Book Review: Neverworld Wake

Neverworld Wake book review

Even though I have tons of books to read on my shelves and even though I have 11 books currently checked out from the library (some of which I waited months to come in), I felt the need to read Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl as soon as I heard about it from Alexandra Roselyn’s 5 Star Predictions video.

I checked it out of my library through Overdrive, started reading, and by the time I put it down it was morning. Pessl found such a unique and mystical way to tell a story, I had to know how it ended.

When I put down my Kindle, I spent 10 minutes trying to process my thoughts and feelings. I sat staring off in silence, wrote a quick reaction on Goodreads, then told Lexi how much I loved the book. But I still had these deep emotions I couldn’t shake. So I woke my husband up, curled up, and had him hold me until I felt like I could function again.

My only wish was that the characters were a little more fleshed out. I wanted to know more about them and more about their motivations. I think it was pretty well covered, I just wanted to go in deeper with them.

I don’t know what else to say without ruining the experience. If you want a sci-fi mystery rooted in our reality, but with an otherworldly feel (kinda like the feeling Inception gives), check this out for sure.

Book Review: Stay a Little Longer

Stay a Little Longer book review

I received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of this book courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Stay a Little Longer by Dawn Lanuza
Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: New Adult
Pub Date: May 28, 2019
ISBN: 9781524851057
Price: $14.99 (USD)

They were perfect strangers—all perks, no strings. Until they weren’t.

Elan wasn’t supposed to meet Caty. She lived halfway around the world, and he barely left Manila. Yet here he was, giving her a ride to the airport. Convinced that they would never have to see each other again after that day, Elan and Caty started to bond over truths, dares, stolen kisses, and games in hotel rooms and bars.

With brief encounters that turned them from acquaintances to friends — tipping to the point of lovers, always — will Elan and Caty keep settling for a day, or will someone finally dare to stay long enough to discover: Is this love?

What I Loved:

» A Filipino author!
I never made a concerted effort to read Japanese or Filipino authors until recently. I specifically want to read my ethnic background. It’s easy to find English text of Japanese authors, but difficult of Filipino authors. I stumbled onto this title through pure luck of browsing and I couldn’t be happier.

» Building of Elan & Caty
I hated Caty at first. I hated Elan and Caty interacting. Their dialogue was so clunky and stilted. Caty was so immature and brash, while Elan was such a doormat. I almost DNF-ed the book so many times in Part 1. But then at the end of it, she shows she’s self-aware of how awful she can be.

Then, they get to know each other better. They both share more of themselves and I began to understood why she’s like that and why Elan is overly patient with her. As Elan and Caty open up to each other, their dialogue becomes more fluid and natural. After Part 2 I was full-on rooting for them.

» The Dance Scene
LOVE! I could see it in my mind and I loved it.

» The Long Distance Relationship
My husband and I met by chance and spent almost 2 years in a long distance relationship before we got married. Even after we got married, we spend a lot of time separated because of the military. So the angsty goodbyes and the awkwardness of seeing each other for the first time in months made complete sense. There’s a part when Caty doesn’t know how to handle having Elan in her space and it really resonated with me. When Cass came home from his first deployment, I didn’t know how to exist with him physically in my life again. Lanuza did a great job of capturing those feelings and the difficulty of articulating them to Elan.

What I Wished For:

» More of their pasts
They give each other the quick rundown of their complicated pasts, but I wanted more details. I get the gist of how these events from their pasts have effected them, but I wanted just a little more. Especially from San Juan. Caty talks about how everyone gossips about her. I wanted to see more of that.

» More of Jules
She’s friends with both Elan and Caty and I wanted more of her in their story. They talk about and around her, but she doesn’t have much a presence until a chapter toward the end.

» More info in the epilogue
[Spoiler alert! Highlight over the blank section below to read]
There were very real reasons why Elan lived in Manila and Caty in Toronto/New York. They didn’t address how they were going to bypass Elan’s mother’s health problems and Caty’s career aspirations. Elan felt all that pressure to take care of his mom because his sister had a daughter and her husband worked on a freighter and was gone a lot. Caty was building a styling career in New York and was gaining some traction. They were such huge reasons throughout the story and they felt swept aside with no real explanation.

Realistic long-distance love story with great character development

Asian Book Month

Asian Readathon and Asian Lit Bingo are going on this month and I didn’t really have a set TBR list for either. I actually just found out about Asian Lit Bingo so I haven’t even looked over all the categories yet.

I figure my strategy for both will to just read a bunch of own-voices Asian authors and see what sticks at the end. I’ll be updating my progress here on this blog post for my own record keeping.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Malaysian author/intersectional Asian character/queer romance
My initial thoughts: I finished this in one sitting so it was definitely an engaging read. But I wish the world building was a little better done and the characters more developed. I loved all the Asian culture woven into the story. I’m greedy and I want more of it added in! I’m curious to see where this story goes.

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Iranian author/graphic novel/auto-biography
While I understand the hardship and horror Marji went through, she was a spoiled rich girl and it showed throughout her story. Se doesn’t seem to realize how much freedom she was given because of her family’s money. I found the history lessons interesting and I liked reading about the parts when Marji was in Iran. I appreciate her honesty and showing the darkest parts of her life.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Japanese author/intersectional Asian character/contemporary w Asian MC
I wish I had this book in high school or middle school. I didn’t relate to Kiko on every level, but the parts I did hit me hard. I loved reading about a half-Japanese character! I understood her insecurities and experiences surrounding her race. I really connected with Kiko over her social anxiety. I handle it better outwardly than she does, but her inner dialogue and her feelings of awkwardness may as well be taken straight from my brain.

Book Review: Winter

Winter book review

FINALLY! Finally, I’ve read conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles. I skipped Fairest so I’ll have to read that and Stars Above to really be done with all of the books. But the main 4 books of the series are officially read. Finally.

What I Loved:

» How memorable the series is
It’s been almost three years since I read Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress so my main concern was that I’d start reading Winter and I’d be so lost that I’d have to stop to go back and reread the first three books of the series. But I found that the characters and main plot points have stuck with me and that’s saying a lot.

» None of the title characters are perfect
All the main characters, and even their romantic pairings, are flawed in a significant way. I loved it! Perfection is impossible…and boring.

» The conclusion
I’m so happy the book was as long as it was. I needed a nice long book to finish off the series and I didn’t want anything to be rushed. I saw some reviews complained that the very end was too blah, but I disagree. I got exactly what I wanted in Winter.

What I Wished For:

» More complex romance story lines
I get that these are fairy tale re-tellings, and I guess in a chaotic world it was kind of nice to have such predictable “easy” romances. But I wished for a little more complexity.

» More of Levana being powerful
I wanted to see more of her being a badass villain. She had her moments, but I wanted more.

» More of Winter
So much of the book is about her frailty and beauty. In her moments of lucidity I wanted to see her being strong and inspiring. Also, for being the titular character, she (and Jacin) didn’t seem as fleshed out as the other characters.

Awesome conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles.

Book Review: I Owe You One

I Owe You One book review

I was tired, but I wasn’t sleepy so I started reading thinking I’d fall asleep part way through and finish it in the morning. I accidentally stayed up all night reading this in one sitting…lying…whatever. There was a chaotic Shakespearean quality to the story and I just had to find out how everything is sorted out in the end.

What I Loved:

» How slimy Jake (Fixie’s older brother) & Ryan (the boy she’s been in love with forever) are
They’re so easy to hate. They’re the type of guys who never really say anything, but always have something to say. They rely solely on their charm, looks, and money. They’re all flash. It was fun to be able to have someone to completely hate and root against because they really had no redeemable qualities.

» Easy to read
Like I said, I read it in one go and it didn’t feel like it. I looked down to see my progress and was shocked that I was over halfway and next thing I know I was at 90%.

» Sebastian
I’m not going to say too much because it’s fun to be introduced to him and learn more about him as you go along. But I love the name (mostly because of Sebastian Stan) and I love what he stands for and the way he runs his company.

What I Wished For:

» More of Fixie fixing things
There was mostly moments of her meddling and trying not to. I wish there were more small moments throughout the book where she’s fixing something. Don’t get me wrong, they’re there. I just wanted more.

» More of the late Mr. Farr
They talk a bit about him. Mostly that he was charming, level-headed, and put family first. But I wanted more anecdotes and fond memories of him in the store and with them as children.

» A bit of a longer ending
The ending felt rushed through and I had to reread a few sections because I was a little lost in all the flurry of the windup.

Fun chick lit with some infuriating chaos. Easy to read; I read it in one sitting.

Book Review: Always Never Yours

Always Never Yours book review

The cover has some To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before vibes which threw me off a bit at first. But Megan is very different from Lara Jean so I stopped comparing them right away.

What I Loved:

» Megan embraces her high school role
She knows she’s not the girl these guys will choose for a long-term relationship (or as best as high school can get) so she leans into it. She flirts with all the cute single boys because why not have fun? She also knows she wants to go into directing and everything she does is to improve her résumé for college. She knows exactly where she wants to go and she knows what she needs to do to get in. I hate it when “ambitious high schoolers” are taken by surprise by admissions requirements.

» The authors are married
How cute is that!? This is their first book together and they’re releasing a The Taming of the Shrew retelling soon! I love the play and I’m curious to see their take on it.

» The book is set in Oregon
It never fails to make me happy to find out that a book I’m reading is set in Oregon. Bonus, I’ve been to a play at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival where Megan’s theater program puts on their big show and Ashland is ADORABLE!

What I Wished For:

» More of Megan’s flirtiness
There was some of her overt flirting, but not as much as I was expecting. She’s the school flirt and I wanted to see a lot more of it.

» More of Megan’s exes and where they are now
She’s the one before the one and I only got a real sense of one of the couples and I have questions about the others. How quickly did these guys find their ultimate high school loves after breaking up with Megan? How many of them did she have real feelings for? Where does she find these guys? Does she know/like all the girls they ended up with?

» Megan’s assertiveness
There were several times I was screaming at Megan to speak up. She’s so confident in who she is in school and in the theater, I hate that she doesn’t always stand up for herself or express her feelings in her personal life. Don’t get me started on her theater teacher.

Super cute high school love story with Shakespeare connections.

Fantasy AdventureAThon TBR

I was browsing through Twitter and came across the Fantasy AdventureAThon. I loved the idea of a choose your own adventure challenge and it’s been a while since I’ve read fantasy so this sounded like fun!

I came up with my path and team fairly quickly.

My TBR took more time because all my books are still packed in boxes. I dug through them to find as many of my fantasy books as I could without taking every single book out. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but the only books I’m buying are graphic novels to complete collections. Everything I read is either books I already own or books I borrow.

I was hoping more of my holds at the library would come through, but they didn’t. I picked some popular books and new releases, so they were long shots. But I still have a week so fingers crossed.

If you want to join, it’s not too late! Go here for the details.

Book Review: The Heirs

The Heirs book review

This got a lot of comparisons to The Nest, which I enjoyed, so I was excited about this. I also have a weird fascination with inheritance and how people have a strong sense of entitlement to someone else’s money.

Personally, I would be grateful if my parents left me anything, but I’m not going to demand it or hire a lawyer because I don’t feel like their money is my money. So when legal battles get ugly over money because someone feels like they deserve it, even if they weren’t included in the will, I’m like, “Get the popcorn!” Because greed is ugly and it’s a curse and if you’re going to create a spectacle over it, you deserve to be watched like the drama you are.

What I Loved:

» The Writing
I couldn’t stop reading. I could have easily read this in one sitting if I didn’t have life happening…or two needy dogs. I loved Rupert and Eleanor and their sons and all their friends and their sons’ friends and their sons’ families.

» The Characters
I feel like I know these people. Like they’re real people and I know them. Even though the book introduces a ton of different characters, the story really revolves around Rupert and Eleanor and how each person relates to them.

» All the Different Perspectives
With each new person and chapter, more little anecdotes and memories were released. Sometimes with this kind of story telling I get lost and frustrated because I want to stick with a particular story line. But this was masterfully done and I went along with whatever piece of the story Susan Rieger wanted to tell me.

The Heirs quote

What I Wished For:

» More of the Sons
Did I miss chapters on Tom and Jack? They seemed skipped over. Maybe that was the point since they were the youngest. Aren’t kids more and more overlooked the more that you have? I don’t know, I don’t have kids and I’m the oldest so I have no idea.

» More Eleanor
I don’t know what more I could want of her, but I do! She’s fascinating and I couldn’t get enough of her.

» A Glossary of Characters
You don’t even know how many characters are introduced. I really needed a list of all the characters and how they’re related to the family. At the end, there were some people that were touched on that I still can’t remember who they were or how they knew Eleanor.

Loved it, great writing, couldn’t get enough of Eleanor.

Book Review: The Dreamers

The Dreamers book review

I’ve had this on hold at the library for awhile so I can’t remember what first drew me to it, but WOW I’m glad for it. This is my favorite book of 2019 so far.

What I Loved:

» The Reading Experience
I tried to explain this to my husband, but it’s so hard. Here’s my best shot: at the beginning of the book, I felt clear headed and present and sure of what was happening. By the end of the book, I felt a little fuzzy and like I had just woken up from a vivid dream. Like I was in that fuzzy confusing space between the dream world and the real world so I wasn’t sure what was real and what was a dream. The writing style and the story telling really did a number on me.

» The Rising Sense of Panic
Okay, so when I read The Long Walk I felt chronically exhausted. And when I read Station Eleven, I kept wanting to wash my hands or bathe in hand sanitizer. When I read this, I felt a rising sense of panic and an increasing need to stay awake. Part of the staying awake part was because I didn’t want to not wake up and part of it was because I couldn’t stop reading and I stayed up most of the night to find out the ending.

» All the Different Perspectives
A lot of times I really hate more than two perspectives because I get lost so easily and I don’t bond with any character. In this instance, I appreciated jumping into so many perspectives to get a better sense of WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON AND WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE FALLING ASLEEP AND WHO IS NEXT?

» Karen Thompson Walker Lives in Portland
If you’re new here, I’m from Portland so I love it when little things like reading a book by an author living in Portland pop into my life.

The Dreamers quote

What I Wished For:

» More of the Dreamers
I wanted to see more of what was going on with them, especially the original sleepers.

» A Little Deeper Dive into Each Character
I have a pretty good sense of each character, but I wanted just a little more of a connection. A little more action from each of them and a little more of their thoughts and theories of what was happening in their town. I think Sarah and Libby were the most rounded out. I loved seeing them active with their own agendas and plan of action.

» More of and Ending
The ending was great, but I wanted more. There were a lot of snapshots of how everyone moved on, but I wanted a lot more details. We spend so much time with certain individuals, I wanted each of their stories to have a chapter’s worth of a conclusion.

The Dreamers quote

Amazing story telling, amazing writing. My favorite read of 2019 so far.

Book Review: Last Night in Montreal

Last Night in MontrealThis book came to me from a Twitter book rec thread.

I actually picked up a lot of really great books from that thread and I keep going back to it to see what else has been added. I immediately grabbed 3 books on Overdrive and have been steadily adding titles from this thread to my TBR on Goodreads.

What I Loved:

» @MollyMcKew was right when she described the writing as “haunting”
I enjoyed Station Eleven so I was kicking myself for not reading anything else by her. So this was the first book from that Twitter thread that I picked up and I read it immediately. I really love the way Emily St. John Mandel writes. It evokes a certain kind of mood and feeling that I can’t describe. Read Station Eleven and you’ll get what I mean.

» The mystery
Where is Lilia? Why is she running? Will Eli find her? What happens if he does find her? What happens if he doesn’t find her?

» Lilia’s name
If I do end up having a baby, I have both a girl and a boy name already. But if I somehow end up with two girls, Lilia will be at the top of the list for Baby Girl 2.

» Montreal
I didn’t know anything about Montreal until now. Is the city really so pro-French/anti-English? I’m curious and want to visit, but the locals will hate my English speaking. However, according to some reviews from people from Montreal this wasn’t a 100% accurate portrayal of the city. So I guess I’ll have to visit to judge for myself.

What I Wished For:

» More depth to Lilia
As is, she is giving me Manic Pixie Dream Girl vibes. Her need to run. Her habit of collecting and abandoning lovers everywhere she goes. Love-struck Eli chasing after her. The Eli chapters were very reminiscent of Q chasing Margo in Paper Towns.

» A character I could root for
I guess I was rooting for Michaela. But I really didn’t care much about any of them. At a some point, I realized I reading because I was enjoying the writing rather than the story itself.

» More Michaela. More of Lilia’s father. More of Simon.
Basically I wanted more of side characters. They were the ones who intrigued me the most. I wanted to see how Michaela went from who she was when we first meet her to who she is at the end.

Great writing, but not my favorite story or characters.