10.14.2017

The TBR Tag



Just in case you didn't already know that I like lists and organization, I decided to do the TBR Tag to prove it!


The Questions:
1) How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
2) Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?
3) How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
4) A book that's been on your TBR the longest
5) A book you recently added to your TBR
6) A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover
7) A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading
8) An unpublished book on your TBR that you're excited for
9) A book on your TBR that basically everyone's read but you
10) A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you
11) A book on your TBR that you're dying to read
12) How many books are on your Goodeads TBR shelf?

10.13.2017

A Bit of an Escape | Friday Reads


This week has been... well, let's just say I'm super glad it's Friday. I think I've made the massive mental health mistake of being overly attached to my phone and to the news this week and it's made me a little tense. So with my reading this weekend, I'm really looking forward to escaping from reality, even if it's just for a little while.

Beren and Lúthien / J.R.R. Tolkien
Look what I managed to find at the library! Beren and Luthien was top of my most anticipated new releases of 2017, which should tell you just how excited I am to have gotten my hands on a copy. This is a book pulled together by Tolkien's son Christopher and is part of the mythology of Middle Earth. Do I need to say more?

Every Heart a Doorway / Seanan McGuire
Every Heart a Doorway definitely made the rounds on BookTube last year. From what I understand, it features a school for children who have visited magical worlds like Alice from Alice in Wonderland and the Pevensies from Narnia. Not only does this sound like exactly the kind of story I need right now, but at under 200 pages I predict this will be the perfect weekend read.


How about you? What are you reading this weekend?

10.12.2017

September Wrap Up



I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I am to have finally, finally broken through the weird reading slump that I have been in all year. Why did things finally click in September? Well, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's because things just have to go right during your birthday month!

Books Read:
Under the Tuscan Sun / Frances Mayes
> Read the review
Days Without End / Sebastian Barry
> Watch the review
The Jester Lost His Jingle / David Saltzman
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn / Mark Twain

Books Mentioned:
Where the Past Begins / Amy Tan
Five Came Back / Mark Harris

10.03.2017

Victorian October | TBR



Happy October, everyone! It's really hard to believe how fast this year is flying by. This month I am happy to announce that I am participating in Victober, a month-long readathon focused on celebrating Victorian literature. As I somehow managed to skip this period of literature almost entirely during both high school and my undergraduate degree, I'm really excited to dive right into it.

Books Mentioned:
The Professor / Charlotte Brontë
Great Expectations / Charles Dickens
Dracula / Bram Stoker

Are you participating this Victober? And even if you're not, what's your favorite Victorian novel?

9.30.2017

Days Without End | Sebastian Barry







TITLE / Days Without End

AUTHOR / Sebastian Barry

PUBLISHER / Viking

DATE OF PUBLICATION / January 24, 2017

NO. OF PAGES / 259

STARRED RATING / ★★

9.15.2017

Birthday Reading | Friday Reads



This past week has been one of my best reading weeks this year: I completed two books and hope to ride this momentum through this weekend. And I'm really hoping to get a lot of reading done this weekend because I'm finally taking the weekend off! It's my 26th birthday on Sunday (geez, am I really going to be 26?) and all I really want to do to celebrate is spend some time with my family, eat good food, and do some relaxing reading. Here's what I'm hoping to get through!

Five Came Back / Mark Harris
This is my nonfiction read of the moment. It's an examination of the five big American directors who got involved with the war effort during World War II and chose to turn their cameras on the conflict and so far, I'm definitely enjoying it. Unfortunately, I'm not too familiar with the directors or films Harris has mentioned so far and I can only hope that isn't taking away from my enjoyment of the book. On the plus side, when I've finally got through it, I'll have a whole list of films to check out!

History of Wolves / Emily Fridlund
History of Wolves will be my second Man Booker read of the year. I finished Sebastian Barry's Days Without End earlier this week, which was a fantastic reminder of why I follow the Prize: the nominated books always seem to resonate with me. I'm hoping for equally great things from History of Wolves, which was the only other Man Booker read readily available at my library. That being said, I've heard pretty mixed things about this one, so we'll see how I go.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn / Mark Twain
Like I mentioned above, I just finished Days Without End, a lot of which reminded me a lot of Mark Twain's masterpiece. As soon as I made that connection I was hit with a voracious craving for some Huck Finn and so I've decided to reread (for the millionth time) what has become one of my favorite classics. And as a birthday present to myself, I decided to treat myself to the audiobook version read by Elijah Wood!

9.13.2017

Under the Tuscan Sun | Frances Mayes











TITLE / Under the Tuscan Sun

AUTHOR / Frances Mayes

PUBLISHER / Broadway Books

DATE OF PUBLICATION / September 2, 1997

NO. OF PAGES / 299

STARRED RATING / ★★★




"Where you are is who you are. The further inside you the place moves, the more your identity is intertwined with it. Never casual, the choice of place is the choice of something you crave."

I first saw the film Under the Tuscan Sun when I was around 11 or 12 years old, about five years before I took my first trip overseas to visit Italy with my high school choir. I absolutely fell in love with the film, with the romance of buying an old, crumbling house in some foreign country with the intention of quite literally building a new life for yourself from the ground up. I was enamored with the people Frances encountered, with the food, with the atmosphere of it all. And I would be completely lying if I said that I wasn't expecting just as much from the book, if not more.

Which brings me nicely to my first point: this memoir and the film are two completely different things. And while I found this a bit disappointing and disorienting at first, I can quite confidently say now that I am very glad that this was the case. For starters, it was easy enough to separate the book and movie in my mind and, most importantly, it meant that any frustrations I had with the book didn't affect my love of the film. In the film, Frances is a writer reeling from a sudden divorce who takes solitary refuge in the Tuscan countryside. In reality and in the memoir, Frances is a frequent traveler, an already established lover of Italy, and while her first marriage did fall apart, she buys the crumbling Bramasole estate with her then boyfriend Ed. In this case, the art of the film was inspired by life but did not mirror it exactly.

Now for my second point: Under the Tuscan Sun differs from other memoirs I've read in that there's no real "plot." Generally speaking, the memoir has a rough, chronological structure, but the narrative takes a wandering path at a slow pace. Rather than driving hard and fast towards some grand point or life lesson, Mayes leads readers through her meandering thoughts and memories as though we were touring her garden. She picks up side stories and digressions along the way, something that had many of the Goodreads reviewers at their wit's end.

Maybe these reviewers were fans of the film and were hoping for a bit more dramatic action, but as for me, I actually found this narrative style quite enjoyable. It became the perfect evening read. Mayes doesn't require much concentration and her lovely descriptions of life in the Tuscan countryside have a similar effect to a mug of tea and a warm blanket on a chilly night. And as she warns readers herself towards the beginning of the book, Under the Tuscan Sun was meant as a free form journal and record of sorts and I, for one, think it reads exactly as such.

My final point may actually be more of a warning: this isn't necessarily travel-writing for those who have never been to Italy before. Although Mayes does describe the quaintness of the Italian countryside very well, Under the Tuscan is not a book about traveling or experiencing the sights and sounds of Italy. It's a memoir about renovating a house and starting a new chapter of life. It's about deciding to take a leap of faith and all of the rewards that may follow.

By no means is this a perfect book. It's not groundbreaking, in any sense of the word. Mayes does ramble at times and I can't say I was inspired to read every single word with the greatest intensity of concentration. In fact, I found her tendency to throw in Italian words here and there fairly annoying by the end of it all. However, if you are looking for a quiet, beautifully descriptive read about the magic of creating something with your own two hands, Under the Tuscan Sun might be just the book for you.

About Under the Tuscan Sun | About Frances Mayes

Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid to review or feature this book and this review is my 100% honest opinion. This is not a sponsored post.

9.12.2017

The Willoughby Book Club | Unboxing




You guys know I would never share anything with you that I didn't believe in one hundred and twenty percent, so when I say that the Willoughby Book Club is the first subscription box I've felt genuinely excited about, I really mean it! It's the best of both worlds: beautiful new books picked just for you and beautiful books sent to children in need. What more can you ask for?

More about the WBC's subscription boxes | Use my affiliate link for 10% off!


Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Willoughby Book Club affiliate program. I will receive a small commission from any purchase made through my affiliate link, but was not otherwise paid to review or feature this subscription service. This review is 100% my own opinion.

9.11.2017

The Happiness Zine





Just on the off chance that you haven't seen me banging on about this on social media, I created a zine! More specifically, it's a mini downloadable art zine full of things that make me happy.

Interested in checking out the zine for yourself? You can find it HERE.

9.09.2017

August and Bout of Books 20 Wrap Up




I finally, finally feel like I've gotten my reading groove back. I know I've said that before (many times, I'm sure), but I really mean it this time. And I think I have Ms. Elizabeth Gaskell and her beautiful novel Wives and Daughters to thank for it!

Books Read
Crazy Rich Asians / Kevin Kwan
> Read the review
Northanger Abbey / Jane Austen
Wives and Daughters / Elizabeth Gaskell

Currently Reading
Pigeon-Blood Red / Ed Duncan
Five Came Back / Mark Harris

8.25.2017

Crazy Rich Asians | Kevin Kwan






TITLE / Crazy Rich Asians

AUTHOR / Kevin Kwan

PUBLISHER / Anchor

DATE OF PUBLICATION / May 20, 2014

NO. OF PAGES / 527

STARRED RATING / ★★.5


8.21.2017

Bout of Books 20 TBR




Alright, it's Bout of Books time! Here's a quick look at the books I'm hoping to knock off my TBR this week.

Books Mentioned:
Pigeon-Blood Red / Ed Duncan
Under the Tuscan Sun / Frances Mayes
Hawaii / James Michener
Northanger Abbey / Jane Austen
The Garden Party and Other Stories / Katherine Mansfield
Are You My Mother? / Alison Bechdel
Unaccustomed Earth / Jhumpa Lahiri

8.15.2017

Bout of Books 20

Bout of Books

After missing the last couple of rounds, I'm happy to announce that I will be participating in the upcoming 20th round of the Bout of Books readathon! After the craziness that was BookTubeAThon last month, my reading has definitely slowed down a bit. I'm hoping Bout of Books will help me finish out the month strong!

Sign ups run through Tuesday, August 22nd, so head on over to the Bout of Books website if you'd like to participate.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 21st and runs through Sunday, August 27th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 20 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
--From the Bout of Books team

I'll be sharing my TBR later this week.

8.13.2017

New Books (A Summer Haul)


I think it's safe to say that I've been exercising a lot of restraint over my book buying inclinations lately. As someone who consumes a lot of bookish content and is constantly getting recommendations, I'd say this is a pretty admirable feat! Plus, it means that all of books I have picked up are books I am genuinely interested in.

Books Mentioned:
Pigeon-Blood Red / Ed Duncan
Human Interest / Valerie Bandura
Where the Past Beings: A Writer's Memoir / Amy Tan
A Few Good Women / Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
Goodbye to All That / Robert Graves

8.07.2017

July and BookTubeAThon Wrap Up



Just when I was beginning to lose hope for my reading this year, July turned out to be quite the productive reading month! The credit for this suddenly uptake in my reading must be given to the one and only BookTubeAthon reading event. And while I've just realized that I never actually posted my TBR for the event here on the blog, I hope you enjoy hearing about what I read all the same.

Books Read
Common Sense / Thomas Paine
The Tale of Aypi / Ak Welsapar
The Girl Who Is Getting Married / Aoko Matsuda
Moonraker / Ian Fleming

Currently Reading
Are You My Mother? / Alison Bechdel
The Garden Party and Other Stories / Katherine Mansfield

8.01.2017

What I Read Growing Up



I was very lucky to grow up in a household where my parents not only encouraged my brother and I to read, but were also very open to buying us books. As if we didn't get enough to read in our bimonthly library trips, we used to spend hours in our local bookshops, agonizing over which book we would be bringing home. And when we got those books home, we treated them like gold: read them individually, read them together, read them aloud, read them over and over.  And, as you can see, I've managed to hang on to quite a few of them!

One reason these books means so much to me is that we weren't allowed to watch television as children. So with the exception of the occasional Disney or Studio Ghibli film, all of the stories and characters I was exposed to came to me through my books. So I've taken as best care of them as I can and will treasure them forever as my first lessons in storytelling and my first windows into other worlds.

7.11.2017

June Wrap Up



I'm back again with another two-book reading month. Unfortunately, trying to get through The Impossible Fairy Tale really put a damper on my reading in June because I felt like I shouldn't read anything else until it was finished and reviewed, but then dreaded picking it back up. But now that it is done and dusted, I'm hoping my July reading will fare much better!

Books Read
Live and Let Die / Ian Fleming

Currently Reading
Northanger Abbey / Jane Austen
Under the Tuscan Sun / Frances Mayes

7.01.2017

The USS Midway











A few weeks ago, my family and I decided to take a trip down to San Diego for Father's Day. We surprised him with a trip to the decommissioned aircraft carrier the USS Midway. And, of course, I took a few pictures!

If you've been reading my blog since my 2015 trip to the USS Iowa Battleship, you're probably wondering if my family and I have some sort of military connection. Well, sort of. My dad's father was in the Army Corps of Engineers back in the day and actually worked on some of the Midway's safety features. Both of my parents have a real appreciation for American history and I personally am really interested in military history. So trips like these are fun for all of us!

I would highly recommend this as a day trip. If you're interested in American or military history, this is a must see. Not only does it have a fantastic audio tour on what life was like on the ship throughout its decades of active duty, but it also has a wide selection of the historical aircraft used by the US Navy. You can see the kind of fighter jets used in films like Top Gun, sit in a camouflaged helicopter, and even sit in a few cockpits.

And if you're just hoping to get your kids excited about history, you can reward them at the end of the day with a spin in a flight simulator!





6.29.2017

Mid-Year Check In | 2017



Seeing as it's the end of June, I think I can finally make it official: I'm having a really rough reading year! I don't know what's going on, but I cannot seem to make myself sit down and finish a book. I've gotten into a better reading habit over the past week or so, so hopefully, the second half of 2017 will be better for my reading!

Don't forget to check out Retribution Binary by Ruth Baumann.

6.22.2017

My Dream Reading Space




I share a lot of my interests with the Internet: journaling, freelancing, films, and of course, reading. However, one thing I never really share with you guys is just how much I love interior design and decorating. I love how you can transform a space just with furniture and a few decor items. In fact, if I ever was to go back to school, I would seriously consider getting a degree in interior design.

So when Arhaus.com reached out to me to see if I would write a post about my dream reading space, I was super excited by the opportunity to combine my love of interiors with my love for reading. So I've scoured Arhaus and some of my favorite home furnishings brands and have pulled together a few things I personally would love to have in my dream reading space.


Seating
I've always liked the idea of a window bench, but they're not always the most comfortable place to sit and read for hours. So in my dream reading space, I would prefer an armchair like (1) this one from Cost Plus World Market. I love this grey, slightly textured fabric, and as someone with short legs, the matching ottoman is an absolute essential!

The reason I prefer an armchair is that you get the comfort of a couch but with the placement options of a chair. As someone who likes to switch their furniture around every so often, I think it's important to get pieces that can be used in a variety of locations. I also love to get furniture in neutral colors so I can add pops of color and pattern with accessories like this (2) pillow. I'm really into oranges and yellows at the moment, which is why this  (3) yellow knit throw from West Elm caught my eye. Even though I live in sunny and warm Southern California, I'd pick a chunky knit over a thin woven throw any day!

Essentials
Of course, every reading nook needs some bookshelves! My dream bookshelf scenario would include not only shelves all along the walls but also shelves with glass doors. I know, I know, why would I want to put a glass door between me and all my lovely books? Because of dust, that's why!

I found (1) these shelves on Arhaus.com and kind of fell in love. Not only do I really love that they have glass doors, but I also love that the thin wooden details along the front of the glass doors remind me of traditional Japanese sliding doors. Am I the only one that sees it? Anyways, I can imagine a bunch of these stacked up against the wall opposite my chair, so that I can see all my books as I sit by my window!

Now, I do a lot of my reading at night, so this means that I need a good light. Thankfully, Arhaus has quite a huge lighting section and it was really hard to pick just one! In this dream reading space scenario, I'm picturing hanging (2) this kind of old-fashioned pendant light right above my little armchair for the perfect nighttime reading light.

Extras
One thing I've learned about myself over the past couple of years is that I cannot read and eat at the same time. I either end up with food all over my book or so completely distracted that I have to go back later and reread the same passage. But I'm a big believer in a cup of tea with my reading, which means that my dream reading space has to have a place for me to place my mug!

At first, I was thinking of a slim side table, but then I came across (1) this amazing coffee table made out of petrified wood. I personally really love incorporating tree stumps into my home (I actually have a stump with a face carved into it on my hearth right now!). It brings a little bit of the outdoors in, softens a more modern, minimalist look and is actually one of my favorite design quirks. So yes, this amazing tree stump coffee table would be going in my dream reading space.

Because I wouldn't want to ruin such a beautiful table, I would place my mugs on (3) these crystal coasters from Anthropologie. And as for the mugs themselves, I would love a few (2) clear mugs like you see above. My grandmother used to have a bunch of small, clear mugs and now every time I drink tea out of anything clear I can't help but think of her!


So those are some of the elements I would love to have in my dream reading space or window nook. I think it's a pretty good reflection of my personal style: a bit simple, but with a few quirky and natural elements as well. As readers, I know we've all dreamed about our ideal reading nooks or home libraries. So my question to you is: what's one thing you'd love to have in your dream reading space?




Disclaimer: This post was created in cooperation with Arhaus.com to be featured on their social media channels. All opinions and product selections were my own. This post was NOT sponsored.

5.26.2017

Memorial Day Weekend | Friday Reads



Ah, finally, a three day weekend. That means sleeping in, eating lots of great food, and, of course, time to catch up on reading. Most of the month I've been making my way through the audiobook of Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters, but this weekend I plan to focus on catching up on some review copies.

The Impossible Fairy Tale / Han Yujoo, translated by Janet Hong
I'm reading this to review over on April Magazine and I have to admit, I wasn't really sure what to think when I first started reading. It wasn't drawing me in, though I can't really pinpoint why. Thankfully, it's started to pick a little because my review is due next week!

The Girl Who Is Getting Married / Aoko Matsuda, translated by Angus Turvill
This is one of the beautiful Keshiki chapbooks I shared a few weeks ago and I am so very excited to read this one. The story's narrator is going to visit a friend from high school and apparently we get a new memory of their past with every floor he or she climbs. And this is only about 36 pages, so I will definitely be devouring The Girl Who Is Getting Married in one sitting.

Under the Tuscan Sun / Frances Mayes
I was supposed to have a review of this book up back at the end of March, so to say I need to start Under the Tuscan Sun is a massive understatement! But I'm not really worried because not only is it the memoir that inspired my favorite chick flick ever ( I love me some Diane Lane), but it also seems the perfect book to transition from spring to summer.


If you're based in the States, a very happy Memorial Day to you. What are you planning on reading this weekend?

5.20.2017

Asian American Author Recommendations | Part II



Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! My absolute favorite way to honor my own Asian American heritage is by celebrating Asian American creatives of all kinds.  So hopefully you guys are able to find some authors and books that sound interesting on this latest installment of recommendations!

Books and Authors Mentioned:
Shortcomings / Killing and Dying / Adrian Tomine
> Watch the review
Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone / Sequoia Nagamatsu
> Watch the review
The Woman Warrior / Maxine Hong Kingston
> Read the review
Farewell to Manzanar / Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
The Buddha in the Attic / Julie Otsuka
> Watch the review
Do Not Say We Have Nothing / Madeleine Thien
> Watch the review
Sarong Party Girls / Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

If you're looking for even more recommendations for Asian American authors to check out, head on over to my first Asian American Author Recommendations video.

5.10.2017

Bookshelf Tour & Life Update





If it seems like I've been a bit absent over the past couple of weeks or so, that's because I was in the process of moving! There was seemingly endless packing, furniture shopping, and lugging lots of heavy things. But I am finally all set up in my new apartment, which means that all my books are now (mostly) organized in their new homes.

Hope you enjoyed getting a look at my shelves. Do you like to organize your books by specific genres, categories, or authors? Or do you actively avoid any form of organization? I'd love to know!

5.02.2017

Books I'll (Probably) Never Read | Original Tag




I can't believe I've been on BookTube for four years and have never created an original tag before! I've been binge watching beauty and lifestyle videos lately and came across the concept of the anti-haul, which ended up inspiring this video.

Even if you don't make videos, I'd love to read some of your answers in the comments of this post! Check out the questions and feel free to drop me an answer.

The Questions:
1) A really hyped book you're not interested in reading?
2) A series you won't start/won't be finishing?
3) A classic that you're just not interested in?
4) Any genres you never read?
5) A book on your shelves you'll probably never actually read?

4.24.2017

The Keshiki Collection | Strangers Press

 



Are these not the most beautiful book covers you've ever seen? Behold the wonder that is the complete Keshiki set from Strangers Press, a chapbook collection translating and highlighting "eight of the most exciting writers working in Japan today."

I discovered Strangers Press a few months ago through their Twitter account. They're based in the UNESCO City of Literature Norwich and are all about publishing "the finest literature in translation." I practically jumped with joy when I saw that their current offering was all translations of new voices in Japanese fiction.

As I just received these chapbooks and haven't gotten a chance to crack them open (past admiring their French flaps, of course) yet, I can't really recommend them. However, if you love beautiful books or Japanese literature and you want the full set, I would recommend grabbing one before they are all gone!

I'm actually thinking of doing a video on the entire collection once I've actually read them all, but for now let's just admire the beauty and genius of these cover designs.


Check out the Strangers Press website | Get the full Keshiki set

4.21.2017

#TomeTopple Wrap Up


One day, I will post a readathon wrap up and will actually be pleased with the amount of reading I got done. Unfortunately, that day is not today!

Books Mentioned:
Hawaii / James A. Michener
The Explosion Chronicles / Yan Lianke

4.20.2017

Your Name | 君 の 名 は Film Review



Something I didn't mention in the video for sake of time was that seeing Your Name was actually my first time experiencing anime in theatres and honestly, I can't wait to do it again. It was such an immersive experience what with the incredible soundtrack and it was really nice to watch anime in a group of people who also love anime.

If you can't tell in the video, I absolutely loved Your Name and would highly recommend that you go see it even if you think it's not your kind of anime. And don't forget to check out the soundtrack!

4.14.2017

#TomeTopple Check In | Friday Reads




I probably didn't even need to take a picture of this week's Friday Reads, because it's pretty much the same as last week! I'm still persevering through my #TomeTopple TBR, though I have decided to set aside Our Mutual Friend for now. I'm also partway through Great Expectations and I think that taking on two of Charles Dickens' novels at once is just way too ambitious.

Hawaii / James A. Michener
I've been making rather slow progress through this massive tome, but I'm really surprised at how much I'm enjoying it. So far as I can tell, each "chapter" is actually the length of a decent-sized novel and is set in a different period of time. All chapters, however, center around the Hawaiian islands and the people who've inhabited them over the centuries. It's like getting a bunch of mini novels in one and so far I'm more than happy to keep reading.

The Explosion Chronicles / Yan Lianke
I plan on finally picking this up this weekend and I honestly cannot wait. Despite it's making it to the Man Booker International Prize Longlist, I haven't heard many people talking about The Explosion Chronicles and the few reviews I have found have only intrigued me more.

The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles / Kij Johnson
Lately I've really been craving some Kij Johnson, but I have so much reading on my plate right now that I can't commit to reading yet another novel. So instead I thought I'd take a crack at her novella The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles, which you can get free on Tor.com. From what I can tell, it sounds fairly similar to Fudoki and this, of course, makes me super excited to finally get to it!


So that's what I'll be reading this Easter weekend. Happy Easter if you practice and happy reading!

4.13.2017

I'm on Patreon!


I am incredibly excited to announce that I am now on Patreon! This means that you can now help make more videos and blog posts possible.

Patreon is a really incredible place for creators, artists, and anyone else with a "nontraditional" career or hobby to gain a monthly income. As someone who freelances and whose monthly earnings can vary quite a bit, I find the idea of any kind of steady monthly income is incredibly appealing.

Of course, I know that it is a lot to ask of you, my viewers and readers. I am already so grateful for the time you're willing to spend watching and reading my content and for the amazing, insightful comments you leave me. So trust me when I say that I have put a lot of time and effort into creating rewards that I think are fun and worth every cent of your pledges.

If you'd like to find out out more, please feel free to head on over to my Patreon page!

4.07.2017

My #TomeTopple TBR | Friday Reads



If you've noticed my slight absence from the blog lately, you probably won't be surprised to hear that I've been struggling through a bit of blogger's-block. To get back into the groove and hopefully on some sort of schedule, I thought I'd start doing Friday Reads posts. And what a better way to kick things off than by sharing my TBR for the #TomeTopple Readathon?

Be sure to check out Sam's announcement video and let me know what you're reading if you decide to participate!

Books Mentioned:
Our Mutual Friend / Charles Dickens
Hawaii / James A. Michener
The Explosion Chronicles / Yan Lianke


The official #TomeTopple announcement video | Check out @Tome_Topple on Twitter

4.06.2017

March Wrap Up



So far, two books a month has become my monthly average in 2017. However, I've recently got the reading bug back in a bad way, so hopefully I'll tackle more than two reads in April!

Books Read:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid
Post Mortem / Patricia Cornwall

Currently Reading:
Great Expectations / Charles Dickens

3.11.2017

February Wrap Up


With one audiobook and one poetry chapbook completed, February was another light reading month.

Books Read:
The Essential Koran / Thomas Cleary
Between the World and Me / Ta-Nehisi Coates
Perceived Distance from Impact / Kamden Hilliard

Currently Reading:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid

3.08.2017

Your International Women's Day Reading


I'm a firm believer that there are the perfect books for every occasion and International Women's Day is no exception. Whether you're taking the day to participate in #DayWithoutAWoman or you're looking for something to read on your lunch break, here are some inspiring reads to remind you just how amazing women can be.

The Woman Warrior - Maxine Hong Kingston
For those of us in the US and other western countries, it can be easy to forget that daughters are not celebrated in every corner of the world. In The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston examines a clashing of cultures where the old world of China and the new ways of the US meet in her female body. Part myth, part family history, it is a captivating portrait of the complexities of the Chinese-American identity.
> Read the review

The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka
Most history books only laud the achievements and bravery of men and in many ways The Buddha in the Attic is a response to that. She illuminates the incredible courage of the 19th and 20th centuries' Japanese picture brides, women who left behind everything they knew to join husbands they'd never met before in the US. These women speak as a chorus of hardship and suffering, determination and the unshakeable bonds of family.
> Watch the review

Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own - Kate Bolick
What is a woman's ultimate goal: happiness or marriage? Are those two mutually exclusive? While Kate Bolick doesn't have all the answers to these very loaded questions, she does take the time to examine the course of her own, happily unmarried life. And she does so by investigating the female writers who have helped to shape her understanding of herself and the kind of life she wants. Spinster is one woman's love letter to the most important female minds in her life.
> Read the review

My Beloved World - Sonia Sotomayor
You can't talk about inspiring women without mentioning Sonia Sotomayor, just the third women to ever be named to the US Supreme Court and the first ever Hispanic Justice. My Beloved World is a memoir about family, learning, and all the amazing things you can achieve through hard work and dedication.

The Girls of Atomic City - Denise Kiernan
There's kind of an unspoken rule in my family: if you want something done, ask one of the women. The Girls of Atomic City tells the tale of the women that helped the US Miliary get shit done during the race for atomic arms in World War II. Follow the young women who left their families for pop-up "atomic cities" in the hopes of gaining some independence and helping their country.

3.04.2017

Winter Book Haul



Okay, I did not realize just how many books I'd acquired until I was listing out all the titles. At least I didn't buy them all at once!

Books Mentioned:
The Housekeeper and the Professor / Yoko Ogawa
The Lie Tree / Frances Harding
At the Mouth of the River of Bees / Kij Johnson
The Art of Miyazaki's Spirited Away
How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy / Orson Scott Card
The Buried Giant / Kazuo Ishiguro
The God of Small Things / Arundhati Roy
The Samurai's Garden / Gail Tsukiyama
Empress Orchid / Anchee Min
Stubborn Twig / Lauren Kessler
Lipstick Jihad / Zadeh Moaveni
The Year of Magical Thinking / Joan Didion
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time / Mark Haddon
Atonement / Ian McEwan
The Secret History / Donna Tart
Crazy Rich Asians / Kevin Kwan
The Audacity of Hope / Barack Obama
Perceived Distance from Impact / Kamden Hilliard
Retribution Binary / Ruth Baumann
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story / Alexander Freed
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel / James Luceno
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid
Drifting House / Krys Lee
Born a Crime / Trevor Noah

Have you read any of these? Which one should I pick up first?

2.19.2017

My 2017 Bullet Journal





After one year of bullet journaling, I feel pretty confident in saying that this is the only planning system for me. I decided to treat myself to a fancy new journal to use through 2017 and thought you guys might like a peek inside!

Materials Mentioned:

2.15.2017

#Diverseathon & January Wrap Up



If you saw my last video, it'll be no surprise to you that I didn't get as much reading done in January as I would have liked. So I'd like to offer another huge thank you to the hosts of this last round of #Diverseathon for getting me back into the groove of things.

Books Read:
The Buddha in the Attic / Julie Otsuka
Born a Crime / Trevor Noah
The Essential Koran / Thomas Cleary
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid

2.14.2017

Born a Crime | Trevor Noah










TITLE / Born a Crime

AUTHOR / Trevor Noah

PUBLISHER / Doubleday Canada

DATE OF PUBLICATION / November 15, 2016

NO. OF PAGES / 304

STARRED RATING / ★★★.5


I listened to Born a Crime on audiobook over the course of a single work week and, boy, was that a mistake. Trevor Noah had me chuckling on more than one occasion and trying to smother my laughs into ill-timed snorts.

This shouldn't have been a surprise to me. I've recently discovered Noah's stand up comedy and, between that and his razor-sharp wit on The Daily Show, have become a real fan of his. I enjoy that he's not only able to see below the surface of the world around him but that he is also able to find the humor in it all. So when I learned that he had written a memoir of his time growing up mixed-race in South Africa, I had to pick it up.

Of course, if you're not a fan of Noah's stand up or only know him within the context of The Daily Show, you might be wondering why on earth you should read his memoir. I can give you a couple of reasons.

First of all, I have never felt so transported by a piece of nonfiction in my life. Noah paints a really vivid, vibrant, and visceral portrait of South Africa. I could really visualize the street corners he hung out on, the streets and alleys he ran through to escape from trouble. From the township to the multitude of languages, if Born a Crime is a love letter to Noah's mother, it's also a love letter to South Africa.

Which brings me to my second point: this is a book that examines post-apartheid South Africa from the inside. As much as this is Noah's coming of age story, it is impossible to separate the man and comedian he becomes from the racial, social, and political world he grew up in. As a fan of his work, I found it incredibly interesting to see the experiences from which he has gained his sometimes uncanny ability to cut through the crap and see the real heart of the issue.

As someone who is mixed-race myself, I was also really intrigued to realize that certain aspects of the mixed-race experience are universal. Although Noah's stories were obviously set against the backdrop of the extreme racial divide created by apartheid, some of the stories he told could have been lifted from my own life.

And finally, if you still need a push, read this because Trevor Noah is one heck of a storyteller. Each life episode is structured like a bit from one of his standup sets: they start off anecdotally, pull in some interesting cultural facts, and crescendo to an emotional high towards the end. Not all of the stories Noah shares are funny, but all of them ring with a real genuine sincerity and respect for experiences and characters he shares.

The only reason I have denied this book just half a star is that, sometimes, the organization of the memoir seemed a tad random. Rather than following a strict chronological structure, Noah jumps around to different moments of his life and this does occasionally get confusing. And yet, after reading the extremely poignant ending, I couldn't imagine the book structured any other way.

Now, I'm not the only one saying great things about Born a Crime. Just this last weekend Noah picked up two NAACP awards for the book. And if you're not yet convinced that this is a memoir worth reading, I guess there is little else I can say except, once more, read it. Seriously, read it and I promise you'll have no regrets.

2.07.2017

January was... weird.



I know for a fact that I'm not the only one who found January of 2017 to be very disorienting and difficult to get through. It was also a month of inspiring social movements in which we saw that passion and massive protests can actually get stuff done.

So I think it's fair to say that January was one hell of a weird month.

2.02.2017

The Buddha in the Attic | Julie Otsuka










TITLE / The Buddha in the Attic

AUTHOR / Julie Otsuka

PUBLISHER / Anchor

DATE OF PUBLICATION / March 20, 2012

NO. OF PAGES / 129

STARRED RATING / ★★