 

On the flip side, what I didn’t like was that the story wasn’t that interesting. In Conversations with Friends, I loved the premise and things actually happened. In this book, there was just a lot of going back and forth between the characters. They would get together, then they would split, then they would get back together. It just didn’t interest me as much. I also wasn’t satisfied by the ending. It fell flat for me.  

Overall, this book didn’t live up to my expectations, but don’t let that stop you from reading it for yourself. 


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Becoming Dr. Seuss giveaway!

Hi beauties! I am so happy to announce that I have partnered with Dutton Books to giveaway Becoming Dr. Seuss by Brian Jay Jones. The good news is that there will be 5 winners! I haven’t read it yet, but I’m excited to. Like many, I grew up reading Dr. Seuss so I’m curious to know more about the man behind the books.

Here’s the synopsis:

The definitive, fascinating, all-reaching biography of Dr. Seuss.

Dr. Seuss is a classic American icon. Whimsical and wonderful, his work has defined our childhoods and the childhoods of our own children. The silly, simple rhymes are a bottomless well of magic, his illustrations timeless favorites because, quite simply, he makes us laugh. The Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, Horton, and so many more, are his troupe of beloved, and uniquely Seussian, creations.

Theodor Geisel, however, had a second, more radical side. It is there that the allure and fasciation of his Dr. Seuss alter ego begins. He had a successful career as an advertising man and then as a political cartoonist, his personal convictions appearing, not always subtly, throughout his books—remember the environmentalist of The Lorax? Geisel was a complicated man on an important mission. He introduced generations to the wonders of reading while teaching young people about empathy and how to treat others well. 

Agonizing over word choices and rhymes, touching up drawings sometimes for years, he upheld a rigorous standard of perfection for his work. Geisel took his responsibility as a writer for children seriously, talking down to no reader, no matter how small. And with classics like Green Eggs and Ham, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Geisel delighted them while they learned. Suddenly, reading became fun.  

Coming right of the heels off George Lucas and bestselling Jim Henson, Brian Jay Jones is quickly developing a reputation as a master biographer of the creative geniuses of our time.  

To enter, just click on the picture above or click here!

xoxo,

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May 2019 wrap-up

Hello beauties! Look at me doing another monthly wrap up. I didn’t think I would actually do these every month but here I am.

So May wasn’t a great reading month for me. The first week and a half was my finals week so I had to study like crazy. Then I went on a week long trip to Hawaii and unlike most people, I never have time to read on vacation.

I ended up reading 4 books (2 of which are super short poetry books). Here’s what I read:

Overall, I liked what I read. I just wish I had read more. The good news is that I started reading 3 books this week, so I know June will be a way better reading month.

How was your reading month? Tell me in the comments!

xoxo,

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Review: On the Occassion of a Wedding

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

First off, I loved that this book was written for a wedding gift to a couple. The dedication says, “To Kristi and Matthew – who are receiving this book as a wedding gift instead of something more practical off their registry.” 

The collection was divided into 4 sections and my favorite was Amor Insanus. That section had all the best poems. They were funny and sexual but still managed to be beautiful and not crude. My favorites from that section were, “A Boring Dream of Our Life in Fine Detail” (pg. 56), “The Unfortunate Subliminal Typo” (pg. 60), “From Your Nakedness, A Poem” (pg. 61), “Manaconda” (pg. 64), “Conjugation, In Latin” (pg. 67), “Subject: Cake No. 50” (pg. 75), “Angel of Light (pg. 78), and “Freudian Slips Of(f) the Thong” (pg. 79). 

The rest of the sections were very romantic, dreamy, and ethereal. Some of my favorites from the remaining sections were, “Quanta Qualia” (pg. 15), “Tears of the Poet” (pg. 23) and “To My Husband Upon Vicennial Introspection” (pg. 103).

The only negative is that there were some poems that I didn’t quite “get”. Some of them were a bit too metaphorical and I wasn’t able to really decipher the meaning. 

Aside from that, I really enjoyed this collection and recommend it to those who enjoy romantic poetry! 

Review: After Life

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Harper Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

Going into this book, I didn’t know that much about Alice. All I knew was that she was serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offense and that Kim Kardashian helped her get commuted. When I saw this was available to review I immediately jumped on it because I wanted to learn more about her. 

Alice’s story is incredible. She truly is an amazing woman and a force to be reckoned with. Her attitude towards life is so admirable. 

I loved that she told her whole story, starting from when she was a kid. It was fascinating learning about her upbringing, her not-so-great choices that lead her to commit the crime, her trial (which had so many things wrong with it), and her life after her conviction. 

The writing style of the book was wonderful. It felt very conversational. It was like Alice was sitting down with you telling her story. When I got to the end, I felt like I was friends with Alice. She was so open about her experiences without being melodramatic. 

The subject matter of the book is so timely. America is in dire need of criminal justice reform and I hope this book can help inspire change by putting a face to the problem. There are so many people like Alice currently sitting in our system. 

Overall, this is a powerful book. It touches upon many themes such as family, faith, and life behind bars. Thank you Alice for sharing your story with the world and inspiring others. Also, kudos to Kim Kardashian West for her role in helping free Alice. Kim gets a lot of hate for various things but you can’t deny her role in this.