Review: From Little Tokyo, With Love

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher for promotional purposes. 

This was such a cute and heartwarming story!

I loved the representation in this. Both the main characters are biracial. Rika is Japanese and white and Hank is Filipino and Chinese. I am biracial myself (Filipino and white) so I related a lot to them. I really resonated with something Rika said. She states, “But it’s not like white people look at me and think I’m one of them” (pg. 130). I have felt that way my whole life. 

Also in terms of representation, Rika’s aunts were lesbians which I found very refreshing and important especially in regards to the Asian American community. Often times LBGTQA+ people are not accepted by the Asian American community and this book highlighted that fact.

I liked that the Rika was flawed. So many young adult female leads are written as perfect people, so it was nice to see one who had flaws. It made her feel more realistic. 

I also enjoyed that the city of LA was utilized well. Numerous books just use LA as a backdrop but never explore the city. Here, it was given a life of its own and featured lesser known attractions like the old Griffith Park Zoo (I never knew this existed and need to check it out!). 

Lastly, going back to Asian American communities, this book delved into the shortcomings of said communities. One character states,

“I really wish so many of our communities would just, like, acknowledge that anger isn’t always a bad emotion…You can’t just reject it — you have to let yourself feel it, make room for it, or all that repressing will burn you up inside”

pg 313

That is so true. We are often taught to just hold our anger inside but that isn’t healthy. We can and should be angry. Additionally, the book also talks about shame in relation to not being what is considered to be “perfect” in the community. 

Overall, this book was relatable with a super cute romance, but it also struck a more serious note and shed a light on the Asian American experience. 

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Review: Beyond the Point

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received copy of this book for free from the publisher as part of an Instagram book tour I did to promote the book. 

Omg what a beautiful book! It definitely lives up to all the hype. 

The story was mesmerizing. I became so invested in the lives of the three women. I felt like I personally knew them and that I was right there with them through their ups and downs. All three of them felt so realistic.

The author’s writing style is phenomenal. There’s something utterly captivating about it. 

Some people mention that this book should be classified as Christian fiction because of the talk of God and religion. I have read my fair share of Christian fiction and I don’t think this book quite fits that. There are mentions of God, but that’s mainly due to one character being religious. Just because the Christian religion is discussed in a book does not mean it is Christian fiction. There is so much more to this book than that (friendship, love, grief, etc.). 

My edition had a little bonus section at the end with filled background behind the novel, including interviews with real life West Point women. I enjoyed hearing their experiences. 

Lastly, I wanted to share a quote from the book about love that really struck me. The author writes,

“Love starts in the body. It starts with the tingling of toes and the rushing of blood and the lightness in the head. It feels a lot like pain…There are convulsions, nausea, heartburn, and breathlessness. There is a physical ache you feel when falling in love. It’s your heart making room for someone else, like a gardener is there, digging out a hole for a new plant. There is pain, and there is fear. The fear that the hole might stay forever”

pg. 151-152

Overall, I LOVED this book and consider it a new favorite of mine. If you’ve been putting off reading this book like I did (it had been sitting on my shelf since 2019), just pick it up already and read it! 

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Review: When the Bee Stings

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

Last year, I read the author’s other book, This Woman is Still Girl, and enjoyed it, so I of course wanted to read her newest collection. It did not disappoint! 

The growth from her other book to this one is so apparent. I liked her other book (I gave it 4 stars), but this one took it to the next level. IT tackles a wide range of topics from heartbreak to mental health. Every poem hits the right note. It’s raw. It’s real. It’s authentic. It’s inspiring. 

So many of the poems resonated with me. Here is a list of my favorites:

  • When I Wear Red Lipstick (pg. 10)
  • All The Stupid Things I Considered After The Breakup (pg. 12)
  • Heartbreak Survival Guide (pg. 18)
  • Walk Away (pg. 33)
  • Hunters (pg. 38)
  • Sunday Service (pg. 40)
  • Faith (pg. 54)
  • Inside Voices (pg. 59)
  • When The Bee Stings (pg. 61)
  • What I Live For (pg. 78)
  • My Own Advice (pg. 83)
  • Coloring Outside The Lines (pg. 87)
  • Hope Will Be The Shelter (pg. 92)
  • Catch Fire (pg. 94)
  • Winter (pg. 105)
  • Thankful (pg. 110)
  • My Honest Poem (pg. 117) 
  • On Her Own Terms (pg. 128)
  • Your Body Is Poetry (pg. 138)
  • No One Tells You (pg. 241)
  • Women’s Evolution (pg. 151)

Overall, this was a stunning collection of poetry that comes from the heart! 

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Review: Bad Lawyer

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Hachette Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

What a wild ride!

I’m just about to graduate law school so I thought it was the perfect time to read this book. 

Even though the author is a white woman from a privileged background and I am an Asian American woman, I still related to her and her experiences becoming disenchanted by the law. I agree with a lot of her issues with the legal profession and system. She went into criminal law, a field I have no interest in, but I am not surprised by her experiences or her realizations. The legal system is incredibly archaic and it can be frustrating because of that. 

Even law school itself makes no sense sometimes. She writes in relation to summer jobs,

“representatives from all the top law firms in the country came…and interviewed students for their 2Ls summer jobs, which are said to determine the rest of our legal careers. Why? I have no idea. It was just something we all knew and all accepted.”

pg. 83

That is a true statement and just highlights how cookie cutter becoming a lawyer can be.

I loved how the author explained everything so simply. For example, she explains all the basics of law school in such uncomplicated language. She really provided an in-depth overview of all things law school. She even mentions bar review which was something I was super confused about when I first started law school (I naively thought it was when 3Ls studied for the bar exam, but it’s actually when law students go out to a bar for drinks). 

If the author needs an idea for another book, she should totally do a “Law School For Dummies” type of book. Her writing style is so accessible (unlike most law books) so even the lay person can understand what she’s saying. This probably stems from her inability to master the Bluebook (another archaic legal gatekeeping tool or as she puts it, “The cursed Bluebook is filled with ways to make the law inaccessible to non lawyers. That’s what the law is all about— making what should be accessible esoteric to keep lawyer salaries high” (pg. 66)). 

I did feel that the book lost a bit of its steam towards the end. It felt a little lost, like the author didn’t quite know how to end the book. Because of that, the last few chapters were disjointed from the first half of the book. The last chapters dealt with how messed up the criminal justice system is and I felt that those chapters could have been a jumping off point for a whole other book. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this memoir on the realities of being lawyer. I really recommend this if you are interested in becoming a lawyer. Not everything she says may apply to you, but it does give honest insight into the profession. 

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Review: My Last Summer with Cass

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Rating: ★★★½

 I received an ARC of this book for free from The Novl in exchange for an honest review. 

The strongest part of this book was how it portrayed a complicated friend dynamic. It explored their past as childhood friends, then their last summer together in New York, and then finally revisited them a few years later. It really highlighted the highs and the lows of their friendship well.

Since this is a graphic novel, I have to talk about the artwork. I had an ARC so the art was not in full color. But I did look through the book preview on Amazon and saw it in full color and the coloring was amazing! 

However, I wanted a little bit more from the story. The plot is incredibly basic and I would have liked for it to have been more nuanced. It’s also very fast paced and would have benefited from a slower pace, especially after the main conflict happened. It jumped from the main conflict to three years later so fast. I would have liked to seen the aftermath of it play out more (most of it happened off page), especially in regards to Megan and her parents. 

Overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel, but ultimately was left wanting more. If you like art or are an artist yourself, you may like this one! 

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Review: The Maidens

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Rating: ★★★½

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

First off, I just want to preface by saying that I have not read the author’s other book, The Silent Patient. I cannot speak as to how this book compares nor did I have any expectations going in. I have heard from other reviewers that this book is set in the same universe as The Silent Patient, so if you’ve read that there are probably some references to it in this book. 

There were some things that I really liked about this book, and some things I did not like.

I really liked the dark academia setting and aesthetic. I thought it was very well done and had the perfect tone to create the dark academia atmosphere. 

The incorporation of greek tragedy and mythology was also well done. 

I also liked the short chapters. It helped the book flow so nicely and made reading the book a breeze. 

Now onto what I didn’t like. 

For a book called The Maidens, there was little time actually spent on the Maidens. We never really got to see what they did in their secret society, nor were the girls themselves explored that deeply. I felt like this was a missed opportunity and could have added to the mystery. 

When it comes to thrillers, the endings are often a hit or a miss. The ending of this one was a miss for me. The ending seemed a little out of left field and also felt rushed.

Overall, this book had a lot of potential but it fell a little flat for me. 

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Review: I Used to Have a Plan

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Harper Design) in exchange for an honest review.

This was such a gem of a book! 

The book is full of illustrations and sayings to help you through tough times. It is divided up into 5 sections for every step in your journey. I found the whole thing to be so relatable. My life has definitely not gone according to plan. There were many pictures/sayings that resonated with me. I particularly liked one in the beginning that said, “This was not how it was supposed to go” with a headstone that said “My ego” on the opposite page. That one hit hard. 

I loved the overall aesthetic of the artwork. It was very clean and simple yet still packed a punch. Because of its simplicity, it had a calming effect. 

I also liked the short introduction that the author wrote explaining the inspiration of the book. I can tell that the book comes from her heart and experiences. 

The book is fairly basic, so I wished there was a little bit more in terms of depth and content. It could have been expanded more. 

Overall, I loved how relatable this book is! I recommend it for anyone who may need a little pick me up after life knocks them down. 

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Review: The New Normal

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (William Morrow) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was an incredibly insightful and informative read!

First off, this book is so accessible. There is no medical jargon here. Everything is broken down in easy to understand language. Dr. Ashton does a fantastic job explaining the basic science behind COVID in a way everyone can comprehend. 

Secondly, the book is also very practical. Dr. Ashton provides readers with advice that is realistically attainable which I appreciated. Sometimes books like these can prompt readers to do some lofty things, so I was happy to see that this book offered more grounded advice. 

Throughout the book, she also shares anecdotal stories about her life during the pandemic which made the book relatable. Seeing a doctor go through similar struggles shows that this pandemic affects everyone in some way and that we all have a common struggle. 

Since the virus is constantly changing, parts of this book are a little outdated. That was to be expected. Because of that, there is no discussion on the vaccines. 

The book is generally, very well written. However, it is sometimes circular and repetitive. She will sometimes state the same ideas again, even though she just said it two pages ago. 

Overall, this was a great read. I recommend it if you’re looking for some practical guidance in navigating our new normal! 

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Review: Plain Bad Heroines

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (William Morrow Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was such a unique read! 

The best part of this book was definitely the overall vibe and aesthetic. It had a slightly creepy and gothic feel that ran throughout the entire book, even the present day parts. There was also a fair amount of humor and satire that worked well with the gothic vibes and made for an interesting juxtaposition. 

The structure of the book was very clever. The story within a story element was well done and very engaging. I also liked the footnotes. They were very entertaining and added even more humor to the story.

The story started out very strong, but I was a little disappointed at the end. It didn’t live up to my expectations. I was expecting more of a big reveal or an “a-ha” moment. There are still some things that I am a little confused on. 

This book is classified by horror, but many other reviewers say they find it to be very light on horror. I agree with that and I would say that it is more of a gothic horror. The horror is more of a gothic creepiness than any sort of gore or violence. 

The book also has illustrations throughout the book which I found to be a nice touch. There is even a map of the school which made navigating the story easy. 

Overall, I enjoyed the aesthetic of this book the most. I recommend it if you’re looking for something a little different to read.

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Review: All Our Hidden Gifts (All Our Hidden Gifts #1)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Walker Books US) in exchange for an honest review. 

I was very excited to read this book because it focuses on tarot and I recently just learned how to read tarot. 

Speaking of tarot, I liked how there were pictures of the tarot cards scattered throughout the book. I think that is so helpful for readers who may not be familiar with tarot cards and what each card looks like. 

When it comes to the characters, there is so much representation. Roe is non-binary. Maeve has a lesbian sister. But my favorite character was Fiona, Maeve’s Filipino friend. As a Filipino myself, I love seeing Filipino representation so when Fiona was first introduced, I was ecstatic. I loved that Fiona’s family was a little witchy. Her tita (aunt) is a fortune teller who helps them and tells them about the White Lady (Kaperosa in the Philippines). I found it so refreshing to see a nonwhite representation of witchcraft. So often witchcraft in books is so centered on a white perspective, but witchcraft is in every culture, as Fiona’s tita illustrates. She mentions that versions of the White Lady exist everywhere, in different cultures and places. 

As for the plot, it started off really strong with the mystery of Lily’s disappearance. But about halfway through, it stalled and lost some of its momentum. I felt like it dragged on a bit in the middle. I believe there will be a sequel to this book, and I think the book did set up a sequel very nicely. 

Overall, I recommend this book for anyone looking for a witchy YA read! 

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