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Umm…hi again?

Hi there! I know I have a tendency to drop off the face of the planet, but I had high hopes last time. With only 2 classes left before graduation, I felt that it would be an okay time to go back to book blogging. Definitely was not the case. Anyways, I just wanted to post an update for the people who used to read my posts. I’m really happy to have met you, and I still read many of your posts even though this is the first time in forever that I’ve posted anything. I’m not sure where the future of this blog will go or if book blogging is even for me anymore. Maybe I’ll just use this as a place to write rambly reviews for my own record. I’m not completely sure yet. Posts will definitely be way sporadic if I do post again, though.

But yea! Thanks for checking out my blog, I’ll most likely see you all on Twitter lol!

-Justine

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Scythe by Neal Schusterman

Title:Scythe
Author: Neal Schusterman
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Content Warning: Character Deaths, Violence

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dashdivide“Without the threat of suffering, we can’t experience true joy.”

I’ve been eyeing this book for months but was finally convinced to pick up the audio book during the last Audible sale because I really liked the narrator’s voice. It was a fun read that urges you to think, but it never completely hit the mark for me.

In the world of Scythe, all of the world’s problems have been solved. Death isn’t permanent; aging can be undone; and poverty, sickness, and pain have been managed to the point of near extinction all thanks to the Thunderhead, an upgrade to the modern day Cloud. However, because the world’s problems have been solved, scythes are trained then chosen to permanently kill off people to reduce over population.

For the first time in the history of the scythdom, a Scythe has chosen two apprentices. Citra is protective, and strong-willed while Rowan is unsure but compassionate. During their apprenticeship they learn everything from how to unbiasedly choose their target to how to use a collection of weapons.

Like I said before, I had a lot of fun reading this. I loved learning about a world so far into the future that every problem seemed to be fixed, and I found it funny whenever someone couldn’t understand a mortal age (present day) concept. Unfortunately I also felt like there were a lot of worldly issues the author wanted to comment on, but he never fully explored each topic because it’s difficult to flesh out a perfect world. Something can always be improved. For example, you can tell which characters are “good” and “bad” but how can someone be better than someone else in a perfect world?

Speaking of good and bad, I also felt the world was too black and white. Again, you can tell which characters were the good guys and which characters were the bad guys. There was no in between. One was right and one was wrong, and there was nothing to suggest that there was more to them. Maybe they will be expanded on in the next books, but for now I feel like there was a missed opportunity.

Though I’m giving this 3.5 stars, I’m still going to continue on with the audio books. It’s such a good production and a quick listen!

3.5stars
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Frankly in Love by David Yoon – A Tearjerker on Family and Ethnic Identity

Title: Frankly In Love
Author: David Yoon
Publisher: Penguin Random House – Putnam
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Content Warning: Racism, Character Death, Grief

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“We doing okay, Frankie. You going college? Nice girl meeting? Make beautiful baby? That’s it. I die, oh Frankie-ya, you doing good, I smiling smiling. Final breath I taking before shuffle off this mortal coil.”

You know how people sometimes ask which books would you tell people to read if you want them to get to know you? If you want to get to know me, Frankly in Love is one of those books.

I buddy read this with Sandra from gotathingforthings, and I’m so glad I did because I would have DNF’d this at 100 pages if I hadn’t. I went into this book with the wrong mindset because it’s been marketed as a romcom when the romance isn’t really a huge part of the book. I thought I would be reading a story about a boy with strict Korean parents who falls in love with a girl outside his race and spends the whole story working around his parents. Eventually, the parents would see the error of their ways and everyone would live happily ever after…or something like that. But this is definitely not that, Frankly in Love is about family, ethnic identity, and finding your place in the world. Asian-Americans, you should definitely read this book!

It starts off with Frank Li, an incredibly book smart Korean-American senior in high school who’s studying for the SAT’S, an exam that will help determine which colleges he may get into. His parents are Korean immigrants who work at and own a grocery store, don’t speak English fluently, and have very traditional views. Because Frank was born and raised in America, he and his parents’ views often clash. Knowing this, and knowing his parents are racist against anyone who isn’t Korean, Frank becomes worried when he begins to date Brit, a white girl. As a result, he and his family and Korean friend, Joy, devise a plan to fake date in order to cover up their interracial relationships.

100 pages into this story, I wanted to DNF it. I felt the writing style was sporadic and full of way too many onomatopoeia that didn’t mesh well with me. Story wise, I could not stand Frank and his relationship with Brit. I am all for and have also been in an interracial relationship, but I didn’t like that Frank kept making excuses for Brit’s microaggressions because she was a “woke” white person and somethings she just “didn’t know about.” I also didn’t like that he had nothing good to say about his parents. It felt like Frank resented them for living in their own world and making it seem like everyone else had to fit in it. But luckily, Frank grows up.

As the story progresses Frank starts to see that though Brit may have educated herself, she is still on the outside looking in. Brit can empathize with being Asian-American, but it doesn’t shape her like it shapes Frank. He still doesn’t point this out to Brit, but at the very least he begins to ponder it. What really changes is how Frank views his parents. He starts to question why his parents work at a grocery store, what it was like for them to fall in love in Korea and move to America, and why they are so stubbornly Korean. They go from adults who provided for him but didn’t understand him, to people who struggled to create a better life for themselves and their family. Once Frank realizes this, he slowly starts to see the love in his parents’ work and actions.

This is another book I feel I can’t do justice. So many scenes and quotes are running through my mind and I keep walking away to think about them again. I am not Korean-American, but I am Filipino-American, and Frank’s relationship with his parents is spot on with my relationship with my parents. First, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but I have an amazing relationship with my parents. Growing up, my relationship with my parents was exactly like that of Frank and his parents: The parents provide so the kids can grow up better than they did. ‘Til this day, my parents take that “parents provide” thing seriously, and I have been spoiled rotten because of it. If my parents could give me the world, they would, and I love them so much for that.

But growing up, I didn’t see that that was what my parents were doing. I just saw that they weren’t affectionate with me like my friend’s parents were, and everything they did was wrong because everything everyone else did felt better. I pulled away from my parents and Filipino culture and became more “Americanized.” It took me years and a couple of pep talks from my parents to make me comfortable enough to wonder and care enough to ask my parents about who they are and what their life used to be like and why they are the way they are. And once I started asking those questions and getting some answers, my parents’ beliefs and mannerisms suddenly all made sense (That’s the less drama-filled version of how it went down anyways lol >.>). Again, I know this isn’t how it happens for everyone. I know a lot of Asian-Americans who choose to be or because of other circumstances are not connected with their parents or their roots, but this is how it was for me, and this is why I feel so connected to Frank’s story. His journey to becoming a balanced Korean-American is a lot like my experience trying to balance being Filipino and American. We both connected with our parents and then wanted to know more about our culture.

I did not expect to love this as much as I did. I even ranted about my complaints to my cousins and Sandra until about 200 pages in. But as I read on, Frank’s story resonated with me more and more, and I found myself crying at midnight because it hit so close to home. I highly recommend giving Frankly in Love a shot, and it’s a must read for Asian-Americans trying to connect with their parents and bicultural identity. It’s a new favorite of the year and possibly of all time for me!

4stars

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I received an ARC via the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review.Quotes were taken from an unfinished proof copy and may not be the same in the finished work. 

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Jade War by Fonda Lee – Green as F*ck

Content Warning: Violence, Torture, Abortion, Death, Substance Abuse

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“The clan is my blood and the pillar is its master.”

Note: This review contains major spoilers for Jade City and possible minor spoilers for Jade War.

Jade War review take 2!

Since I started blogging and “seriously” reviewing again, the one book I wish I already had a review for was Jade City. I obsessively flew through it in 2 days while on vacation and finished it in pure awe wondering when I would ever feel like that after finishing a book ever again. I love world building, and I love good characterization; and in Jade City, the world was its own character and the characters felt like people I actually know. Because I don’t want to make this review too long, I will be focusing mainly on the characters. However, Jade War expanded on everything done right in the first installment, and The Green Bone Saga is now easily one of my favorite series of all time.

Jade War takes place 16 months after the events of Jade City. No Peak and the Mountain are at war but publicly announce a truce while there is another war going on overseas. The war affects Kekon because with SNI, Jade is no longer only used by trained Kekonese. It’s now become an even more valuable commodity to the local and international governments as well as to the black markets. In Jade War, each clan must decide where to put their Jade as smugglers and foreign governments become more desperate for it. Though a truce has been called between the clans, each plot to become more politically powerful while they simultaneously try to destroy each other from the inside.  

The times are changing in Jade War, and that goes for clan leadership as well. After his brother’s death in Jade City, Hilo has become the reluctant Pillar of No Peak. While still more military savvy, Hilo has put in a ton of effort to become a worthy leader. He still gets into more fights than a Pillar should, and while he isn’t used to the political aspects of both the clans and government, he insists on being present to learn how to maneuver his way through new territory. To me, Hilo feels like the guy who everyone thinks will do something to upset a lot people but, in the end, ends up being a pretty decent person. I think the best description of Hilo comes from his wife, Wen:

“Her husband could be short sighted and stubborn; sometimes he hung on to strict principles or personal grudges that clouded his better judgement, but he possessed the most valuable quality in any person, especially a clan leader, which was the ability to put others first, no matter the prevailing opinion of the personal cost.”

Shae’s position has changed as well. While she wanted nothing to do with her family’s clan and jade in the beginning of the first book, Shae begins Jade War as the Weatherman of No Peak. Because of the truce between the clans, Shae’s role seems more important in Jade War because the war is now behind the scenes. Shae is intelligent, forward-thinking, and open minded; and because of her time in Espenia, she is more aware of the happenings outside of Kekon. While this gives her a noticeable advantage when dealing with the leaders of Kekon, these leaders are more traditional. Because of this, Shae must decide what customs and traditions she must follow, but she must also determine what customs and traditions need to change for the sake of her clan. During the chaos, she meets and dates a professor named Maro who lives his life outside the clans and encourages Shae to see that there is life outside of No Peak as well. Through her relationship with Maro, we see how Shae struggles to figure out who she is and what she feels is or isn’t worth fighting for.

As punishment for his behavior in the last book, Anden has been exhiled to another country. Anden’s storyline expands Fonda Lee’s world by introducing us to Espenia. The whole of Espenia is nothing like Kekon. The Kekonese Espenians have a Pillar but only loosely do they follow the Green Bone hierarchy. Contrary to what Anden previously thought, Jade is used outside of Kekon. However, Green Bones keep them hidden and train in secret since jade is illegal.

One thing I noticed about the worldbuilding is it heavily draws from real world history. In fact, some histories are only different in name and length of time. With that being said, Anden migrates from the Eastern world in Kekon to the Western world in Espenia and needs to adjust as a Kekonese immigrant. His first days in Espenia, he experiences large amounts of culture shock which lead him to trouble. For example, Anden does not speak Espenian, so he has to learn to navigate around the language barrier. He also gets into a fight expecting his opponent to be honorable and is surprised and confused when his opponent isn’t.

“When there’s a problem to be solved, the Espenian tries money first, then resorts to violence. The Kekonese tries violence first, then resorts to money.”

In Espenia, Anden also meets and casually sees an Espenian Pillar’s son named Cory. Their relationship presents the difference between immigrants and the children of immigrants. While Anden studied jade, knows its dangers, and respects its essence, Cory, like others born in Espenia, sees jade as more of a novelty used mostly in casual duals. Whereas Anden is greatly affected by the events back in Kekon because his family and everything he knows is still there, Cory remains detached because he has no ties to Kekon. While Anden lives Kekon in the present, Cory sees Kekon as part of his history, a place to visit and appreciate before he goes back home to Espenia. And finally, while Anden constantly worries about Espenia, Cory remains laid back because he doesn’t understand the Kekonese situation the way Anden, someone who was born and raised there, understands it.

Aside from the main cast, Fonda Lee has written some amazing supporting characters, namely the women. Aside from Shae, there are some strong women fighting through adversity and eager to leave their mark in the world. Ayt Mada, the Pillar of the Mountain, must guide her clan through the war while facing scrutiny for not having an heir, and Wen, Hilo’s wife, must prove her worth while unable to harness the power of jade.

We are also introduced to Zapunyo and the Uwiwan Islands. Even though I said I was mostly going to stick to the characters in this review, I wanted to mention how well Fonda Lee demonstrates colonization. In one scene, we see the Espenian military demanding more jade and attempting to convince Shae to be for the moving of Espenian soldiers into Kekon land in order to protect people and win the war. Not long after, we hear that a young Kekonese girl was raped by an Espenian soldier, and the Espenians have done nothing about it. The Espenians went into Kekon under the pretense of helping, but in reality, they used the land, resources, and indigenous people for their own gain. The long term after effects are illustrated through Zapunyo and the Uwiwas. Their islands were pillaged of their resources, and they were left with remnants of their colonizers and a debt to their “saviors.”

“The Uwiwans, Hilo thought, had the cunning look of a race that knew they were dependent on the might and wealth of outsiders and hated themselves for it.”

Then there is Bero. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I can’t stand Bero, but Bero is the dregs, the lowest of the low, desperate for just a piece of power. And desperate times call for desperate measures. All the other point of views are from positions of power, and Bero is the lone man at the bottom. I still can’t stand him, but I’m eager to see the commentary on privilege and power in the next book.

Like I said before, The Green Bone Saga is now one of my favorite series of all time. I usually read fantasy for the escapism, but every once in awhile there comes a fantasy that makes you confront and ponder the real world. That is this this series for me. I am sitting here finishing this review still thinking that I am nowhere near worthy to comment on something like this, but I am happy I tried in support of Fonda Lee and her works. Needless to say, I can’t wait for the next book, and it’s going to be a long 2 years until then!

5starsdivider
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 I was fortunate enough to trade for an ARC for this review. Quotes were taken from an unfinished proof copy and may not be the same in the finished work.

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TOP 10 TUESDAY: Cover Redesigns I Love

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl. Hop on over to their page and show them some love!

Hey everyone! I know that all I’ve been posting are T10T lately, but I’ve learned that I need a lot more time to review longer adult fantasy. I have about 4 paragraphs of my Jade War review to go, but it should be up on Thursday if you’re interested!

But until then, here are my top 10 favorite cover redesigns.

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Vicious by V.E. Schwab


A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin


Radio Silence by Alice Oseman


We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal


The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh


Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir


Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb


 Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

dividerThat’s all for now! I know some of these are just different editions or US vs. UK, but I still like one over the other lol. What’s a cover redesign or edition you love?

Cya! ^^

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July Book Haul

Hey everyone!

Today I present to you my July book haul. 12 physical books doesn’t seem that much to me, but I found out working at a library auto approves you for some eARC’s and I went a little download happy… Hope you enjoy!

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Traditional_Bookstores 

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Heartstopper: Volume 2 by Alice Oseman
Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson
Jade War by Fonda Lee ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Use Bookstores
Used_bookstore

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The Red Knight by Miles Cameron
The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron
The Dreadwyrm by Miles Cameron

Twitter Purchases
twitter_trade

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

ARC Trades
Arcs_traded

Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger
Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

NetGalley

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker
Crochet Cute Critters by Sarah Zimmerman
Fortuna Sworn y K.J. Sutton
Unverified by Kristin Giese

Edelweiss

Handle with Care by Helena Hunting
Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and More Prehistoric Amigurumi edited by Joke Vermeiren
Well Met by Jen DeLuca
Shadow Frost by Coco Ma
A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price
The King’s Questioner by Nikki Katz
Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers
Diamond City by Francesca Flores
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
If You Only Knew by Prerna Pickett
Glitch Kingdom by Sheena Boekweg
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

dividerHave you read any of these? Did you love or hate it? Is there anything you think I should read ASAP? I’d love to hear from you!

Cya! ^^

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August TBR – The N.E.W.T.S.

The Magical Readathon is a Harry Potter themed readathon created and hosted by Book Roast. Check her fun fun channel out!

Hey everyone!

Today I’m going to be sharing with you all my TBR for the N.E.W.T.S. I failed last year, but this year I WILL become a healer! I need to read a total of 10 books, but I am determined!

Before I get into this post, most of what I list are ARC’s of books that haven’t been published yet. I am very fortunate to have parents who support my decision to pursue an MLIS and am privileged to work at a library and be able to attend full librarian conferences which allow me to obtain these ARC’s.

Now to my TBR!

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Healer Requirements
E in Charms
E in Defense Against the Dark Arts
E in Herbology
E in Potions
E in Transfiguration


Healer Prompts

Charms A: Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover
The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

Charms E: Read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or book under 150 pages)
Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

Defense Against the Dark Arts A: Book that’s black under the dust jacket
Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Defense Against the Dark Arts E: Gilderoy’s memory charm – (grab a pen! first book that you remembered just now from your TBR!)
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

 Herbology A: Mandrake! Quick, put your headphones on! Listen to an audiobook (if not – green cover)
Stormrise  by Jillian Boehme

Herbology E: Read a book between 350-390 pages
Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell

Potions A: Pollyjuice potion: read your friend’s favorite book!
Nevernight  by Jay Kristoff

Potions E: House ingredient: book with a cover in your Hogwarts house color
American Royals by Katharine McGee

Transfiguration A: Read a book with LQBTQA+ representation
There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

Transfiguration E: Read a book that’s not a first in the series
Frankly in Love by David Yoon


Extra TBR

Handle with Care by Helena Hunting
Heartstopper: Volume Two by Alice Oseman
Fortuna Sworn by K. J. Sutton
Unverified by Kristen Giese
Well Met by Jen DeLuca

dividerAre you joining the Magical Readathon? What books are you looking forward to reading this month? I’d love to hear from you!

Cya! ^^


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