Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sarah Andersen Big Mushy Happy Lump Event Recap

I am so fortunate to have attended Sarah Andersen's book tour event to celebrate her new book, Big Mushy Happy Lump, on Monday, March 20, 2017. It was the perfect way to start of the first day of spring. The event was held at the Harvard Coop and Cambridge, MA was the first stop on her book tour. I got to the bookstore about 35 minutes prior to the event and there weren't too many people there but literally after 15-20 minutes, all the seats were taken and there was only standing room left.

Sarah's Sarah Scribbles collection of comics have always resonated with me. I can relate to almost every comic that has been posted online or included in books. It's like me in a nutshell. Sarah started the event off with showcasing some of her favorite comics that she drew. Of course she posted the one with how she spends money...mainly on books and the Big Mushy Happy Lump one. My current favorite is the one about the wacky weather we've been having and how the world is dying. The next section was a Q&A. The audience asked some very good questions.

One person asked about the materials she used to illustrate. For the Sarah Scribbles collection, Sarah uses a Cintiq tablet in Photoshop. Normally her comics take 1-2 hour(s) to finish but that doesn't include her 5-6 drafts per idea. She found her style through her inspiration of Ponyo. I can totally see this when looking her comic design for the main character. Also, she loves silly expressive characters.

Sarah has always created comics but she had to decide when to post them online for everyone to see them. In sophomore year of college, she had a lot of stuff happening and she started documenting her life through comics. She also draws comics based on her friends and family as well. Originally, her work was posted on her tumblr. For Sarah drawing comics is similar to keeping a diary.

However, she also likes to illustrate fairy tales. Sarah decided to include a bunny in her comics because she had a childhood rabbit and also the bunny represents a sense of normalcy. Sarah refers to the character in the comics as "her" or "she." This character is Sarah and she speaks for Sarah. It's like conveying the inner self.

When she first started to post her comics online after tumblr, she went with GoComics because she worked with them before and also because they included Calvin and Hobbes comics. Most of her "rejected work" are puns. Perhaps in the future Sarah will release some of these puns online or in a book. Who knows?

After the Q&A, everyone lined up to meet Sarah and to get their books signed. It was a pleasure to meet Sarah and Sarah told me about the different types of printing for her books. Apparently for Adulthood is a Myth, the second printing has the glossy pages. I actually didn't notice that I had glossy pages in my copy of Adulthood is a Myth and matte pages in my Big Mushy Happy Lump book. My life is complete to finally meet Sarah! She is awesome and super nice!

Currently, Sarah is working on her third book of Sarah Scribbles collection. Some of her upcoming comic con appearances include Kansas City Comic Con and most likely New York Comic Con. I hope you get to meet Sarah during the Big Mushy Happy Lump Book Tour!

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder

Title: The Museum of Heartbreak
Author: Meg Leder
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: June 7, 2016
Pages: 256
Source/format: Purchased//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from

In this ode to all the things we gain and lose and gain again, seventeen-year-old Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up.

Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Sixteen-year-old Penelope (Pen) Madeira Marx is the curator of the Museum of Heartbreak of the United States of America. She is a romantic waiting to fall in love. When Pen's friends Audrey and Eph have been expanding their social circles beyond their social triangle, Pen has been feeling quite left out. After meeting Grace and Miles, she realizes that she doesn't always have to do thing with her friends all the time. However, Pen seems not to be able to let go.

Meg Leder writes a genuine book about first crushes, friendship and finding one self. I found myself smiling a lot throughout the whole book because it's so light, fluffy and happy. I feel like I am sitting on cloud nine. Leder takes her readers on a trip around New York City. I recognize a lot of places from McNally Jackson Books to the American Museum of Natural History. Pen is relatable and all the characters in the novel are believable. Nothing is over the top and I can see every event happening in a high school setting.

Pen goes through multiple types of heartbreak throughout the book. Heartbreak is define by absence, loneliness and heightens nostalgia. It's a physical phenomenon, it comes it all shapes and sizes and the biggest heartbreak of it all is letting go.

Each chapter has a sketch of an item from the Museum of Heartbreak. Next to the drawing, there is description of the item and how she obtained the item along with a catalog number. This is a very creative way to title each chapter since each artifact of the museum has significance in Pen's life. Karina Granda did a fantastic job with the cover art. A curation of everything mentioned in the book is summarized through artifacts like pieces of a puzzle.

I also appreciate the pop culture and literary references within the novel such as mentions of Watchmen, J.D Salinger, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anne of Green Gables, Wuthering Heights, Oscar Wilde and the Dead Poet's Society.

This novel is written in a first person POV except for the last chapter which is sort of out of place since it's written in second person POV. However, the second person POV is the reader being a character from the novel.

The Museum of Heartbreak is a quirky and delightful read full of nostalgia and innocence. From dinosaurs to dark chocolate Kit-Kats, Pen realizes sometimes the best of things are right in front of her. Sometimes heartbreak is necessary before finding the truth and happiness.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Title: Blood Rose Rebellion
Author: Rosalyn Eves
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: March 28, 2017
Pages: 416
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Anna Arden is a Luminate living in England during the mid-19th century. However, unlike her family, she is barren and cannot wield magic. Because of the fiasco during her sister's debut, Anna is sent to Hungary to live with her grandmother's family.

Rosalyn Eves weaves Slavic mythology with historical fiction within this fantasy. Eves touches upon society of the many classes. The wealthy are able to control magic and dictate who gets to cast spells. The poor, however, live in horrible conditions and do not get a chance to wield magic even if they have the aptitude for it, except the Romani. The Romani have their own branch of magic that they will use in order to help their people.

I find the world building thoroughly fleshed out within Blood Rose Rebellion but at times there is a lot of info dumping. Because I am reading an e-ARC, it is very hard for me to keep referring to the glossary for foreign terms that I do not understand. The novel also has Anna being infatuated with so many guys in such a short period of time. Instalove is prominent throughout the whole book. She literally kisses three guys within the first half of the book.

Rosalyn Eves starts off the novel strong but I found the middle of the book slightly slowed down in pace and it was hard to keep my attention. The character development is flat and I was hoping for more personality, especially from the main characters of the novel. I do applaud Eves transporting readers to Hungary since there are not that many novels set in Eastern Europe. The Slavic mythology, such as stories about the Rusalka, fascinate me since I love reading about folklore from around the world.

Blood Rose Rebellion is a historical fantasy novel that will intrigue readers who love magic and folklore. Blood Rose Rebellion will pique readers' interests especially those who enjoyed Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and Ruined by Amy Tintera.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers post about their top ten books on their spring TBR list. I am looking forward to reading a lot of upcoming books this spring and there is no surprise that a good amount of them are contemporary reads. Also, I am super excited to say that many of the contemporary books I am looking forward to are diverse and/or are about fandoms/geekiness. The following titles are in no particular order.

1. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han is my most anticipated book this year. I cannot wait to read more about Lara Jean in this novel. This is the third installment to the To All the Boys trilogy. Lara Jean is finally a senior in high school and she has some big decisions about her life.

2. The Upside to Requited by Becky Albertalli is Albertalli's sophomore book and many people are already raving about it. With the diversity, geekiness and unrequited love, this novel is sure to be a favorite of many.

3. Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia is about a girl named Eliza who is shy, weird and is the creator of a webcomic. This novel seems very fitting for those who love Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. And for those who don't know already, Fangirl is one of my favorite books.

4. The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye is the sequel to The Crown's Game. Join the adventure with Vika, Pasha and Nikolai in Russia once more! I am interested to see what happens next.

5. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord is a about faith, love and the ability to cope. Lucy had her summer plans all set until she found out that her mother has cancer. I enjoyed most of Lord's previous books and I am excited to dive into this one.

6. The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz is the first book in the Carmer and Grit series and is also Horwitz's debut novel. Fantasy and steampunk collide creating a world full of magic about a magician's apprentice and a faerie princess. This middle grade novel is sure to enchant you.

7. Internet Famous by Danika Stone is a fandom extension of All the Feels. Madison manages a pop-culture blog and when real life gets tough, she turns to the internet. She finds someone online to turn to through an internet romance but someone is trying to separate her online and real personas. I adored All the Feels and cannot wait to see what Stone has in store for her fans in this upcoming novel.

8. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is Menon's debut novel about a girl named Dimple who just graduated high school. Her parents are urging her to find a husband and little did she know that when she attends a summer program, she will meet Rishi. This romantic comedy is the perfect late spring/summer read with alternating POVs.

9. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by

10. The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari is a novel that will satisfy readers who love magical realism. Set in the Windy City of Chicago,  Amber can see true love. She can envision everyone's soul mate except her own. This novel reminds me of The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee.

What books are on your spring TBR list? Do we share any of the same titles?

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Vampire Diaries Series Finale - "I Was Feeling Epic"

WARNING: This discussion post contains spoilers about The Vampire Diaries series as well as the series finale. If you're not caught up with the series, I encourage you not to read any further unless you don't mind spoilers. Read at your own risk. Image from

The finale was EPIC and it was the perfect way to send off The Vampire Diaries. I have been a fan of the series since season 2. I have to admit that The Vampire Diaries is one of favorite shows to watch despite people laughing at the fact that I like the series. Sorry but not sorry. Only those who are fans of the show truly understand my feelings of why I love this series so much.

The heartbreaks, the action and the truly twisted plot kept me going. The series had its ups and downs but I ultimately stuck it out until the very end. Many of the story arcs in The Vampire Diaries are intriguing but during the season 5, it became harder to watch. The Travelers arc is probably my least favorite in the entire series and the series was faltering. But then The Vampires Diaries came back to life with the introduction of the Gemini Coven in season 6. All I can say is that Kai definitely amped up the series. However, it was obviously when we reached season 7 that the series was nearing its end. Season 8 is the last season and although I did not enjoy season 8 as much as the first three seasons of The Vampire Diaries, I still hold it dear to my heart. 

The Hell Bell in the final episode (episode 16 aka "I Was Feeling Epic") of Season 8/the series finale is significant. This one object determines what will happen to our beloved characters of The Vampire Diaries. Of course Bonnie saves the day but I was scared. Was she going to live or was going to die? This type of magic is beyond what her body can take. How many times has Bonnie pushed herself to the point where she is stuck between realms? Many. Because this is the finale, there is no way for anyone coming back to life. 

All fans of the series know that if a character dies, there is always a way to come back to life. That's the beauty of the series. You never know when someone is gone for good and there is always twists and turns that will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat. The return of many characters from season 1 is nostalgic. It brings everything to a full circle. 

The sacrifice at the end of the episode with the Salvatore brothers is intense! I knew one brother is going to die and one is going to live but who is it going to be? Of course I knew Stefan would die forever because of his nature. Stefan is now a human and because of his past, he wants to redeem for himself being a Ripper, killing many people but also the death of Enzo and him turning human paved the way to his death. He also blames himself for allowing Damon to complete the transition to turn into a vampire. Stefan only wanted the best for Damon and this is the time to pay back what he owed his brother since the 1800's. Stefan was never truly evil and always had a pure heart. Because he always put others before himself, it was important for him to make the ultimate sacrifice, not only to save the Mystic Falls, but also for Damon and Elena to live out a happy life together. 

However, both brothers wanted to be the one to sacrifice their life. Stefan just outsmarted Damon. I mean Damon compelling Stefan to leave was brilliant but Stefan was one step of the game by making sure he was vervained to avoid compulsion. He even gave the chance for Damon to live a human life. The last act of not only Stefan sacrificing his life but him being the one killing Katherine also made him a martyr. Stefan is one of my favorite characters but it was important for him to die at the end. The impact of the series finale would have not been the same if Damon was the one to go. Also, is it only me but I didn't see the chemistry between Stefan and Caroline. 

The Hello Brother scene is perfect for the ending of the episode since it truly brought the series to a full circle. The first season also had a scene of Hello Brother with the Salvatores. The ending is up to interpretation of what happened to Damon and Elena. However we truly will never know what the writers intentions are with this ultimate scene. At the end, everyone has reached a sense of peace and a life that they deserve after a long run of craziness. Some reached peace earlier and some reached peace later in their lives. It's closure for everyone.

Image from

With every episode of The Vampire Diaries, never set your heart to something until the end. This finale seriously was messed up with the twist and turns but in a good way. I don't know how many times I ugly cried during this episode because I didn't know who we were going to lose for good. With the reunions and the deaths, I didn't know what to think. It was a lot to take in within an hour. 
Is "I Was Feeling Epic" epic enough? I say YES! This truly is the perfect ending to the series but there was closure to the series to the point where it can be a standalone. However, it can also open doors to crossovers to The Originals or another spin off.

The crossover many fans are hoping for is Klaroline. I am a huge fan of the Caroline and Klaus shipping. Because of the one single letter with a 3 million dollar donation from Klaus, there is hope for Caroline to possibly crossover to New Orleans to The Originals. I am being hopeful but I would love to see them rekindle their relationship. After all, the line "However long it takes" in the letter is in reference to what Klaus said to Caroline when he left to relocate to New Orleans.

Image from

So did you watch the series finale to The Vampire Diaries last Friday? If so, what are your thoughts about it? Is it Epic enough? Are you disappointed or did you think it's the perfect ending?

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Title: A Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication date: March 28, 2017
Pages: 352
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Roshani Choksi does it again! With her storytelling prose, she takes readers back to the wonderful world of the Night Bazaar while introducing to new lands. Although A Crown of Wishes is about Maya's sister, Gauri, this companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen is equally as beautifully written with its evocative description as the first. Again, Hindi and Indian folklore is woven into A Crown of Wishes, making this novel unique and diverse. Choski's descriptions evoke enchanting and vivid imagery. However, A Crown of Wishes shows more character development and the plot is more complex with new worlds to encounter.

Gauri, the Jewel of Bharata, is a strong warrior woman trying to help out her country during a war even though her brother betrays her. Two royalty rivals intertwine their lives together to win a wish by beating tournament hosted by Kubera, The Lord of Wealth and Treasures. Through a game of wits and riddles, readers are invited to lavish tournament where those who possess the invitational ruby are allowed entries to the tournament, however, the ruby never promises exits.

Vikram, the Fox Prince, is Gauri's Yang to her Yin. The banter between Gauri and Vikram is perfect! Choksi differentiates the worlds of Bharata, Ujijain and Alaka well. New characters, a tournament and new adventure are introduced in this plot driven novel. Seeing the novel unfold with Gauri and Vikram is exhilarating!

A Crown of Wishes is a breathtaking and adventurous novel for all the fantasy fans out there. If you've read The Star-Touched Queen, Caraval and/or The Night Circus, you will love A Crown of Wishes.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Title: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
Author: Lisa See
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: March 21, 2017
Pages: 384
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from

A thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

A powerful story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Li-Yan lives in the Spring Well Village, one of the many villages of the Akha people. Akha people, are one of the many ethnic tribes of people who live in the Yunnan province of China. Li-Yan falls in love with classmate Sen-pa from the Shelter Shadow Village but their parents do not approve of the marriage. Li-Yan finds out she is pregnant with his child. Because it's taboo to have a child unmarried, Li-Yan end up abandoning her daughter at an orphanage with a tea cake instead of following tradition to kill the child. Her daughter, Haley, ends up being adopted by an American couple in California. Both Li-Yan and Haley is curious about each other and they hope to find answers about each other.

A-ma can be very strict about things in the family but because Li-Yan is her only daughter, she tries to help Li-Yan during the pregnancy and conceal it from the family since its taboo to be pregnant when unmarried. Li-Yan had to give up her dream to past an exam to go to college but she wanted to make sure can provide a good life for her child. Her sacrifice for many things has helped her daughter obtain a better life.

Although her life is a constant struggle, Li-Yan is able to relocate away from her Akha home to a trade school in Kunming to start off with a clean slate. The mother and daughter relationships are vital in the novel just like how the special ancient tea grove is passed down the family from mother to daughter. The women in The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane are strong women; they are resilient.

Lisa See's The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is beautifully written and it's compelling. Her narration is that of a well versed storyteller. She educates readers about the traditions and culture of the Ahka people. I found it very interesting to learn more about the Ahka people and See did her research well. The art of tea is explained exquistely throughout the book. I am a huge tea lover so I found it fascinating to read. Cultivating tea to brewing tea is very complex and tea aficionados will enjoy reading about the history of tea, especially of Pu'er. Through tea Li-Yan is connected to her family roots and most importantly to her daughter. The yellow threads in the tea cakes bring the family together.

The novel is mostly in first person through Li-Yan's perspective. See starts the novel off with Li-Yan being about 10 and ends the novel when Li-Yan is in her mid to late 30s. Through letters and support group dialogue, readers peer into Haley's life and how she is doing. Although heartbreaking at times, See has captured the spirit of what it means to be a daughter and a mother. While Li-Yan is separated from her daughter, she yearns for her every day. Haley always thinks about her birth mother and the tea cake.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a story about tradition, culture, family, love, loss, sacrifice, perseverance, new beginnings and origins. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is by far my favorite novel by See and it makes a wonderful reading companion to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I highly recommend this novel.