June 2019 wrap-up

Hi beauties! I’m back with another monthly wrap up. I read more this month than I did last month. I ended up reading 6 books. It wasn’t as many as I was hoping for but I’m still happy with it.

Here’s what I read:

Overall, I enjoyed most of what I read especially Patron Saints of Nothing. Patron Saints of Nothing is one of my new favorite books. It’s a must read!

How was your reading month? Let me know in the comments.

xoxo,

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Review: Starfish

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

This was such a cute and sexy, but still very sweet romance! 

Marin and Brad were such a cute couple. I loved their dynamic, especially how they brought out the best in each other and encouraged one another. That’s #RelationshipGoals. 

I also liked the balance of the cute and sexy parts of the book. This is a book about rockstars so of course there was sex and some sex scenes. However, there were a ton of really sweet moments too, which just goes back to show how great of a couple they are. Their relationship isn’t just physical, they do connect on a deeper level. 

The book also felt very realistic. At one point it talks about Marin having her period and I thought that was so refreshing to see. You don’t often see periods mentioned in romance books but they are a fact of life. I’m glad the author didn’t shy away from it. 

As a random side note, I could totally tell that the author was from California since she name dropped some lesser known cities like Roseville and Camarillo. I always like seeing that because California is more than just Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

Overall, this is a fun rockstar romance with a lot of heart. 

Review: Patron Saints of Nothing

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher as part of a blog tour. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative. 

I just want to preface this review by saying this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Like the main character of this book, I am half Filipino and half white. Seeing myself represented in literature means the world to me. I also want to say that I’ve never been to the Philippines so I can’t speak to anything in that regard.

Wow. This book was everything. I don’t even know where to begin. 

First off, all the Filipino culture was amazing to see. I’ve never read a book with this much Filipino culture. Every time I saw something, I was like, “Yeah, that’s my culture right there!” By the way, that happened a lot throughout this book. 

The blurb on the back of the cover compares this book to Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. That was likely a marketing ploy, but in a way I do see merit to that comparison. There’s something about Randy Ribay’s writing that reminds me of Angie Thomas’s. They both like to bring up big points in subtle ways. If you’ve read my review of THUG, you’ll see some examples. In this book, one example is when  the author casually brings up the American human zoos. Tito Maning says to Jay, “Do you know the Americans stole entire villages and then displayed them in your country as I they were animals in a zoo?” (pg. 153). Yes, that really did happen. Just google, “1904 World’s Fair filipino.” I only just learned about that when I was in college. 

I thought that the author did a great job describing the President Duterte’s war on drugs in a multifaceted way. He showcased different viewpoints on it and shared actual accounts, like the story of Kian delos Santos, who was unjustly shot and killed by the police. 

I also loved how the author tackled the issue of identity and being biracial. As a fellow biracial Filipino, I could relate to Jay a lot. Being biracial is such a tricky thing and the author captured it perfectly. 

There’s a little bit of LGBT representation which I appreciated. It’s always nice to see the LGBT community acknowledged and normalized, even when it’s not a part of the main storyline.

As for the plot and what happened with Jun, there was a lot of gray areas, which made it feel realistic. Things aren’t so clear cut which is what happens in real life. I appreciated that approach. 

Basically, I just want to thank the author for writing this book. Not only does this book successfully highlight the biracial Filipino American experience, but it also shines a light on a lesser known social injustice. 

To end, I want to share a quote that really hit me:

“It strikes me that I cannot claim this country’s serene coves and sun-soaked beaches without also claiming its poverty, its problems, its history. To say that any aspect of it is part of me is to say that all of it is part of me”

pg. 227

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.

Review: I Owe You One

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Rating: ★★★★½

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

I just want to start off by saying that I’m a huge Sophie Kinsella fan. Her books are always so funny and a feel good read. 

This book definitely takes a while to really get going, but once it does, it’s great. 

As usual Sophie Kinsella knows how to create an eccentric cast of characters. From Fixie’s siblings to the store employees, there was no shortage of hilarious characters. One of my personal favorites was Stacey, the overly flirtatious and sexually suggestive employee. 

I was surprised at how Christmasy this book ended up being. The last chapters centered around Christmas which I found totally appropriate for the message of the book. A lot of the book centers on Fixie and her familial relationships and the Christmas aspect brought it all together nicely. 

I didn’t find this book to be as funny as some of her other books, but I didn’t mind since it was so heart warming.  It had such a strong message of family.

I also liked the character development of Fixie. Fixie starts off as being very naive and a little bit of a pushover. But by the end she learns how to stand up for herself and what she believes in. 

Overall, this was another fabulous book by Sophie Kinsella. 


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Review: The Woman in the White Kimono

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from TLC Book Tours as part of a review tour. 

This was such a heartbreaking read! It was sad, yet beautifully written. 

This book has dual storylines, but I loved that the author really let the historical story shine! Naoko’s story was the more interesting of the two, so I was glad that the author devoted more time to it and was able to really flesh it out. 

The subject matter of the book touches upon a very unknown part of history. It deals with the relationship between American servicemen and local Japanese woman and the children they had. I never knew about this so I was really fascinated by this story. Also being mixed race myself (I’m Filipino and white) I was particularly struck by the attitudes towards mixed race people. I could tell that the author did a lot of research and I liked the author’s note at the end where she talks about the real life inspiration behind the book. 

The strongest part of the book is the writing. Ana Johns writes in such a tragically beautiful way that perfectly captures the mood of the story.

The book is a little slow in the beginning, especially with the contemporary storyline. But by the time you get near the end, you’ll be flipping pages like crazy to find out what happens next. 

Overall, I recommend this book for historical fiction lovers, especially those with an interest in Japan. 



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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.