I’m not someone who picks up non-fiction often even though I want to. That changed with this book.
While this book was on my TBR for a long time, I didn’t pick it up until recently when it was highly recommended by multiple people online because of current scenarios. I’ll be honest, I only know things about what’s happening in US and UK because of what trends and from books.
That’s still a lot, but also not that much because I’ve been mostly reading romance, which don’t touch on current events or heavy topics often.
Not to mention, I know more about racism in USA than UK because UK racism doesn’t rise on social media often.
Hence, this book was my first introduction to racism in the UK. And it was my first book where the racism was broken down into different sections and explained just how they all come together to oppress people.
Until now, I’ve only read non-fiction books which were memoirs and autobiographies. So this was also my first non-fiction book about a specific topic which talks in-depth, places facts on the table, and provides explanations and arguments for everything. And I realized that I like this kind of non-fiction more.
I thought I’ll probably read it slowly but I flew through it. It was addicting. The rush of new information, in-depth analysis, history recounts etc. was very interesting.
This book also has REALLY GOOD LINES. I could not stop highlighting things. If I could, I’d probably tab whole sections in places. There were also times when I wanted to tab a few lines but I couldn’t decide which lines to highlight exactly. The section overall conveyed the meaning which can’t be properly captured in a few lines.
So yeah, this book was brilliant.
And since I highlighted so much, I wanted to share the quotes and let them convince you to pick up this book instead of just reviewing myself with my meager words compared to the book’s.
[…] how often history would have to repeat itself before we choose to tackle the underlying problems.
[…] until I went actively digging for black British histories, I didn’t know them.
While black British story is starved of oxygen, the US struggle against racism is globalised into the story of the struggle against racism that we should look to for inspiration – eclipsing the black British story so much that we convince ourselves that British has never had a problem with race.
[…] racism does not erupt from nothing, rather it is embedded in British society. It’s in the very core of how the state is set up. It’s not external. It’s in the system.
Structural racism is an impenetrably white workplace culture set by those people, where anyone who falls outside of the culture must conform or face failure.
Colour-blindness is a childish, stunted analysis of racism. It starts and ends at ‘discriminating against a person because of the colour of the skin is bad’, without any accounting for the ways in which structural power manifests in these exchanges.
When people of colour point this out, they’re accused of being racist against white people, and the accountability avoidance continues.
It’s a social construct that was created to continue racial dominance and injustice.
In order to dismantle unjust, racist structures, we must see race.
Blackness, however, is considered the ‘other’ and therefore to be suspected. Those who are coded as a threat in our collective representation of humanity are white.
How can I define white privilege? It’s so difficult to describe an absence. And white privilege is an absence of the negative consequences of racism.
[…] white privilege is the fact that it you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory in some way. And you probably won’t even notice it.
‘Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
White privilege is never more pronounced than in our intimate relationships, our close friendships and our families.
[…] for white people who are in interracial relationships, or have mixed-race children, or who adopt transracially, the only way that it will work is if they’re actually committed to being anti-racist.
That’s nothing to suggest that a black child with a white parent, or who is adopted into a white family, won’t be on the receiving end of immeasurable love and support. But, having never experienced it, the parents might not be well equipped to deal with the racism their child receive.
There is a worry the ever-disappearing essence of Britishness is being slowly eroded by immigrants whose sole interest is not to flee from war or poverty, but to destroy the social fabric of the country.
At the core of the fear is the belief that anything that doesn’t represent white homogeneity exists only to erase it.
Another incarnation of the fear reveals a deep-seated discomfort with anti-racist talk and protest. Couched in the pernicious frame of ‘freedom of speech’, it materialises when a person with anti-racist values voices their disgust at something racist. They will then be told that their sheer objection to it actually inhibits freedom of speech.
It seems there is a belief among some white people that being accused of racism is far worse than actual racism.
I think that there is a fear among many white people that accepting Britain’s difficult history with race means somehow admitting defeat.
It’s about time that critiques of racism were subject to the same passionate free speech defence as racist statements themselves.
A character simply cannot be black without a pre-warning for an assumed white audience.
We are told that black actors and actresses cast as central characters in works of fiction are unrealistic. We are told that they are historically inaccurate, or that they are too far a stretch of the imagination.
White people are so used to seeing a reflection of themselves in all representations of humanity at all times, that they only notice it when it’s taken away from them.
There is an old saying about the straight man’s homophobia being rooted in a fear that gay men will treat him as he treats women. This is no different.
Regardless, that isn’t the kind of world anti-racists are envisioning when they agitate for justice. It has always been about the redistribution of power rather than the inverting of it.
This wasn’t the place [when discussing feminism] to be discussing racism, they insisted. There are other places you can go to for that. But that wasn’t a choice I could make. My blackness was as much a part of me as my womanhood, and I couldn’t separate them.
‘That work started when I realised that African American women . . . not recognised as having experienced discrimination that reflected both their race and their gender. The courts would say if you don’t experience racism in the same was as a [black] man does, or sexism in the same way as a white woman does, then you haven’t been discriminated against.
When black feminists started to push for an intersectional analysis in British feminism, the widespread response from feminists who were white was not one support. Instead, they began to make the case that the word ‘intersectional’ was utter jargon – too difficult for anyone without a degree to understand – and therefore useless.
The white feminist distaste for intersectionality quickly evolved into a hatred of the idea of white privilege – perhaps because to recognise structural racism would have to mean recognizing their own whiteness. They were backed up by their men.
The trouble is, it has become faddish among people who don’t read books or essays but merely tweets and Internet comments, and thus don’t know what they are talking about.
If feminism can understand the patriarchy, it’s important to question why so many feminists struggle to understand whiteness as political structure in the very same way.
Whiteness is a political position, and challenging it in feminist spaces is not a tit-for-tat disagreement because prejudice needs power to be effective.
The politics of whiteness transcends the colour of anyone’s skin. It is an occupying force in the mind. It is a political ideology that is concerned with maintaining power through domination and exclusion.
After a lifetime of embodying difference, I have no desire to be equal. I want to deconstruct the structural power of a system that marked me out as different.
The ‘angry black woman’ phrase says more about maleness and whiteness than it does about black women.
This information suggests that it’s not as simple or binary as choosing between race and class when thinking about structural inequalities.
I don’t think that any amount of class privilege, money or education can shield you from racism.
The book is told in 7 chapters, each talking about one face of racism. The author has researched what she wrote, thought over everything in detail, and added her own experiences to give examples of every situation being spoken about.
It is an incredible book, and I hope everyone picks it up. It has a lot to teach.
The King: The Eternal Monarch was in to-wait and watch lists of many viewers right from the beginning of this year. Not only is the story intriguing—following treachery and love across parallel universes, it also stars two of the most popular actors: Lee Min-ho and Kim Go-eun.
I watched this drama as the episodes were released, with two new episodes every weekend. As each episode is ~72 minutes, a ton happened story-wise and I have proper notes for this review. Let’s get to it.
What’s the drama about?
The drama mainly follows two parallel worlds—one has the Republic of Korea like how it is currently in real life, and the other has Kingdom of Corea which is very different from current day Korea.
Lee Gon is the King of Corea. When he was a kid, his father was murdered by his (born out of wedlock) uncle out of jealousy. Lee Gon was almost killed as well but was saved by a masked person who left behind just an ID card of “Jung Tae-eul”.
The uncle’s main goal was to obtain the manpasikjeok (henceforth referred to as “the flute” in this review), which is a famed object that allows it’s owner to travel between worlds and time.
Due to some skirmish, the flute gets divided in half with the uncle escapes with one half and Lee Gon has the other. Decades later, Lee Gon travels to the parallel world searching for his saviour. He meets Jung Tae-eul and hence begins their love story.
Lee Gon also finds out that his traitor uncle is still alive and hiding in this parallel world. In order to get vengeance, the King begins hunting for him.
This series has fantasy, thriller, and also romance.
My opinions on the drama
As I said earlier, I watched this Kdrama as the episodes released. So I had ample time between episodes to properly think about them and analyze them. Which is probably a reason why I’m being so critical.
A friend of mine also watched it as episodes released and we discussed about every episode immediately after both of us were done. This is another reason why I thought so much about the story and nitpicked all of it.
The concept was really good.
It’s the reason why this drama was on my list. Especially because parallel worlds means that every character has their counterpart in the other world, living a completely different life.
I was super excited to see how they’d handle the intricacies of this concept, especially with a mystery/thriller story.
And I have to say, the basic plot and storyline was quite good. They did explore the vastly different lives of people and their counterparts. There were many switcheroo cases which were especially fun to watch.
The execution was not good.
It was fine in the beginning when things were relatively easy to keep track of. As a viewer, I was not confused very much and could not see any mistakes.
But as the drama went on, things got convoluted. Considering that this concept is quite tricky, especially when time travelling is involved, there should have been more thought put into the story.
My friend and I started getting confused with the intention of certain scenes as well as how they play into the bigger picture quite early. By the time we got to episode 10 (out of 16), I was clearly seeing plot holes. There were some facts and scenes that were logically questionable.
Episode 10, 11 and 12 were simply bad and I hated all of it. Everything was jumbled, nothing made sense, and there was no point to those episodes. There were also random romance scenes in the middle which completely shifted the ongoing vibes.
The direction was not good.
Direction and editing is super important for any TV show or movie. When dealing with confusing topics and timelines, it is important that the viewer is not confused. How shows usually handle this is by changing the colour tones just a little bit or by adding a border.
But there was no distinction between the worlds in this drama. Especially in the first couple episodes when distinction is needed in order to get used to it, there was none which confused me. Not even a mention saying which world we’re in.
I got used to it later but it still threw me off in the beginning.
The drama becomes worse as it goes on.
I really liked this drama in the beginning. The concept was cool, the characters were interesting, the editing was proper and all my attention was engaged.
But as the episodes went on… I started losing interest and became increasingly annoyed.
The romance sucked.
I HATED IT.
It was fine in the beginning before Lee Gon and Jung Tae-eul started to like each other. They had a spark. Their conversations were actually funny and entertaining. They bantered.
All that personality vanished when they caught feelings. They became two extra sappy characters who only made sad faces every time they met again. And they pine whenever they’re apart. All the actual banter and personality which I liked was removed.
And that’s why I hate the romance.
Plus, I didn’t actually like the two actors together. I couldn’t ship them. In my opinion, they were cast only because they’re both popular actors. I don’t think their chemistry was seriously considered.
It is clear through multiple romantic scenes that the goal was to show Lee Min-ho and Kim Go-eun together for some time instead of actually having a point to those scenes.
There would be times where the characters simply stared at each other with sad faces and longing. And these scenes actually were shown in the most random times.
For example, there would be something intense going on and that scene would get cut abruptly to show these two with a pointless supposed-to-be romantic segment.
Even when there were genuine scenes between the couple, the dialogues were SO BAD. I cringed at most of them. Where do they come up with this stuff? Some of the lines that were supposed to be critical made no sense. Maybe it makes sense in Korean but not English? I don’t know.
Some of the scenes honestly gave me secondhand embarrassment. I had to look away from the screen and wipe my face to deal with my frustration.
So yeah, the romance was a no-go for me.
Lee Gon’s character was made only to show Lee Min-ho off.
This is Lee Min-ho’s first drama since coming back from mandatory military service. Hence, this drama got a lot of attention.
But the character… oof. Lee Gon, or the King of Corea, is portrayed as a perfect person. Let me explain.
The King is:
a GENIUS because he is super into math and can solve equations really quick in his head. He can also draw conclusions for fantasy concepts like travelling between worlds through math and physics equations.
ALL-KNOWING. He is well-read, knows about every topic under the sun, draws conclusions quickly and before any other person, comes up with the best plans because he is the smartest ever, and is almost like God.
the MOST HANDSOME man to ever exist. Throughout the show, his good looks are given extra attention and brought to the forefront with and without subtlety. Multiple times, strangers will double-take and comment about his looks, even in the world where he is not the king. There were several scenes where he is lit with a glow behind him to emphasize his beautiful smile.
great in tense situations. He is at ease in control and NOTHING FAZES HIM. People around him cannot keep up with the speed of his brain.
VERY ROMANTIC. When he likes Jung Tae-eul, he goes all out to spend time with her and protect her. She comes first to him and that is hella romantic.
CHARMING. He can charm anyone with his smiles and words.
A TRUE HERO.
The King’s only flaw is perhaps his inherent pride since he is King. He is used to ordering people and getting his way. But that is also portrayed as something to admire, so it is not really a flaw.
Lee Gon was like every woman’s dream guy.
I mean.. who can resist such a charming, smart, and capable leader? There has never been a King like Lee Gon and there will probably never be again. Just by looking at him, you can see that he is from an entirely different league.
Every time he does something, another character will react like “he’s so charming/smart/great/handsome/cool.” Ugh.
The King is simply unreal and that is why I could not stand him. Every time I saw his smug face and every scene where he is shown as a holier-than-thou person, I wanted to print out a photo of him and tear it up.
I won’t lie, I definitely appreciated Lee Min-ho’s good looks. He looked hot. But after a certain point, I need more of the personality than just looks.
Lee Min-ho is a good actor. My problem is the character itself. The character has zero flaws. The only thing that gives this character some depth is his tragic past. That is all. There is nothing beyond that.
It’s almost as if everything about this character was polished a little more because Lee Min-ho was cast for it. And I’m sure that the show’s creators/writers/producers banked on Lee Min-ho to bring in a ton of viewership. And hence, they showed him off with this perfect AF character.
Jung Tae-eul was good… but also not good.
She was more real, with a snarky personality and flaws. I actually quite liked her at times.
Jung Tae-eul is a cop, has smart instincts, and does not need to be saved from every single situation. She is not a damsel-in-distress. She is strong and tough.
Much of her personality vanishes when she is with the King. She turns into a pining, sad cry-baby. There were even some scenes where she was shown as a damsel-in-distress in order for the King to rescue her even though she didn’t need it.
Jung Tae-eul had some good scenes but they were nullified with some really bad scenes. I was annoyed when she’d be turned into the King’s love interest instead of her own person. What a shame.
The love triangle was not bad.
I usually hate love triangles but this one didn’t actually bother me. Probably because there wasn’t much outright tension between all three of them.
Kang Shin-jae, who is Jung Tae-eul’s long time friend and colleague, mostly pines after her in silence and doesn’t even try doing anything about it. I felt bad for him right from the beginning because obviously he won’t end up with her.
The reason I didn’t dislike this love triangle is because there weren’t drawn-out scenes showing the love triangle. Kang Shin-jae likes Jung Tae-eul but we don’t see the guys fighting over her or having much tension because of her.
Personally, I didn’t think Kang Shin-jae and Jung Tae-eul were right for each other anyway so I wasn’t invested in the possibility as well.
Kang Shin-jae had actual life issues.
He was the only one who had issues of his own which were different from the parallel world thing. Most of the time, he wasn’t even involved with Lee Gon and Jung Tae-eul. He had other problems to deal with.
Kang Shin-jae had a difficult relationship with his mom, had lingering feelings about his childhood and how his life changed etc.
Him being in love with Jung Tae-eul didn’t determine his role in the drama. I appreciated that.
My biggest disappointment: Koo Seo-ryung.
She was THE BEST female character of the show. I was in awe of her right from the start.
Koo Seo-ryung is the Prime Minister of Corea. She started at the bottom in her life and worked her way to becoming the PM. How cool is that? She has ambition, is ruthless, and is a role model.
The drama even highlighted issues of being a woman in politics. The men constantly undermine her even though she is smarter than them, and they say that she should resign and stay at home. But Seo-ryung pushes through and proves her abilities.
The writers were really onto something with this character. And they messed it up royally.
Koo Seo-ryung was portrayed as a villain because she is ambitious and goes after what she wants. She wanted to become the Queen because that is the highest position achievable and there is nothing wrong with that. A PM can only serve two terms but a Queen’s term never ends. And she vied for that.
But. There was negative light on her because of that and the King constantly undermined her.
Even when the situation was political and she deserved to know the information, the King simply told her to mind her own business. How rude. She would have been able to help him but he told her no simply because of personal reasons.
She asked for honesty because it’s her JOB and he gave her stupid horse-riding riddles.
Through it all, the King is the good guy and she is the witch. That is a strong no in my book and it affected my overall opinion of this drama.
There were some good comedy segments, but not enough to redeem the show.
Honestly, the segments I actually liked were ones with supporting characters and not the main characters.
Towards the end, there were barely any funny parts. The show seemed to consist of only:
scenes with the main plot and
By the end, the show was just a mess and I couldn’t wait to be done with it.
The villain was awesome.
The villain of this show is the King’s uncle. Lee Lim is a son born out of wedlock and hence could not inherit the crown even though he was older than Lee Gon’s father.
The royal family is in possession of the powerful flute but Lee Gon’s father was not interested in exploring it’s powers. Considering that a waste, Lee Lim leads his followers so he can steal the flute and have infinity and eternity in his hands.
The King is portrayed as the smartest person ever but in my opinion he is dumb compared to the villain. The villain is cunning, clever, patient, and ambitious*. Lee Lim is smarter than the stupid King who can only say cringe-worthy lines he thinks are romantic.
I was awed and super engaged every time the villain was on-screen. You could not make me pause watching. Keeping up with the villain’s plans was interesting as hell.
Lee Lim was another character that the writers messed up at the end. He had a few out-of-character scenes where his actions did not make sense with who he is. That’s all I will say because I want to avoid spoilers.
*do you see a pattern with the characters I liked or is it just me.
The supporting characters were awesome.
I wish the drama only included the supporting characters and did not show the main couple. They were much more interesting and entertaining.
Any time the supporting characters had a good scene, I gobbled it up with affection. Their scenes without the King and Tae-eul were even better.
Besides PM Koo Seo-ryung, my favourite character was the King’s right-hand man and (kind of) best friend Jo Yeong. I. LOVED. HIM. He is badass and pure and any time he showed emotion, I was gripped.
His counterpart in Korea, Jo Eun-sup, was hella entertaining as well.
Since we’re on the topic, I would like to show my appreciation for Woo Do-hwan. His acting is BRILLIANT. He played two very different characters and pulled it off so well. His acting was better and had more complexity than Lee Min-ho’s. Woo Do-hwan deserves recognition for his roles. I would like to see him as a lead in the future.
An underrated supporting character was Head Court Lady Noh. She raised the King and always had good intentions for him. She’s also a mother-hen and frets over King all the time.
There was one fact which was randomly thrown out in the middle only to never be brought up again. And that was really weird. Her character, especially with that twist, had so much potential and it was wasted.
Supporting characters were overshadowed a lot.
One of the reasons I like Kdramas is because they usually give attention to the plot and characters arcs of the supporting characters as well. It’s not only about the main characters.
But in this drama, everything was about the main characters. There were barely any scenes that really focused on the supporting characters alone. And this really disappointed me.
In the last episode there was ONE scene about a random character that we never got much of. It was very off because that character’s role in the plot was minimal at best. And they got focus in the epilogue when other supporting characters didn’t.
Supporting characters falling in love was better than the main couple.
I was so into the romance between Jo Yeong and Myeong Seung-ha in the Kingdom of Corea. And I was also into the romance between Jo Eun-sup and Myeong Na-ri.
Basically, the same two people but in both parallel worlds.
This pairing was so good and even though there wasn’t much attention given to their relationships, it was enough for me to love it.
There was too much confusion.
Confusion is warranted and usually expected when watching shows with mystery plot-lines. This drama definitely banks on viewers being confused and waiting to see how everything is resolved. We watch so our questions get answered.
But this drama caused too much confusion. My friend and I had tons of questions. If I look back on our texts from episode 8 or so, I can see us asking each other questions to see if we missed anything.
The worst part is that many questions went unanswered.
While there can be elements, especially in fantasies, that cannot be explained, this drama simply chose not to explain some things. The questions were raised and forgotten.
Before the finale aired, my friend actually went through all recaps to understand things better and even read theories. I did not spend that much time on it and I am glad. Because even those efforts did not lead to anything. Many viewers were confused.
There were a TON of plotholes.
I am generally a person who keeps up with the logic and analyzes things. I’ve noticed plot holes in other shows and dramas as well. Plot holes are never good to notice but they can open up conversations through which you may find out that you missed somethings.
This drama had the latter, where we figured out what happened through discussion. But it also had a lot of unresolved plot holes.
In fact, there were massive plot holes in this drama. So huge and obvious that you’d think the writers deliberately ignored them. Because they can’t be stupid enough to not notice them.
The concept of parallel worlds is tricky alone. The concept of time travelling is complex as well. When both are used together, there needs to be much more thought put into the story and plot-lines. The writers should spend time going over timelines and see that everything makes sense.
That was clearly not done for this drama. The plot hole in the last episode is so glaring and massive that I really wonder, how did they not think of it?
It’s almost as if viewers are expected to not analyze anything because we’ll get distracted by Lee Min-ho’s face.
If you don’t want spoilers, click here to skip to the “overall” concluding section.
I had a lot of questions and noticed many plot holes. But there are quite many and hence I will only talk about the bigger ones here.
If all parallel worlds were the same until one event which split them, then how is the flute in only one world? Won’t there be multiple flutes, one in every world.
Lee Gon went back in time to save his younger self twice. How is it that the second time he went back, only one older Lee Gon was there? What happened to the dressed-in-black Lee Gon from the main timeline? If you think about the logic for a minute, you’ll realize there are supposed to be 2 older Lee Gons in the past at the same time. Time travelling doesn’t work however you want it to. It’s tricky and messy.
The epilogue showed the couple going on dates by travelling to a point in the past. But Lee Gon is the king. He has to marry and have heirs at some point? How will that work?
Why do they always travel to the past when all eternity and infinity is at their hands?
A main point in the plot is that time stops longer the more times Lee Lim and Lee Gon travel between the worlds. But Lee Lim has been travelling for almost three decades. How is it that time started slowing down only when Lee Gon started travelling? Makes no sense. And when time did stop for longer periods, what Lee Lim and Lee Gon did was not shown. They could have actually done crucial things when everything is paused but they didn’t.
Due to the altered past events i.e. Lee Lim dying in 1994 itself, many things would have changed. It appears that the writers of this show did not consider butterfly effect at all. Several people in both worlds died at Lee Lim’s hands and since he was killed, they would be alive. The world would look very different. That was not shown or accounted for.
Also, according to the new past where Lee Lim is killed and young Lee Gon is saved by Yeong and doesn’t have the ID card, Lee Gon’s memories would be vastly different. Those memories were not shown. If a point in past is changed, everything from then changes. And yet this show had the past changing massively but the current day remaining same. Makes. No. Sense.
What was up with the stupid scene in the epilogue where the new PM’s kid comes up on stage and asks the King who he is? And that glow behind the King when he smiles? Ugh. Barf.
Okay that’s all I can remember as of now. If there are more, I will come back and add them here. If you have theories or answers for any of these, let me know in the comments. And if you have any questions, feel free to mention them below as well.
I had high hopes for this drama and was disappointed by the execution of it all. I regret wasting 19.2 hours watching it.
If you would like to simply look at Lee Min-ho, this drama is good for you because he looks handsome AF.
If you care about the plot and substance, I suggest skipping this because it will only confuse and irritate you.
You better believe that I have been waiting to talk about this for a long time. I always wanted to talk about books I read because of the hype and whether I liked them or not. Never got to it though, until today.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl and this week’s topic is “Books I Bought/Borrowed Because…” I changed the title to “read” so I can include both bought and borrowed.
There are many books that I can talk about, but I’m choosing the books that made the most impression on me.
 A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
When A Court of Thorns and Roses released, I was a huge fan of the Throne of Glass. Hence, I read ACOTAR with high hopes. But I did not like it. In fact, I really disliked ACOTAR.
So when ACOMAF released, I had no plans of reading it and wasting my time. But after MONTHS of listening to other readers hype it up and say that “it’s so much better than ACOTAR”, I had to give it a shot. I wanted to see if it’s actually good.
And it was! I LOVED ACOMAF. Unfortunate that I hated the third book A Court of Wings and Ruin, but ACOMAF will forever have a good place in my heart.
 Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
This book is SUPER HYPED. By the time this book released, I had been burned by the hype multiple times and was wary of reading it. After months of contemplating, I finally picked it up because I had heard zero negative reviews.
And I hated it.
I hated it so much that I was annotating my frustration in the book’s pages using a pencil, and I had many notes. After finishing it, I sold it back to the second hand bookstore (after erasing my annotations, of course) as soon as I could. I wanted it gone.
Until the Game of Thrones TV show ended, the hype for it kept increasing year by year. It became so huge!
I finally succumbed to the hype when the show had completed airing 6 seasons. And since I’m a reader, of course I read the book first. And I hate myself for it.
The book was huge, had too many details, and was boring as heck. I hated it. I don’t know how I completed book 1, but at least I did not even try to read the rest.
I also watched the TV show until a few episodes into season 5 before quitting. It was so not my thing. As I binged the show, I was actually making paper lucky stars for my Instagram. I was that bored by the show.
 Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann
What drew me to this book was it’s promise. They’re not heroes, but they’re the only ones available. A very diverse group of kids pushed together and having to save everyone in their galaxy because of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
But I wasn’t impressed by this book. At times it was trying too hard, and there was a constant struggle between being plot-driven and character-driven. I couldn’t like it.
My hesitation in picking up this book was because I don’t enjoy poetry but once I did start reading it? I was floored. Apparently the audiobook narrated by the author is even better than just reading the book.
The Poet X is a beautiful book where the story is told in poetry, with strong words and emotions. I loved it.
 Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Remember a few years back when this book was EVERYWHERE? Every single YA reader and then some had read it and praised it. I couldn’t go a day without hearing or reading about this book.
There were raves and a few rants. But no matter what, this book was on every’s read shelf or to-read shelf. After a few months of it being shoved in my face, I finally acquiesced and read it. And I loved it so darn much.
The hype was so right. It’s barely spoken about now because everyone in the target market read it. If you like Young Adult books and haven’t read it yet, you’ve been living under a rock.
Let’s be honest. Almost everyone who has read this book read it because of the hype. Only the first few readers picked it up on their own, and they began the hype which took over the New Adult readers like a wave.
Almost everyone has read it. Many liked it, and quite a few readers didn’t like it. But it was widely read. Within MONTHS of it’s release, hundreds of readers had read it and reviewed it. I’d say it’s one of the books that has successfully mastered and lived through the hype without being widely dissected.
I personally loved it, and shouted my love for it online.
This book has been on my radar since it released, and I was gifted a paperback copy of it from my secret Santa last year. I was super excited to finally read it because it’s been widely praised.
The book follows Frank Lee as he navigates his high school senior year. It documents all the parts of an Asian-American teenager’s life such as parental expectations, the problem of not completely belonging anywhere, teenage love, and goals for life.
At the center of all this is the story line where Frank falls in love with a girl named Brit. But her parents won’t approve of her since she’s American. They want him to only be with a Korean-American like himself. He concocts a plan to fake-date Joy Song, a fellow Korean-American, to appease his parents while actually hanging out with Brit.
We all just want to love who we want to love.
But life is much more than what he thinks it is.
> This book was a journey.
I didn’t like the book much in the beginning because the writing style was a little different. The vibe and emotion in the writing was not what I’m used to reading.
But once I got used to that, I got immersed in the book and Frank’s story.
> Frank is Korean-American.
His parents came to America with not much money so that he and his sister can have a good life. He is expected to study well, get high scores on the SAT, get into an Ivy League university, get a good job, and settle down with a girl from their tribe.
> We follow his story where he struggles with wanting to make his parents proud as well as live his own life.
One of the most profound discussions in this book is about identity. Frank struggles with identity along with other Korean-Americans of his age. He’s in the middle, stretched between the two ends, trying to fit in one place where he’s not completely accepted.
He likes American food, but he also feels at home with traditional Korean food. He’s not an expert in Korean traditions, language, or food but he will always feel at home among them because of his parents. Yet, he’s an American teenager through-and-through.
White people can describe themselves with just American. Only when pressed do they go into their ethnic heritage. Doesn’t seem fair that I have to forever explain my origin story with that silent hyphen, whereas white people don’t.
> The book also shows the divide in linguism.
Frank’s parents did not teach him Korean. They want him to succeed in America and hence encouraged him to only learn English. That’s entirely because of their dreams for him, but it affects his life in different ways as well. It’s difficult for him to communicate with his grandparents or family who speak in Korean.
Try as he might, he can’t fit in with the Korean crowd because of the language barriers.
There were two pages in the book where the conversation takes place in Korean. Frank’s dad and Joy’s dad speak in Korean and hence it is printed in Korean* as well.
This conversation is later referred to and told in gist to Frank by his parents, but we never find out exactly what was said. That’s because Frank himself never learns of the conversation entirely and since we read from his perspective, we don’t as well. We’re not even given a translation at the back in a note, leaving us clueless like Frank. That was an interesting way of getting us to experience the divide due to language.
*I found someone online to translate the two pages for me line-by-line so I can find out lol.
> Frank’s relationship with his parents.
Multiple times, Frank wonders about his parents’ work ethic. Rain or shine, holiday or sick, they always go to work in their store. They never take a day off. And Frank, grown up American and looking at American parents, regards his parents as an anomaly.
This, of course, leads to Frank not really knowing his parents. His parents speak broken English and throughout the book we see Frank struggling with his bond with his dad. The divide between immigrated parents and first-generation American kids is shown really well.
Dad settled into his role as breadwinner, expected me to settle into my role as disciplined academic, and we both put our noses to the grindstone and never looked back up.
Frank’s parents are also really racist. They regard Koreans as the best, Americans as ones who have succeeded, and look at everyone else under their noses. This makes Frank’s relationship with them very complicated, especially when he likes a White girl.
> This also means that while Frank loves them, he constantly struggles with correcting them and hates their policies.
I was pleasantly surprised to see this addressed because usually racism is kept only to White people. But Asians can also be racist. It’s true.
> Frank learning about the complications of love and what a relationship is was nice to see.
At the heart of this story is Frank navigating high school relationships and his feelings. I really like how it was connected back to who he is as a person and his upbringing.
> The friendship in this book TORE me.
Y’all. Forget the love. The friendship between Frank and his best friend Q is the BEST. THING. EVER. It’s too pure. I could cry.
> Character growth.
When I said that this book is a journey, I really meant it. The book takes us through Frank’s thoughts and realizations through the book. We see how he learns and grows.
I really liked Frank as a person and his growth in this book.
> Reading this book was like peeling the layers of an onion.
The book adds on more details and uncovers facets to life as the book goes on. We start with Frank liking a girl, but end with so much. From life as a Koran-American, to social-standing and comparative preferences, to what a family means.
The book really delivered on plot, information, characters, and emotion. I am not ashamed to say that I cried towards the end. I cared too much about these characters.
Frankly in Love‘s premise is simple. A Korean-American boy starts fake-dating a Korean-American girl so that he can really date an American girl and not disappoint his parents.
But that barely covers what the book is really about. It is so much more than just another teenage romance with the fake-dating trope.
There’s been a lot of talk about this book since before it’s release. Bloggers who were lucky enough to get an ARC of this praised it a lot. The word got out pretty well, and tons of people got to reading it.
Everything I heard about this book was good. It was only positive. And that’s the reason why I expected it to be really good. I did not expect for it have elements that I really dislike.
But I did.
Ever is a first generation Chinese-American. And like all Asian parents, they have high dreams for Ever. She’s expected to become a doctor.
But all Ever wants to do is dance. She loves to dance and choreograph dance routines. Her dream is to get into NYU Tisch School of Arts.
During the summer after high school, when she had plans of dancing and other things, her parents suddenly send her to Taipei for a summer programs. They want her to know her culture and learn Mandarin.
But the program nicknamed “Loveboat” is much more than a clean summer program to learn things. And this summer is going to shape Ever’s life in ways she never expected.
Let’s do this review in list format because I have MANY POINTS.
WHAT I LIKED:
Asian-American life representation.
Life is a lot like that even in Asian countries. Parents sacrifice SO MUCH that us only thinking about doing what makes us happy is almost a crime. I’m literally an engineering student in college and not doing literature because of my parents.
It’s so normal for us. And I love how it’s represented accurately, describing how it is for the kids AND the parents.
There were so many relationships shown that had layers to them. Between Ever and her romantic interest. Ever and her parents. Ever and her roommate.
There were even second-hand mentions of relationships not explicitly shown in the book. I loved reading all of it because it’s how life is. And the author managed to show just how many different complex relationships exist for just one person.
What it’s like to be Asian in America.
As the summer program is full of Asian kids living in other countries, we got a few bits of proper focus on how life is for them. The way they are treated, the almost-normal racist comments. It hit hard, but I feel good knowing that non-Asian readers will understand what it’s like.
Dreams and sacrfices.
We know that how we are brought up affects us a lot. It shapes our self-worth, our attitude towards life, and our ambitions and goals. This book really showcased the different types of lives and how parents really affect children.
Supporting characters had significance too.
Every supporting character we saw had dreams and goals. They had desires in life. The author showcased so many different scenarios through them. This one group of guys just went around breaking Asian stereotypes and I LOVED IT. Huge points for these things.
There was so much of it! Characters learned through mistakes, learnt new things, started having different outlooks and became better people by the end. That was lovely to watch.
What I did not like:
The middle of the book was dull and uninteresting.
The beginning started off strong. The ending was good. But damn the middle was annoying.
After Ever got to the program, it became all about teenage rebellion and boy crazy thoughts. It felt like a full one eighty from the first few chapters.
It got me so disinterested in the book that I PAUSED listening to it as an audiobook. In order to make myself finish the book, I had to pick it up as an ebook after a week.
This alone ruined the experience for me.
Other than the random boy-crazy rebelling stuff in the middle which threw the entire book off for me, it was really good.
I recommend this book for the Asian-American representation, complex relationships, and character growth.
But if you don’t like ANY of boy crazy random things, you won’t like it much like me.
I picked up this book as part of the South-Asian Reading Challenge, and I was NOT disappointed. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to read it in January but after Kafka On The Shore I needed something light and this was perfect.
The book stars Vaneeta “Winnie” Mehta—a film enthusiast (particularly Bollywood films), type A Indian student, and dramatic enough to make Bollywood writers proud.
After Winnie is cheated on and dumped by Raj, whom she thought was “the one” because of an astrologer’s prophecy, she sets out to change her destiny in the stars.
Enter: Dev Khanna, a guy Winnie had a spark with in freshman year before starting to date Raj. A guy who, while not matching her true love prophecy, feels more right for her than Raj ever did.
My So-Called Bollywood Life is perfect for readers who like YA. But it’s even more perfect for Bollywood-lovers. Following Winnie’s complicated life about teenage love, future plans, and family dynamics with Indian traditions, this book will transport you into a fun world.
I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.
I cannot describe just how much I enjoyed this. It has all the Indian elements I ever wanted in a YA setting. As someone who loves YA and barely sees true Indian representation, this warmed my heart so much. I could cry.
All the things I loved:
(pretty much everything lol)
Winnie Mehta is awesome. I absolutely loved reading through her perspective. She’s energetic, exuberant, and is very passionate about films. I adored her. ❤
EVERYTHING INDIAN. Of course, I have to mention this. Even the few Hindi sentences (smoothly translated in English for everyone else) were a huge addition. I felt included. *cries* The traditions, beliefs, everything was amazing to read about. #relatable
Family presence. Winnie’s relationship with her family, especially her dad and grandmom, was so nice to see.
It wasn’t just romance. A lot of YA novels tend to sideline everything else in the favour of scenes that contribute to the romance. That didn’t happen here. We saw enough about Winnie’s culture, other relationships, and mostly importantly her drive towards film. She was determined to do anything to get into NYU. The struggle and stress was shown.
Winnie and Bridget. These two best friends were adorable to watch and I loved everything about their friendship.
The romance. I mean, come on. Of course I’m going to mention this. As the heart of the story, the romance did NOT disappoint. Honestly, it gave me quite a few feels.
A book is not just made of major plot points, but also the small settings. My So-Called Bollywood Life was chock full of small scenes/parts which make a difference to the reader. From Winnie dreaming about her favourite actor to people belittling Indian beliefs, there were tons of moments that added to the experience.
Thoroughly enjoyed the book, and totally recommend it to all YA lovers.
I did notice that it’s not specifically targeted for Indian readers, as in that the traditions are subtly explained and Hindi terms are translated. So if you want to have a fun and light YA read, you can pick this up without any worries.
I’m so glad I was introduced to this book through the challenge because I doubt I would have come across it otherwise.
For the past couple months, I’ve been seeing Toni Morrison mentioned a lot online. Several bookstagrammers and bloggers whom I follow are reading Morrisson’s works. Of course, all of this got me curious about the author and her works.
Right in time, my book club chose The Bluest Eye as our book of the month. That got me motivated to read the book and try the author’s works.
Trigger warnings: racist slurs, bullying, rape, neglect, abuse, humiliation. (Probably more but I can’t remember, so make sure to find out before picking it up)
The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s debut novel and has a unique take on racism. Through this novel, the author crafts a situation which causes a young Black girl to desperately want blue eyes.
Showcasing multiple issues such as racism, abuse, and neglect, the book shows how hard life is for a young innocent girl to want blue eyes. Blue eyes, which are usually a feature of white people who are loved and cherished.
The Bluest Eye is definitely not a light read. It’s poignant with a message in every chapter, and has a strong voice as a book.
First of all, let me say that this book wasn’t easy to read. And this was so because of multiple reasons.
The timeline of the book isn’t linear. The chapters are scattered and it is up to the reader to figure out the timeline after reading most or all of the book. The jumps were very confusing in the beginning that I gave up trying to make sense, and instead just took the book chapter by chapter.
As the chapters were scattered, I was trying to understand what was happening and piece together the timeline. Hence, I couldn’t connect with the characters or feel for them. That was unfortunate, because it would have made much more of an impact on me.
Morrison’s writing is very different than what I’m used to, and the way she spoke about and crafted the situations was something to get used to. That also played a part in the book not being a good read for me.
One thing that quite irritated me was the point of view shown. Some chapters are in first person point of view of a supporting character, not the main one. But most of the book is in third person point of view. The random switching, without sense, was off-putting.
Every chapter in the book had something to show, by itself. I really liked that. Because even if I managed to read just one chapter a day, I’m still getting some meaning out of it.
As The Bluest Eye deals with heavy issues, it’s not an easy book. Morrison doesn’t describe things very graphically, but it’s enough that it makes a lasting impression on you. This played a part in me reading the book very slowly.
Honestly, I’m not too sure about whether I liked this book or not. I would have liked it a lot more if the chapters weren’t jumbled up. But because of that, I simply could not get lost into the book and was confused for a lot of time.
I will be picking up at least another book by Morrison, though. I want to know why this author is so popular and I don’t think The Bluest Eye did justice.
I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone looking for a light read. Pick this one up only if you have the time to devote to reading it. It’s a slow but meaningful read.
I rate this book..
Have you read Toni Morrison’s books? Or, are they on your list?
Becoming, since it’s release, has been praised to the stars by just about everyone. All the readers I follow posted about it, and it was my book club’s pick sometime last year. I didn’t have the time to read it then, though. I finally picked up the book in November, but did not have the time or patience for a non-fiction.
In order to motivate myself to finish it this year, I chose Becoming as the book for a prompt in the Popsugar Reading Challenge and also included it in #StartOnYouRShelfathon. And it worked! I finished the book as my second read of the year. We’re off to a good start.
Once I was actually in the mood to read this book, which was so a few days back, I couldn’t stop reading it. Although it’s an autobiography, Michelle Obama’s life has been very interesting that it almost feels as if I’m reading fiction. She has written her story so beautifully, showing how she was brought up and what made her into who she is today.
Becoming is a brilliant book that sends a message of hope, change, and power in resilience. It was inspiring and motivating.
How Michelle Obama was portrayed in the media is such a contrast to how she is in the book. She, along with her husband and family, are humanized and broken down to the small quirks that makes them. She speaks about her struggles, her fears, and her weakness plainly. There was no hiding, but instead she owned every part of her story.
In my opinion, a major reason that this book resonates with people across the world is how Michelle openly talks about her struggles which many others are going through as well. She talks about the struggles of being a woman, being Black in a predominantly White country, being a woman in male-dominated field, being a working mother, and being the wife to a politician.
It was wonderful to read her thoughts and feelings on everything, especially the negative ones. In the end, she overcame all of that and stood strong. Michelle Obama learned how to adapt and use her resources to help other people. She recognizes all her privileges, from the people in her life to the power she has, and works to make changes in the US.
Through Michelle Obama, we also get insight into Barack Obama as more than the former US President. We see him as a passionate person, a fact-guy, as a husband, and as a father. It was interesting to see their relationship from the start and the issues they went through as he climbed the political ladder.
I was most curious to read about the Obama family’s time in the White House and I was not disappointed. A major portion of the book took place during those 8 years, and Michelle spoke about everything. We read about the staff, the rooms, and multiple small quirks of living there. Their life changed drastically the day Barack Obama became the President-Elect, and Michelle showed the overwhelming changes in the book.
Being the First Lady is very much different to being the President. The role doesn’t have all the hard power of the President, nor does it give the platform to talk about the same issues. But being First Lady does give power due to the image. Reading about Michelle Obama’s journey in the role was intriguing and inspiring.
One thing that Michelle Obama counted on for several years was the support from her girl friends. The power of female friendships is not spoken about much, in fiction or non-fiction, and it was really nice to see Michelle talk about it multiple times.
I should stop talking because there is SO MUCH in the book that I loved and several more quotes that I want to add. I can probably talk for an hour about this book.
But all I’ll say is, read this book if you haven’t yet. It’s a wonderful and inspiring story that drives home one thing: you are worth it, you can make changes in this world as well.
There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.
I rate this book..
Have you read Becoming? Do you have favourite quotes from the book?
A coming-of-age Korean drama featuring young adults chasing their dreams and finding love.
When My First First Love was released on Netflix, it was heavily advertised and pushed on almost everyone’s feed. There were so many people watching it and commenting on it.
WHAT IS THE DRAMA ABOUT?
The drama primarily follows 5 people who are stepping into their adult lives.
Yun Tae-o has been living independently in his grandfather’s house, and enjoys the life of a bachelor. One day three of his friends, end up crashing in his place and ask that he allow them to stay for a while. Unable to say no to them, he reluctantly agrees for the time-being.
The three friends include: Han Song-i, Tae-o’s best friend and his old crush; O Ga-rin, a very old friend whom Tae-o hasn’t spoken to in years; and Choe Hun, Tae-o’s close friend from school.
The last main character is So Do-hyeon, Tae-o’s closest friend in college.
The drama follows these characters as they find themselves, chase their dreams and fall in love.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE DRAMA
I started the drama only after Netflix released both seasons. While marketed as two seasons, the drama is like any other with 16 episodes. In fact, there wasn’t even a cliffhanger or a break in between the seasons. The plot flowed through continuously. I assume it was split just as a strategy, and nothing to do with the plot of the drama.
My First First Love is a wholly character-driven drama. We don’t have a very specific plot going on, other than following the ups and downs of the main characters.
The lack of any specific plot-line means that there’s no true point to the Kdrama, which annoyed me. I binged all 16 episodes in a short span of days, and the drama didn’t leave much of an impression on me. It’s quite underwhelming.
The drama is very slow-paced. I’m not someone who is good with slow paces, so this was another negative for me. The drama had 16 episodes, but the content of the drama was very little. In the end, I was just wondering how they managed to buff it up to 16 episodes because the content was not much.
What makes the drama actually fun to watch were all the hilarious moments peppered in. Since the drama is slow paced, there’s enough room for funny scenes to make the viewers laugh. It was nice to watch the interactions between the characters with them dissing each other or acting like kids.
Coming to the romances, there is quite a few of it in the drama. The main romance plot contained a love triangle. Now, I’m not a fan of love triangles AT ALL but I can admit that it was done well here. The love triangle became cumbersome afterwards though, because it was dragged on for longer than necessary.
My favourite was the romance between Choe Hun and O Ga-rin. It was super cute and pure. I absolutely loved watching them fall in love and continue to support each other through the drama.
Since the drama is basically about the characters, let’s move on to talking about them.
Yun Tae-o is the son of a wealthy real-estate owner. Nicknamed famously as “The First Love” by girls in his college, Tae-o is known for his boy-ish charm. He has tons of friends, is always upbeat and carries around a positive energy.
Tae-o was my favourite in the beginning, simply because he is very charming. But as the drama went on and I started critically analyzing the characters, Tae-o fell short.
Considering that this drama’s only point is the characters, they could have worked more on crafting them. Tae-o had no depth, and no layers like a normal person would. He was very surface-level, with his crushes and antics. He didn’t have a dream or a passion, and made no effort to find one.
Season 2 did a little better on fledging Tae-o’s character, but it still fell short compared to other characters.
Han Song-i is an architecture student in college. After her father died her mother ran away leaving Song-i alone. When her house is foreclosed, Song-i is forced to seek Tae-o’s help.
Throughout the drama, Song-i is featured more than the others. It clearly felt like she was given more thought to during creation of the drama than other characters. We talk about her past, her relationships, her feelings, and even see quite a bit of her journey as an architecture student.
Song-i was definitely nice to follow, but personally I was disappointed that the other characters weren’t given as much attention as her.
Choe Hun is a dreamer. Coming from a wealthy family who want him to choose a sensible career, he breaks the chain and chooses to pursue becoming a musical actor.
We see his struggles with auditions and his family’s reaction to his dreams through the drama. It was really nice to see a character whole-heartedly pursuing his dreams no matter what is thrown in his way, or how much people discourage him. It was quite inspiring.
O Ga-rin had the best plot in the show, in my opinion. Her mother is very protective, and coddles Ga-rin to the point that Ga-rin has no freedom. In order to live her life and find her passion, Ga-rin escapes from her mother and seeks asylum at Tae-o’s home.
As the show progresses, we watch as Ga-rin learns how people live and interact in the world, and tastes new food! Since she has lived away from people and normalcy all her life, it takes her quite some time to learn how to live with everyone else. I found that process very endearing.
As Ga-rin learns about new things, she also exposes herself to many possible dreams. I really liked her plot, especially in season 2, and how the drama ended for her.
Seo Do-hyeon, Tae-o’s friend from college, is a serious person. He is nicknamed as the dependable “Last Love” by girls in college. Do-hyeon cares about academics and setting up for a dependable career than dating or goofing around like other college students.
Do-hyeon was hard to understand, as the show progressed. There was so much potential to him, with his layers and ambitions, but he was under-developed. Justice wasn’t done to his character, which was really disappointing. At some points, it felt like his character existed just to add plot and complexity to other characters’ lives.
The soundtrack throughout the drama was one of the highlights, for me. During some scenes, I cared more about the music than what was going on with the characters. Whoever was in charge of the music for the drama really nailed it.
The following are my favourite songs from the soundtrack.
I especially love the last song above. It makes me upbeat and feel like I can handle anything in life.
I’ve only shared 4 songs, but the whole OST is great.
The drama did well on portraying young adults and their struggles with hopes and dreams, while also dealing with emotions and relationships. It’s not a drama that I would rewatch because it’s not up my street, but I can see how it can be liked by many others.
It’s a good drama to chill and watch, or even binge when you’re in the mood for something light-hearted. There are places where the drama fell short, but it’s a good watch if you’re not looking for an engrossing plot.
Have you seen My First First Love? Do you prefer chill shows to watch or ones with captivating plots?
Christmas time means watching tons of Christmas movies.
By now, I’ve watched quite a few Christmas movies and I have to say, they make you feel good. Cozying up in blankets with a hot drink or just watching when it’s all gloomy outside and watching a Christmas movie has a charm of it’s own.
When I got the chance to participate in the blog tour for Christmas Jars, I jumped on the chance. It sounded really nice and cute.
Based on the New York Times best- selling novel by Jason F. Wright
Hope is an aspiring reporter who has had her fair share of tragedy in life. Abandoned at birth, she’s grieving the recent death of her adopted mother when her apartment is burglarized of all her possessions. While reporting the burglary to the police, Hope discovers a jar full of money, labeled “Christmas Jar.” Shocked and grateful for this act of kindness, Hope discovers that people all over her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, have been receiving Christmas Jars for years during times of need. The jars are always anonymous and always contain different amounts. In this heartwarming Christmas classic, Hope goes undercover to discover the secret behind the Christmas jars, putting into motion a series of events that will change her life, and her community, forever.
Christmas Jars has all the Christmas-movie things down to a T. It’s cozy, cheesy, funny and has a happy ending. What more do you need? The movie is perfect for a Christmas pick.
I watched the movie with a few of my friends because I thought it would be fun to watch as a group, and I was right. While I would have enjoyed the movie alone as well, it was super fun to watch with others. Even though my friends and I are quite critical about plots and don’t like cheesy/cliché things, we enjoyed the movie.
The plot was really nice. Hope, our main character, was anonymously given a Christmas Jar full of money at a bad time in her life. After finding out that many others have been gifted at rough times as well, she vows to find out who these generous gifters are. This search completely changes her life.
As the movie starts with Hope as a newborn, the timeline is pretty straightforward. There’s no jumping in time or confusion as you watch the movie. If you’ve watched a lot of movies, then you can also probably guess what’s going to happen next. To me, the twist was very predictable, but I still enjoyed the movie.* It’s a clean plot, so you can just sit back and enjoy.
*I went a little extra critical and found two plot holes too but it’s a Christmassy feel-good movie and you should not question things.
The best part of the plot was that it all comes full circle. I really liked that. I like when movies can connect things from beginning to end, and that happened here. Personally, that’s a fave so a big plus from me.
The one thing that I really appreciate about the movie is that it leaves you hopeful. By the end of the movie, you’re happy. The story makes you believe that there are good people and restores your faith about kindness and giving. Not only that, it also shows how just a little bit of help from someone, who goes out of their way to help you and believes that you’re worth it, motivates you to fight back harder. The message of the movie was really nice.
As for the romance, since it’s not the main plot, it’s barely there. The romance was nice but it was very cheesy and cliché. It was over the top for me, so I didn’t like it much. But I do think that it’s perfect for Christmas movie lovers.
I quite liked it. Would have watched it on my own even without the blog tour. Definitely recommended if you’re looking for a new Christmas movie to watch. It’s also appropriate for all ages, so it’s a good one to watch with family or just with friends.
I was wondering how to talk about everything, whether to make separate posts or include them in a life update. But then, I just figured I can make a chatty post about them all together.
First of all, twitter has been waiting for Spotify Wrapped for at least a week prior. I’ve seen so many memes about their Wrapped predictions, such as break-up albums and totally wack music tastes. Some tweets were quite funny and relatable. So, I started anticipating my Spotify Wrapped as well.
Since Spotify released only this year in India, there’s not much data for my account. Truthfully, I used Spotify a little bit using fake VPNs but it never lasted long. I was tired of the fake VPNs haha. It’s not much data, though.
I have to say, Spotify doesn’t have every song so during the last two months I’ve switched to using YouTube for music. Especially since I listen to a lot of songs from Kdrama OSTs, and Spanish TV shows, which aren’t available on Spotify.
Everyone got their Spotify Wrapped stories and playlists a few days back, and it’s HYPED. I see so many people sharing their stats online, and showing off their music tastes.
My Top Artist was BTS. With my favourite BTS song being Dionysus. Is there any surprise? I think not. Ever since I became an ARMY, I somehow always am listening to BTS songs. Be it old or new, there is always a BTS song to fit my current mood.
After BTS, my top artists were Taylor Swift, 5 Seconds of Summer, Diplo and Sia. I am surprised Diplo came into the list, though. I didn’t listen to much of his music this year.
Even though there isn’t much data on my account from 2017 and 2018, this is pretty accurate of my music tastes back then. 2017 was the year I discovered Oh Wonder, and I was OBSESSED with their music. In 2018, I was all into music from the Shadowhunters TV show, which led me to Fleurie‘s music. Until today, Hurricane is my favourite song by her.
There were some solid great songs that I listened to in 2019, and I’m sure I’ll love that they’re all in one playlist for me to listen again later.
I have to give props to Spotify. I loved the presentation. I saw my Wrapped on both the app and on the desktop website. I loved the web version even more. The presentation style, UI, music, and everything was put together in a really good sequence. The calls to action to tweet artists and share your stories was put in very appropriate places as well.
YouTube Rewind 2019
Yo.. YouTube didn’t even try this time.
We know that Rewind 2017 was bad. Rewind 2018 was cringey as heck, didn’t include people we actually liked, and was a mashup of weird and random things. It became the most disliked video on YouTube.
I don’t think I was alone when I forgot about YouTube Rewind completely. There was no one who actually looked forward to this year’s rewind. We didn’t care, and we didn’t have expectations. But, it is possible to be disappointed even when you didn’t expect anything.
This year’s rewind was basically statistics. It felt very impersonal, looked like it was made in a rush in the last 2 days, and as if the rewind team had no budget for production at all. I understand having no budget, because they sucked last year and YouTube probably doesn’t want to shell out cash for another failure. But. Some effort wouldn’t have killed them.
The video mostly consisted of top 10s, which is stupid. We don’t watch Rewinds for that. That was never the purpose of it. Another stupid part was adding in random videos in increasing order of likes, which included what they thought were the “trends” of 2019. Highly inaccurate, if you ask me.
To try and “make the video better”, they added in some highly liked music as tracks. Newsflash: a video isn’t made great just by playing popular music in the background.
I was confused through it all. Okay, some videos were most liked, and I may not be very active in the trends, but there were random ass videos and people. They don’t define YouTube 2019, even if they got a ton of likes. It’s like YouTube has completely forgotten what Rewind was even for.*
This year’s Rewind screams lazylazyLAZY. Even the intro and outro screams zero effort. I was so bored through it all, I kept skipping forward to see if anything was worth it. Spoiler: nope. I honestly won’t be surprised if YouTube Rewind gets cancelled next year. I’d prefer it. I’m sure many would forget about the existence of Rewind soon enough, including myself. The new decade could start by leaving YouTube Rewind behind.
*Or, my theory is that they fired all the good team members after and now Rewind has gone to shit. Or maybe those members quit YouTube one by one because they hate working there. And now the team left has no vision.
The very small pros of Rewind 2019, but only because I’m comparing it to the absolute disaster called Rewind 2018:
They acknowledged the disaster called Rewind 2018.
They mentioned that we know better (but also clearly did not care to TALK to some viewers and find out what to do)
They acknowledged PewDiePie’s existence. I mean, it’s stats of top 10s so it’s hard not to, but still.
They acknowledged BTS. Again, kinda hard since it’s stats. But since we know that they deleted tons of views from BTS’s music videos, ARMYs need much more than this to forgive YouTube.
Christmas Tree Farm by Taylor Swift
I pop in online after a long and great day with friends, to see that Taylor just dropped a new song? Halsey dropped two songs as well, but more on that later. What a day!
First of all, Taylor has been doing really well this year. Especially with everything thrown in her her. She’s coming out the winner and is an absolute queen. I used to only listen to some of her music, and wasn’t a huge fan. But this year has made me a Swiftie.
Christmas Tree Farm is such a nice song! I absolutely love the vibes. The video was really cool, there’s jingle bells and Christmas cheer in the background of her song. The song also doesn’t sound like her recent music, but I love it. It’s a happy song, and spreads happy vibes. It’s perfect for Christmas.
Halsey’s New Music
Halsey shared her next album’s tracklist on her Instagram recently, and it hyped us all up for it. All the ARMYs, including myself, became super excited to hear SUGA’s Interlude, which is a collab between Halsey and SUGA from BTS. SUGA does awesome collaborations, so I was looking forward to it.
And then, Halsey just dropped two songs yesterday! One was SUGA’s Interlude (heck yes!!!!) and another was Finally // beautiful stranger.
The opening chords are signature SUGA. The sounds, the vibes, is totally SUGA’s style. We can hear it right from the beginning. I have to say, I don’t think Halsey’s voice is perfect for this song. I can imagine it better with a softer voice, because Halsey has a pretty strong voice.
Also, the song is really short. It’s over in no time. There aren’t much lyrics to it anyway. Halsey’s lines are just repeats. I liked the lyrics, though. The meaning is nice.
Overall, it’s okay. I really like the instrumentals, and will probably listen to the instrumental version a lot. But the song isn’t something that I would listen to on repeat. The tones are perfect for SUGA’s rap, but not Halsey’s voice.
Finally // beautiful stranger
I. LOVE. THIS.
The vibe is PERFECT for Halsey’s voice. I really like the sound of it. The tones, and the guitar is so good with her voice. Her singing style could not be better for it. I think she did wonderful with this song. I really like the lyrics as well.
I can totally see myself listening to this on repeat. The vibes are perfect for evening bus rides, chill blogging time when it’s raining outside, or just to listen to with a coffee while looking out the window.
I’m a HUGE fan of Jeffrey Archer’s books. Back when I frequented the library near me, I took the opportunity to gorge on every Archer novel that they had. (Except short stories, because I don’t like short stories haha) And I loved every single one of them. My favourite Archer book is Kane and Abel, which was brilliant.
When I saw Heads You Win on sale on Flipkart recently, with an unbelievable discount, I grabbed it immediately. The synopsis didn’t matter to me, but it did make me more excited to read the book.
Heads You Win starts in Leningrad, Russia with our main character Alex Karpenko. Alex is a young boy in school with high ambitions. When his father is murdered by the KGB for forming a worker’s union, Alex and his mother flee Russia in a ship with the help of Alex’s uncle. When they are about to flee, they’re given the option of hiding in the ship to USA or Britain. Alex flips a coin, which makes the decision for them.
As the reader, we don’t know what the coin chose. From the time Alex flips the coin, we follow both paths. We get to see what Alex’s life would be like if they went to Britain, and if they went to USA. And in each path, Alex and his mother wonder multiple times what would have happened if they chose to go into the other ship’s crate.
The book spans thirty years, and follows both lives of Alex. But which is the real one? Is there a winner?
The book was very captivating. Once I started the book, I oblivious to my surroundings. Even my mum laughed at just how out of it was while reading. Right from the first sentence, the book caught me in it’s world and didn’t let go. After a very long, I finished a general fiction book very fast. I read it in two sittings.
Jeffrey Archer’s writing has always made his books great for me. No matter the characters or the plot, he manages to grab my attention. This book was a little extra special because we get almost two different stories, and both are good enough to have a book of their own. Archer weaves two very interesting lives with politics, family, intrigue and plot twists.
The book showed the USA life as “Alex” and the Britain life as “Sasha”, just so the readers can understand which alternate life we’re reading about. Both Alex and Sasha’s lives were thrilling to read. It was interesting to read how the same person’s life turns out when they’re given different opportunities. The most interesting part was the end. After thirty years, how different are their lives? And is Alex’s biggest ambition the same no matter what life he leads?
As a reader, you can either simply enjoy the book and it’s thrilling plot, or you can wonder about hidden meanings. Until I finished the book, I simply enjoyed it. But after turning the last page, all I could think about was the hidden meaning. Does your entire fate depend on a single choice? Will it vary very much, or will you flourish the same either way? Will your life end differently based on that one choice?
While the plots were really good, I was intrigued about how the book will end very early. As the book progressed, all I could think about was “which life is the real one?” That was my burning question. I had huge expectations for the end.
But, the ending sorely disappointed me. Until the last two chapters, I kept the two lives straight and wasn’t confused. But the last two chapters threw everything out the window and confused me. It was badly written, and almost as if the intention was to mess with us. I had to read the last part THRICE. And even after that, I’m unclear about what exactly happened.
I’m not alone in the confusion, because I went onto Goodreads and found that everyone is in the same boat as me. The ending ruined the whole book. It was the one thing that I looked forward to and because it messed everything up, it ruined my experience with the book.
And as to my burning question? It wasn’t answered. The book’s title points to the fact that whatever “heads” pointed to, is the real one. But we’re never told which is heads and which is tails.
I’m not sure if I’m glad I read the book, or if I regret it.
I love it when a book makes me think and wonder for days after I finish it.
The storylines were thrilling and I loved reading them.
The ending opens up discussion, even if it was bad. It does have a meaning.
The ending was SO BAD!
Kinda feels like the author wasn’t sure what to do, and just wrote a random ending.
The book leaves you with a bad experience, just because of the last two chapters.
Would recommend: if you want an engaging read which will make you question and wonder things. Also if you won’t be too bothered with a badly written ending.
Would not recommend: if a book’s ending means a lot to you, and your reading experience.
I rate this book..
If you had to choose: the plot or the ending? Which matters more to you?
When I got the chance to be a host for the blog tour for this book, I JUMPED on the chance. An Asian-based YA fantasy? I’m sold. I also have Julie C Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns in my TBR, actually. (Don’t ask me why I haven’t gotten to it yet lol) I was super excited to read and review an ARC by this popular author.
Bao is a physician’s apprentice, well on his way to become a kind and skillful physician. But he also has a secret dream, which is to be together with the girl he loves. Lan, the kind, smart and absolutely beautiful daughter of a nobleman holds his heart.
When Bao confesses his feelings to her, she cruelly rejects him. Bao, stinging with hurt and embarrassment, sets off to find the infamous river witch so she can erase his love for Lan. But instead, the river witch places a curse on him which can only be broken by true love.
Lan, dealing with her own heartbreak, decides to help Bao look for the witch in apology so that his curse can be lifted. Their journey to the witch becomes so much more, leading them to the Empress’s party to the rival kingdom Gray City, to new friends, and a great adventure which entirely changes their lives.
The biggest charm of this book is the vibe. The writing, the world-building and setting, with the type of characters created a very specific and quite a unique vibe. I immediately picked up on it in the beginning, and it stayed until the very end. The Vietnamese names added to the charm as well.
The thing I liked the most was the character development. Both our main characters, Bao and Lan, go through so much and grow in the story. It’s very clearly seen. We also get to see what changed their thinking, and how they mature in their decisions and in emotional reactions. I’m always pro-character development and hence, I really enjoyed it.
The story was pretty good as well. While I wasn’t overly fond of the plot, it was enjoyable because of the characters. The overall idea was good, but I just couldn’t like the plot all that much, especially in the middle of the book.
But, with all of these good points, I didn’t like the book much. And the reason is the pacing. The pacing felt so off. It was slow, then suddenly very fast, back to slow and draggy, and would pick up pace again. It went like that for the entirety of the book, and I was annoyed. A consistent pace matters so much to a story, especially when it’s fantasy. Because it wasn’t consistent and gave me whiplash, I couldn’t enjoy the book.
The characters were great but the pacing. That just ruined it for me, unfortunately. One thing I’m glad about is that the author kept this as only one book. Perhaps the pacing was so because it’s only one book. Too much story to tell? I’m not sure. But I am glad that the story ended here.
Considering it’s only one book, for fantasy, it’s pretty good. There’s a good story, great characters, and a specific vibe.
If you’re in the mood for fantasy, but don’t have the patience for a series, you can pick this one up.
I rate this book..
Thank you to the author and Netgalley for the eARC. And huge thanks to Rafael and Erika for allowing me to host a stop on the tour.
Julie C. Dao (www.juliedao.com) is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.
Julie is represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.
Eleanor Oliphant’s routine is set. She works all week, spends time on crosswords during her breaks, reads books at home and drinks two bottles of vodka during the weekend to make it go faster. She doesn’t have friends or anyone to spend time with.
“When the silence and the alone-ness press down and around me, crushing me, carving through me like ice, I need to speak aloud sometimes, if only for proof of life.”
And so, Eleanor speaks to her plant.
One day, an act of kindness by her new colleague towards someone on the road in her presense sets off a chain of events. Through that one act, dominoes of events and people fall into her life.
Eleanor also sees a singer during a theatre performance and instantly falls in love with him. She’s convinced that Johnnie Lennon is the perfect man for her, and now she just has to make sure that they meet. Eleanor becomes obsessed with having a perfect life with him and making the right first impression, which leads her to making changes to her life as well.
The book is more than her making changes to her life, though. These changes cause her to finally face how she’s been living and also face her past.
I don’t really know how to review this book, because it’s so many things and one thing at the same time. I also have no clue how to articulate my views and feelings exactly.
Eleanor is a very complicated character. It took me a few chapters to properly understand her. Initially, I didn’t want to like her. She judges people very quickly, and is often rude in her judgement. A while later I felt sympathetic for her.
To be honest, I didn’t completely understand Eleanor until I had read most of the book. There are so many facets to her. You have to read through the book and learn every single one of them. There’s the well-read Eleanor, with a tremendous vocabulary; the lonely Eleanor, with no one to truly talk to; the socially inept Eleanor, who is awkward in conversation with people; the depressed Eleanor, because of her abusive mother; and so much more.
“I feel sorry for beautiful people. Beauty, from the moment you possess it, is already away, ephemeral. That must be difficult. Always having to prove that there’s more to you, wanting people to see beneath the surface, to be loved for yourself, and not your stunning body, sparkling eyes or thick, lustrous hair.”
We slowly get to know Eleanor through her experiences, thoughts, and opinions. I love the writing of the book because of that. It’s clear that we don’t know her well, and at many turns we peel back another layer to Eleanor. It made the book immersive. I felt like I was truly getting to know her.
Eleanor is widely read, and has a great vocabulary. (She’s very smart as well) This was, simultaneously, annoying and nice. She used a lot of words that I haven’t come across before and, hence, I needed my phone nearby to look up words all the time. It kept breaking up my reading, but I’m glad for it as well. I miss learning new words from books. I actually MARKED all the new words that I came across so I could go through them again.
My favourite part of the book is Eleanor’s journey. Eleanor goes through so much in the span of this book. I was inspired by her journey and her path to healing and self-forgiveness. She finally faced her past and her demons after reaching thirty years of age. That was beautiful to watch.
If I had to summarize why you should read this:
Amazing mental illness/depression rep.
Amazing healing rep.
A brilliant and complicated character.
I recommend Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to EVERYONE because Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine and YOU SHOULD KNOW WHY.
I rate this book..
Have you read this book? Do you read books talking about mental illnesses?
I had been looking forward to this book since the beginning of this year. I was checking out upcoming releases and this sounded SO GOOD. Not gonna lie, I had a lot of expectations. Mainly, I wanted a super cute and adorable book with the hate-to-love trope. It’s one of my most favourite romance tropes, and I’m always looking for books with it.
Mia and Jake have known each other for all their lives, and have been pushed together for most of it. Their moms decided that they would be perfect for each other and hatch matchmaking plans everyday. Mia and Jake hate spending time with each other, especially because of their moms who expect them to fall in love any second.
After the latest cute boy is scared away by her mum, Mia has had enough. She suggests that she and Jake fake date for a while and stage an epic heartbreak. Their moms will stop pushing them together if they realize that Mia and Jake will not work, right?
Just like any other fake dating plan, though, once these two truly spend time together they realize that they don’t actually hate each other. If their moms didn’t push them together forcefully, they could have been friends. And maybe even more?
WHAT I LOVED
Um, basically everything??
Mia and Jake were awesome. I loved them. They’re typical teenagers with their own problems. I connected with Jake a little more emotionally but liked them both equally. Other than the romance part, we also saw them try to figure out their future plans. Typical teenage things, and it made me nostalgic. I miss being in that position, considering different options and having a dream.
Mia is such a mood. Seriously, though. She’s very bubbly, cannot run for her life, is quite dramatic, loves Kdramas (like me!), and has lots of ideas in her head. Her dream is to be on stage, part of a theatre group, but she’s unsure of her voice for singing parts. She’s confident and not shy, but she also has vulnerabilities. I loved reading through her perspective. It was truly a ride.
Maybe this was how I was going to die. When I had so much unfinished business. I still needed to go to college. I still needed to meet Lee Jong-suk, my Korean Love.
Mia, after running to find Jake, so their cover won’t be blown.
Jake is Mia’s complete opposite and is so endearing. I totally see why their moms pushed them together. Jake is much more mellow and thoughtful. He is a talented singer and songwriter but he hasn’t tried performing ever since his brother, the other half of the “Adler brothers” duo, suddenly left one day. Jake is really hurt by that and he doesn’t to leave his mum, biologically his aunt, and go. I’m really glad we had chapters from his perspective as well.
Mia and Jake’s relationship was so adorable. When they finally did “pretend” to date, they realized that they don’t hate each other as much as they thought. Since they grew up together, they’re also kind of best friends because they know everything about each other.
We haven’t been friends for nearly ten years, but today it felt like we never stopped. And I was glad some things never changed.
This book includes THREE of my favourite romance tropes. There’s fake dating, hate-to-love, AND best-friends-to-lovers. Because in a roundabout way, Mia and Jake are best friends, which we see later. This book literally has everything you want.
I loved the plot. There were hilarious parts, swoon-worthy parts, and even sad parts! I had a smile on my face for most of the book. And since I read it in one sitting, my cheeks were hurting by the time I finished.
Even though I put him through all of that, he still came to sort of give me his blessing and—Oh my God, he was the Second Lead Syndrome. My had suddenly officially turned into a K-drama.
Fake It Till You Break It was definitely worth the wait. I honestly cannot believe it doesn’t have more hype. It EXCEEDED my expectation.
If you’re looking for a Young Adult book that will put a semi-permanent smile on your face and leave you happy, pick this one up. If you just want some cute afternoon chill-time reading, pick this up. If you’re looking for a vacation read, PICK THIS UP.
I will not stop pushing this onto people now.
I rate this book..
What are your favourite tropes? Hint: if a book has it, you will pick it up no matter what.